Children's traditional ecological knowledge of wild food resources: a case study in a rural village in Northeast Thailand

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:C. Setalaphruk, Price L. Leimar
Journal:Journal of Ethnobiology and EthnomedicineJournal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Date Published:10/1507/24/received10/15/accepted
ISBN Number:1746-4269
Accession Number:PMC2100045

Consuming wild foods is part of the food ways of people in many societies, including farming populations throughout the world. Knowledge of non-domesticated food resources is part of traditional and tacit ecological knowledge, and is largely transmitted through socialization within cultural and household contexts. The context of this study, a small village in Northeast Thailand, is one where the community has experienced changes due to the migration of the parental generation, with the children being left behind in the village to be raised by their grandparents. A case study approach was used in order to gain holistic in-depth insight into children's traditional ecological knowledge as well as patterns of how children acquire their knowledge regarding wild food resources. Techniques used during field data collection are free-listing conducted with 30 village children and the use of a sub-sample of children for more in-depth research. For the sub-sample part of the study, wild food items consisted of a selection of 20 wild food species consisting of 10 species of plants and 10 species of animals. Semi-structured interviews with photo identification, informal interviews and participatory observation were utilized, and both theoretical and practical knowledge scored. The sub-sample covers eight households with boys and girls aged between 10–12 years old from both migrant families and non-migrant families. The knowledge of children was compared and the transmission process was observed. The result of our study shows that there is no observable difference among children who are being raised by grandparents and those being raised by their parents, as there are different channels of knowledge transmission to be taken into consideration, particularly grandparents and peers. The basic ability (knowledge) for naming wild food species remains among village children. However, the practical in-depth knowledge, especially about wild food plants, shows some potential eroding.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith