Traditional use of wild edible food in rural territories within tropical forest zones: A case study from the northwestern Colombia

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Jeferson Asprilla-Perea Jose Maria Diaz-Puente


Traditionally, wild edible food has been important sources of nutrition to human populations in rural territories within tropical forest zones. This study provides new insights on ethnobiological knowledge about the traditional use of wild edible food in rural territories within tropical forest zones in northwestern Colombia. Moreover, this knowledge makes an important contribution to the process of planning accurate and sustainable actions to improve food security. Methods: This study was conducted with 12 rural communities living in places within tropical forest zones in northwestern Colombia (South America) and 153 key informants were interviewed. To estimate the importance of each food for the studied communities, a Smith’s salience index was used. The results are presented in tables with absolute numbers and percentages. Results: Fifty- one food products provided by wild biodiversity were identified, the main ones being fruits, tubers, beef, eggs and fats. Fifty- three percent of them are food of plant origin and 47% of animal origin. These products are consumed either raw or boiled. However, they are also prepared using other cooking techniques. The most important edible foods of plant origin for the

studied communities are the Borojo (Alibertia patioi), the Caimito (Pouteria caimito) and the Guayaba Agria (Psidium guajava), while those of animal origin are the Guagua (Cuniculus paca), the Guatin (Dasyprocta punctata) and the Venado (Mazama Americana). Conclusion: For these communities, the importance of wild edible food is not only related to a traditional consumption associated to flavour, hunting practices, cultivation nor their aphrodisiac properties but also relates to income-generating activities for subsistence. These findings suggest that once the food’s nutritional value and sustainable 

management practices are determined through science, technology and innovation processes, they could also be used as a feasible alternative for planning actions to improve food security in these territories.

Keywords: Wild edible food, tropical forest, food security, Colombia.


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