Popular Diets
The Inuit Diet

The Inuit are an Artic people who inhabit parts of Canada, Greenland, Russia, and the United States...

Traditional Inuit Seal Hunter

Traditional Inuit seal hunter in popular diets

There'll be seal meat for supper.

Their diet is based on foods that they hunt, fish, or gather. This diet is particularly suited to the challenges they face in such a difficult climate.

The major component of the Inuit diet is seal meat. The seals include harp seal, harbor seal, and ringed seals. Seals need to breathe air. When they break through the ice to get air they are vulnerable to hunters armed with harpoons. Walrus are usually hunted in the winter and spring. Because of their great size the walrus hunt is a group effort. A mature Bowhead whale may weigh over 150 tons. Thatís a lot of blubber. One such whale can feed a community for almost a year. The young whales are safer to hunt than the adults and are said to have tastier skin. The harpoon is the preferred weapon for Bowhead whale hunting.

Caribou are often speared but they may also be forced into the river. These animals provide clothing, shelter, and tools as well as food. The caribou/wild reindeer is the species of choice for anthropologists studying hunting among traditional peoples. The Inuit consume sculpin, artic cod, and other saltwater fish. They capture these fish by a process called jigging that involves an artificial fish and a spear. Hunting and fishing are becoming lost arts in many Inuit communities. The cause is partly social and partly economic.

Many Inuit feel that their traditional diet is superior to the southern diet. For example they drink seal blood said to improve the imbiberís own blood. Their meat-rich diet keeps them warm. Walrus meat is digested extremely slowly. Furthermore, one can eat quite a large amount of walrus meat without getting sick. These properties meet the needs of locals who may go a long time without any food and then find themselves a walrus.

Inuit ice fishing in popular diets

Fish, but not fish and chips.

Inuit food is mostly eaten frozen, raw, or boiled, with very little mixture of ingredients and with very few spices. Inuit only eat two main meals a day, but snacking is very common. Many hunters eat their prey in the place they found it. Traditionally no fish could be cooked and eaten where caught. So the choice was to eat it raw or cook it in a location at least a dayís march away from the fishing site. At mealtime Inuit place chunks of food on a piece of metal, plastic, or cardboard on the floor. Hungry people serve themselves.

After a hunt the hunters are served first; not surprisingly they are cold and hungry. Their first choices are liver and blood. Another delicacy is brain mixed with seal fat. The women and children eat afterwards. Their item of choice is the intestines and any remaining liver. The Inuit are known for sharing their food within the entire community. Food is considered communal property.

Diabetics must pay careful attention to when they eat. Determining the time to wait between insulin injections and eating is complicated; depending in part on the type of insulin used. Many diabetics should eat some long-acting carbohydrate before going to bed to avoid night-time hypoglycemia. Please be careful before purchasing products pitched to diabetics. Some of these products are useless. Alcohol should be used in moderation.

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