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Organic farmers use of wild food plants and fungi in a hilly area in Styria (Austria).

Schunko C, Vogl CR - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2010)

Bottom Line: Changing lifestyles have recently caused a severe reduction of the gathering of wild food plants.The classification following gathering and use variables can be used to better understand how people classify the elements of their environment.The findings of this study add to discussions about food heritage, popularized by organizations like Slow Food, and bear significant potential for organic farmers.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Working Group: Knowledge Systems and Innovations, Division of Organic Farming, Department for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Gregor-Mendel Strasse 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria. christoph.schunko@boku.ac.at

ABSTRACT

Background: Changing lifestyles have recently caused a severe reduction of the gathering of wild food plants. Knowledge about wild food plants and the local environment becomes lost when plants are no longer gathered. In Central Europe popular scientific publications have tried to counter this trend. However, detailed and systematic scientific investigations in distinct regions are needed to understand and preserve wild food uses. This study aims to contribute to these investigations.

Methods: Research was conducted in the hill country east of Graz, Styria, in Austria. Fifteen farmers, most using organic methods, were interviewed in two distinct field research periods between July and November 2008. Data gathering was realized through freelisting and subsequent semi-structured interviews. The culinary use value (CUV) was developed to quantify the culinary importance of plant species. Hierarchical cluster analysis was performed on gathering and use variables to identify culture-specific logical entities of plants. The study presented was conducted within the framework of the master's thesis about wild plant gathering of the first author. Solely data on gathered wild food species is presented here.

Results: Thirty-nine wild food plant and mushroom species were identified as being gathered, whereas 11 species were mentioned by at least 40 percent of the respondents. Fruits and mushrooms are listed frequently, while wild leafy vegetables are gathered rarely. Wild foods are mainly eaten boiled, fried or raw. Three main clusters of wild gathered food species were identified: leaves (used in salads and soups), mushrooms (used in diverse ways) and fruits (eaten raw, with milk (products) or as a jam).

Conclusions: Knowledge about gathering and use of some wild food species is common among farmers in the hill country east of Graz. However, most uses are known by few farmers only. The CUV facilitates the evaluation of the culinary importance of species and makes comparisons between regions and over time possible. The classification following gathering and use variables can be used to better understand how people classify the elements of their environment. The findings of this study add to discussions about food heritage, popularized by organizations like Slow Food, and bear significant potential for organic farmers.

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Dendrogram of gather and use variables created through Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (n = 10). Coding of variables: Gathered part: Lea = Leaf, Flo = Flower, Fru = Fruit, Mus = Mushroom; Frequency of occurrence in the freelists: lRa = < 33%, lF = 33%-66%, lFF = > 66% each of all informants; Frequency of gathering: gRa = < 33%, gF = 33%-66%, gFF = > 66% each of all informants; Ways of preparation or use: Sou = soup, Sce = sauce, con = condiment, Bre = breaded, Fri = fried, Sal = salad, Raw = raw, Egg = with eggs, Ric = with rice, Mil = with milk (products), Mar = marmalade; Cultivation of plants: C = also cultivated; Habitat: Woo = wood, Mea = meadow, Edwo = edge of the wood; Distance from farm: gCC = < 0,2 kilometers, gC = 0,2-5 kilometers, gA = > 5 kilometers; Season: Spr = spring, Sum = summer, Fal = fall;
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Figure 2: Dendrogram of gather and use variables created through Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (n = 10). Coding of variables: Gathered part: Lea = Leaf, Flo = Flower, Fru = Fruit, Mus = Mushroom; Frequency of occurrence in the freelists: lRa = < 33%, lF = 33%-66%, lFF = > 66% each of all informants; Frequency of gathering: gRa = < 33%, gF = 33%-66%, gFF = > 66% each of all informants; Ways of preparation or use: Sou = soup, Sce = sauce, con = condiment, Bre = breaded, Fri = fried, Sal = salad, Raw = raw, Egg = with eggs, Ric = with rice, Mil = with milk (products), Mar = marmalade; Cultivation of plants: C = also cultivated; Habitat: Woo = wood, Mea = meadow, Edwo = edge of the wood; Distance from farm: gCC = < 0,2 kilometers, gC = 0,2-5 kilometers, gA = > 5 kilometers; Season: Spr = spring, Sum = summer, Fal = fall;

Mentions: The HCA of gather and use variables also yields four clusters (Figure 2). The variables in the first cluster (CoV-1) are: "gathering of mushrooms", "very frequent listing" and "very frequent gathering" and the preparation of plants or mushrooms "with eggs", "with rice", "as a sauce", "fried" or "breaded". This cluster of variables matches with the CoP-C, containing all mushrooms. The CoP-C is divided into two subclusters at level 8. This division can be explained through the distinct ways of preparation since Macrolepiota procera, Russula sp., Lactarius sect. Deliciosi and Amanita rubescens are consumed mainly fried or breaded and Cantharellus cibarius and Boletus edulis are rather prepared with eggs, with rice or as a sauce. The items of this cluster are labeled by the local term "schwammerl".


