Food insecurity, helplessness, and choice: Gender and diet change in the central Himalaya

Himalayan diets, along with agricultural and health systems, have been undergoing significant changes over the past fifty years though little research has documented this transition. Using semi-structured interviews and focus groups with elder women villagers in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, India, we explore women‘s experience of diet change, recollections of the traditional diet, and the perceived factors motivating contemporary diet change. Findings show that the Himalayan diet has shifted from a complete reliance on traditional crop varieties and home-grown and foraged foods to an increasing dependence on processed and store-bought foods. Women view the traditional crops and foods as healthier than store-bought foods, yet they have been active participants in erecting market-based foodways. The support of the contemporary - or market-based - diet is attributed to gender roles. Specifically, women‘s experiences with gendered cultural norms of consumption, including regular bouts of food insecurity commonplace within the traditional diet, serve to valorize aspects of the contemporary diet among Himalayan women.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security (Agri-Gender), Volume 01, Issue 3
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Volume 1
Issue 3

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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