Saturday, April 2, 2016

Dietary Staples

A recent email prompted the following trend of thought. And not really being familiar with the topic, I had to do a little research on it. The topic? Dietary food staples. 

Definition per the UN:
A food that is eaten routinely, and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet in a given people, supplying a large fraction of the needs for energy-rich materials and generally a significant proportion of the intake of other nutrients as well. The staple food of a specific society may be eaten as often as every day, or every meal, and most people live on a diet based on just a small number of staples.
Food staples tend to be readily available and affordable to the general people. Typically they are either available most of the year or storable. 

What are considered to be dietary staples varys from region to region, from culture to culture. Common staples of today, depending upon the culture of course, include:
...sweet potatoes/yams
(My own orange fleshed sweet potatoes)
(A bunch of plantains still growing and not ready for harvest yet.)
...sago palm

Historically, staples can change through the generations. What our grandparents relied upon isn't what people tend to eat today, especially in developed countries. Items that once were staples (and may still be in select areas)  included....
(My yummy pumpkins. Still green and growing.) 
...assorted wild plant seeds
...wild game

Ever think about what are the staples in your own diet? 

So back to that email I received asking me what staples I produce for hubby and myself. Gee, I had to really think about it. Before moving to Hawaii, I could have easily listed our dietary staples: wheat, potatoes, meat, dairy. Ate them just about every day and in quantity. But now? Honestly, I don't think I have staples in my diet anymore. I produce or trade for such a wide assortment of foods that no one particular item dominates our diet, not one is more consistently eaten than another. While we eat a bit of dairy every day, it doesn't make up a significant portion of our diet. Hubby has even drifted away from his daily apple, interchanging the apple with banana or yogurt on various days. Other than that, I'd have to broaden out the classifications in order up say that they are consumed regularly.......say "fruit" rather than naming a particular fruit, or "fresh greens" rather than saying kale, or collards, salad, or chard, etc. 

Now that we've switched our diet over to self-provided, we somehow lost the concept of a staple. I'm fortunate to live in an area where a great variety is available year around. And needing to store food through a non-growing season isn't mandatory here. That's not to say that staples don't occur in tropical and sub tropical growing areas. Pre-contact Hawaiians surely had their staples. But I don't emulate their diet. I prefer a much more varied dinner plate. 

Modern folks in Hawaii indeed have dietary staples, too. Rice is a big one, perhaps the biggest. Wheat in various forms is extremely popular. Since most people eat commercial foods, perhaps sugar could be considered a staple here. Potatoes and sweet potatoes frequently are included in meals. But I still have to say rice is most likely number one here in Hawaii. Just not on my farm, where we almost never eat rice. 

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in a country where rice was a staple and served at least once a day and most of the time twice...usually rice and beans of some kind for lunch along with soups and salad and served with meats for the evening meal...and then there was the occasional rice pudding for dessert...
    Rice is still a big part of our food intake although now I don't cook it every day, but at least 3 times a week...