Organic farmers use of wild food plants and fungi in a hilly area in Styria (Austria).

Schunko C, Vogl CR - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2010)

Dendrogram of gather and use variables created through Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (n = 10). Coding of variables: Gathered part: Lea = Leaf, Flo = Flower, Fru = Fruit, Mus = Mushroom; Frequency of occurrence in the freelists: lRa = < 33%, lF = 33%-66%, lFF = > 66% each of all informants; Frequency of gathering: gRa = < 33%, gF = 33%-66%, gFF = > 66% each of all informants; Ways of preparation or use: Sou = soup, Sce = sauce, con = condiment, Bre = breaded, Fri = fried, Sal = salad, Raw = raw, Egg = with eggs, Ric = with rice, Mil = with milk (products), Mar = marmalade; Cultivation of plants: C = also cultivated; Habitat: Woo = wood, Mea = meadow, Edwo = edge of the wood; Distance from farm: gCC = < 0,2 kilometers, gC = 0,2-5 kilometers, gA = > 5 kilometers; Season: Spr = spring, Sum = summer, Fal = fall;
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
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Figure 2: Dendrogram of gather and use variables created through Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (n = 10). Coding of variables: Gathered part: Lea = Leaf, Flo = Flower, Fru = Fruit, Mus = Mushroom; Frequency of occurrence in the freelists: lRa = < 33%, lF = 33%-66%, lFF = > 66% each of all informants; Frequency of gathering: gRa = < 33%, gF = 33%-66%, gFF = > 66% each of all informants; Ways of preparation or use: Sou = soup, Sce = sauce, con = condiment, Bre = breaded, Fri = fried, Sal = salad, Raw = raw, Egg = with eggs, Ric = with rice, Mil = with milk (products), Mar = marmalade; Cultivation of plants: C = also cultivated; Habitat: Woo = wood, Mea = meadow, Edwo = edge of the wood; Distance from farm: gCC = < 0,2 kilometers, gC = 0,2-5 kilometers, gA = > 5 kilometers; Season: Spr = spring, Sum = summer, Fal = fall;
Mentions: The HCA of gather and use variables also yields four clusters (Figure 2). The variables in the first cluster (CoV-1) are: "gathering of mushrooms", "very frequent listing" and "very frequent gathering" and the preparation of plants or mushrooms "with eggs", "with rice", "as a sauce", "fried" or "breaded". This cluster of variables matches with the CoP-C, containing all mushrooms. The CoP-C is divided into two subclusters at level 8. This division can be explained through the distinct ways of preparation since Macrolepiota procera, Russula sp., Lactarius sect. Deliciosi and Amanita rubescens are consumed mainly fried or breaded and Cantharellus cibarius and Boletus edulis are rather prepared with eggs, with rice or as a sauce. The items of this cluster are labeled by the local term "schwammerl".

Bottom Line: Changing lifestyles have recently caused a severe reduction of the gathering of wild food plants.The classification following gathering and use variables can be used to better understand how people classify the elements of their environment.The findings of this study add to discussions about food heritage, popularized by organizations like Slow Food, and bear significant potential for organic farmers.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Working Group: Knowledge Systems and Innovations, Division of Organic Farming, Department for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Gregor-Mendel Strasse 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria. christoph.schunko@boku.ac.at

ABSTRACT

Background: Changing lifestyles have recently caused a severe reduction of the gathering of wild food plants. Knowledge about wild food plants and the local environment becomes lost when plants are no longer gathered. In Central Europe popular scientific publications have tried to counter this trend. However, detailed and systematic scientific investigations in distinct regions are needed to understand and preserve wild food uses. This study aims to contribute to these investigations.

Methods: Research was conducted in the hill country east of Graz, Styria, in Austria. Fifteen farmers, most using organic methods, were interviewed in two distinct field research periods between July and November 2008. Data gathering was realized through freelisting and subsequent semi-structured interviews. The culinary use value (CUV) was developed to quantify the culinary importance of plant species. Hierarchical cluster analysis was performed on gathering and use variables to identify culture-specific logical entities of plants. The study presented was conducted within the framework of the master's thesis about wild plant gathering of the first author. Solely data on gathered wild food species is presented here.

Results: Thirty-nine wild food plant and mushroom species were identified as being gathered, whereas 11 species were mentioned by at least 40 percent of the respondents. Fruits and mushrooms are listed frequently, while wild leafy vegetables are gathered rarely. Wild foods are mainly eaten boiled, fried or raw. Three main clusters of wild gathered food species were identified: leaves (used in salads and soups), mushrooms (used in diverse ways) and fruits (eaten raw, with milk (products) or as a jam).

Conclusions: Knowledge about gathering and use of some wild food species is common among farmers in the hill country east of Graz. However, most uses are known by few farmers only. The CUV facilitates the evaluation of the culinary importance of species and makes comparisons between regions and over time possible. The classification following gathering and use variables can be used to better understand how people classify the elements of their environment. The findings of this study add to discussions about food heritage, popularized by organizations like Slow Food, and bear significant potential for organic farmers.

Show MeSH