Food Plant Knowledge Among Bidayuhs of Sarawak

Teucher, Ulrich and Alexander Kiew, Sayok (2019) Food Plant Knowledge Among Bidayuhs of Sarawak. Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, 15 (2). p. 27. ISSN 1675-5820

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Much of the knowledge of food plants and their uses within local ecosystems is found in socio-cultural practices and sacred rituals of Indigenous people. Our study among the Bidayuh in Serembu area, Bau District, Sarawak reports on efforts to document Indigenous knowledge, with food plants as proxy, and to identify barriers as well as facilitators toward preserving and transferring traditional food and dietary habits across generations. Our results show that identification of traditional food plants was weakest, and that most of identified food plants had been seen in markets rather than in forests. While most participants were aware of traditional local plant knowledge linking plants and food plants to spirits, they could no longer remember such knowledge, except for the elderly headman. Most noted also was the Bidayuh’s relationship with food plants had changed due to lack of time, and most are buying food plants at the market. In some cases, knowledge of traditional food plants did not derive solely from within the community. Others noted their availability at shops made food plants or plant-derived products. Much change has occurred and was acknowledged but not necessarily in negative terms. Some participants even welcomed assimilations into the Malaysian mainstream, with its promises of income, mobility, improved health care and more choices in foods according to market availability rather than local environments. Some suggested that traditional practices could be documented in writing or preserved in cultural centres. However, while material artefacts can be preserved in cultural centres, an important part of traditional practices was spiritual in nature. While it seems clear how to preserve the artefacts of the past; it seems much less clear how to preserve the once lived spirituality that breathed through, and gave life to our artefacts.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation
Uncontrolled Keywords: food plants, socio-cultural, bidayuh, unimas, university, universiti, Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, ipta, education, research, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Academic Faculties, Institutes and Centres > Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation
Faculties, Institutes, Centres > Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation
Depositing User: Tuah
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2020 06:04
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2023 07:35

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