A nutritionist, educator and enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Valerie Segrest specializes in local and traditional foods of the Puget Sound region, serving her community by coordinating and managing the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project.
An excerpt from our interview with Valerie:
I can’t tell you how many times I sit in food policy meetings and discussions where I say, “Remember, we have an ancient food system here that feeds a lot of people.” Maybe a lot of us don’t eat those traditional foods, or know how to harvest or hunt or fish, but there are people that still do. We really try to not talk in a past tense. Ours really is a living culture, and just as our ancestors were very innovative, we also use what’s innovative at the time. I had a carver once tell me that people told him “it’s not very traditional to use a chainsaw,” but he said “if my ancestors could have used one, they would!” I’m not coming from a stance that says “let’s decolonize our food system,” because I’m not insisting on eating only pre-contact stuff. We can celebrate kale, and peas, and tomatoes just as much as we can celebrate huckleberries, fir teas, and stinging nettles. How do we take the best of both systems and create an abundance that feeds the future? We need to honor the past food system that fed people for a long time, and still feeds people very well today.