10 Wild plant and other foods
DOI link for 10 Wild plant and other foods
10 Wild plant and other foods book
It is possible that the collection of edible wild plants, when hunting for instance, makes up some of the game energy deﬁcit incurred by the Wola in their exploitation of their forest resources. The gathering of wild plant foods is commonly associated with hunting – as conveyed in the epithet
hunter-gatherers. These populations frequently depend heavily on vegetable foods for their subsistence, often collected largely by women (see Kelly 1995: 262-70 who qualiﬁes the idea that women are solely gatherers). These foods sometimes make up a sizeable proportion of the diet, male-caught meat contributing an irregular and less certain fraction51 (such that some writers suggest that we should talk of ‘gatherer-hunters’ to show the importance of plant foods,52 which comprise on average some 65 per cent of these people’s diets – Kelly 1995: 65). When they are in the forest hunting, the Wola frequently collect any uncultivated plant foods they see, such as fungi, or attend to them if they are unripe, such as clearing competing vegetation away from around pandan trees (Table 2.16). This is not something left largely to women. Sometimes people set out intentionally to collect forest foods, notably those that occur seasonally in large numbers, such as pandan nuts, harvested largely by men, and fungi, often gathered by women on speciﬁc foraging trips. Men, and sometimes women, may also set out to collect tree-fern fronds to cook with meat, for example before killing a pig. Other times they collect leaves, fruits, nuts and so on opportunistically when they see them while engaged on other activities such as travelling through the forest, collecting construction materials and so on. Finally, in times of famine, people may resort in desperation to any wild foods they can ﬁnd (Sillitoe 1996).