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CHAPTER 8 Lessons from “The Bucket Brigade” The Role of Urban Gardening in Native American Cultural Continuance michèle companion introduction Cultivation and urban gardening are critical components of the food system around the globe. Food security studies in numerous countries find that urban food production increases resource access, coping mechanisms, and income -generating opportunities for new entrants into a wage economy, internal migrants, and marginalized groups, including female-headed households (Companion 2012). Agricultural activities facilitate psychological survival as well. Companion (2012) finds that women in Mozambique who engage in cultivation report reduced anomie. Gardening allows them to maintain feelings of connection to their rural homes, traditions, and ways of life. The positive benefits of urban agriculture apply to the United States as well. Obeng-Odoom (2013) argues that “urban agriculture empowers rather than limits” (614). Studies of urban gardens, discussed below, have demonstrated positive impacts, Lessons from “The Bucket Brigade” 127 including exercise, crime reduction, personal capacity building, community building, and civic engagement. However, few studies have concentrated on the role of community gardens in cultural continuance. In indigenous cultures, traditional foods, medicines, and rituals are intertwined with health, spirituality, and lifeways. As a result of urbanization and nutrition transition, some cultural disconnects have widened . Flachs (2010) points out that “food and foodways are important keys to cultural identity. . . . Yet, a growing body of research shows that Americans, especially urban, low-income individuals, as well as people of color, have become disconnected from their food” (1). This has led to negative long-term health outcomes. Physiological pathologies are enhanced by the inability to access and consume fresh produce. This issue is critical for low-income, urban Native Americans. This study will demonstrate the potential of gardening programs to address the structural, sociocultural, and organizational barriers to healthier eating patterns in this community. Programs have been constructed around nutritional education and container gardening, focusing on social empowerment and capacity building. Participants take greater control over their salt and fat intake by growing fresh herbs. The program fosters cultural continuance through several avenues, including facilitation of communication between parents and children and the production of spiritual resources such as ceremonial sage. background Nutritiontransitionisaprocessassociatedwithmodernizationandurbanization, which contributes to structural barriers to healthier eating patterns. Nutrition transitionoccurswhenpopulationsshiftfrombeingunderweightwithinfectious diseasestobeingoverweightorobeseandsufferingfromnutrition-relatednoncommunicablediseases (Astrupetal.2007;Compher2006).Populationsmove awayfromnutritionallydensetraditionalfoods,whichhavemoreabundantfiber, minerals,andproteins(KuhnleinandReceveur2007),toprocessedenergy-dense conveniencefoodsandsugarybeverages(Popkin2004).Therearenegativehealth consequencesfortheworld’spoor(RaschkeandCheema2007),indigenouspeople (Damman,Eide,andKuhnlein2008;Foley2005),andtheNativeAmerican population(Companion2013b,2008;Gittelsohnetal.2006)asaresult. 128 production Poverty creates additional structural barriers to good health by limiting access to healthful foods (Companion 2013b; Hu et al. 2013). Barriers include prices, retail options, distance to stores, transportation, and availability of food choices. Lack of resources, combined with constricted shopping opportunities in urban “food deserts,” promotes the purchase of inexpensive foods that can stretch the quantity of a meal (e.g., potatoes, pasta) (Companion 2013b; Zenk et al. 2005a; 2005b). Lack of or limited access to full-service grocery stores or farmers markets, combined with low availability of transportation, compels families to stock up on nonperishable items (Ard et al. 2007; Companion 2013b; Hawkes 2008; Hsieh 2004; Lake and Townshend 2006). As a result, consumption of processed foods increases, displacing fresh fruit and vegetables from diets. These factors make low socioeconomic status a powerful risk factor for poor health outcomes, including obesity and type II diabetes (Companion 2013b, 2008; Halpern 2007). In addition to broad social and economic trends, individual health status is also influenced by interactions of cultural forces and social relationships (Hsieh 2004; Larson and Story 2009), which generate food preferences. Frohlich, Corin, and Potvin (2001) emphasize collective lifestyles, which create and reinforce patterns of food consumption. Delormier, Frohlich, and Potvin (2009) expand on this, focusing on food and eating as a social practice rather than an individual behavior. They note that “eating patterns form in relation to other people, alongside everyday activities that take place in family groups, work, and school” (217). Children are central in shaping the food environment, as they have tremendous influence on shopping and preparation patterns (Companion 2013a, 2013b; Damman, Eide, and Kuhnlein 2008; Foley 2005; James 2004; Lake and Townshend 2006; Raschke and Cheema 2007; Stevenson et al. 2007; Wiig and Smith 2008). Companion (2013a, 2013b) identifies specific sociocultural barriers to healthier food consumption within the Native American community. One of these barriers is family food history, which is essential in constructing taste preferences. Larson and Story (2009) believe that “cultural food patterns influence food consumption in several ways: they dictate what food is eaten...


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