Wellness Warrior Spotlight: ACORN Youth Group Completes Harvest Challenge
Wellness Warriors inspires native youth across the country to seek out and share traditional recipes for their “Harvest Challenge”. Below is one California submission that has gone far and beyond in helping address their community needs! Check out their recipe on the “UNITY Wellness Warriors” Mobile App, Free for download in app stores for Android and Apple users. Modern Acorn Mush:
- Gather acorns in the fall
- Dry them in the sun (can take up to a year)
- Crack the acorns with a nutcracker
- Peel off the skins around the acorn
- Grind the acorns in a corn grinder
- Put cheesecloth in a basket
- Layer acorn flour over the cheesecloth
- Pour water over basket to leach the acorns, continue the process until the water running from the bottom of the basket runs clear
- Mix water and acorn flour in a pan until the mixture boils and creates a thick consistency
The Tribal Youth Ambassadors (TYA) of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (CIMCC) are producing an Acorn Energy Bar to address the diabetes epidemic, revitalize California Indian acorn traditions, and protect and cultivate oak trees. Today, most Native people in California only eat acorns on special occasions, if at all. California Indians have difficulty incorporating acorns in their diet on a daily basis because of issues related to colonization and contemporary circumstances. The Acorn Energy Bar addresses the need to incorporate acorn back into our daily diets and the challenges we face in a fast-paced society.
“TYA’s project, ACORN: Advancing Cultural Opportunities for Reclaiming Nutrition, collaborated with community partners to develop recipes, create a business plan, conduct a community food sovereignty assessment, and develop educational videos and an information portal on acorn nutrition, cultural traditions, and environmental stewardship. Through these efforts, we learned our communities must strengthen their relationship with acorns.
Nutrition-related diseases are common in California tribal communities. One in nine California Indians has been diagnosed with diabetes; the majority has Type II diabetes. Today, Native people have high rates of diabetes because of drastic changes in diet caused by colonization, the imposition of foreign foods on tribal communities, income, access to healthy and traditional foods, and other factors. Diet-related prevention and intervention strategies are critical to combating these diseases. Fortunately, the cultural tradition of eating acorns can help address this health crisis. They contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, and other properties that are being shown through research to help regulate blood sugar, intervene in complications from diabetes, and prevent diabetes.
When acorns were the staple food of California tribes, diabetes did not exist within our communities. TYA youth began working with Chef Crystal Wahpehpah in 2016. Our goal was to create a product that would increase the consumption of acorns by California Indians and others and address the diabetes crisis by bringing greater awareness and education about the health benefits of this vital traditional food. We succeeded in creating a delicious and nutritious product and creating a community campaign to protect and celebrate acorns.
Our Acorn Energy Bar serves to overcome the obstacles that have inhibited acorn consumption in the past and to build a foundation for our future. By introducing acorns back into the diet of Native communities and others, we hope that our product will combat widespread diabetes. While our product is complete, we still have work to do to preserve acorns in our diet. A future project would be to address the priorities we identified above, mainly acquiring and maintaining land with oak trees to preserve our supply of acorns. We hope our efforts will promote and preserve the acorn as a food source for future generations.”
For more information about CIMCC and the Acorn Energy Bar visit www.cimcc.org Look for them to be featured in the next edition of News from Native California and Help Support these amazing youth by sharing their GoFundMe link for the youths’ project: https://www.gofundme.