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Organic Consumers Association

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Local Food as Medicine

It’s a Haida saying she’s never forgotten: “When the tide is low, the table is set.”

Jenny Cross grew up beside the Pacific Ocean in the village of Skidegate on Haida Gwaii, a remote archipelago off British Columbia’s northwestern coast. For Cross, like many Haida people, fishing and foraging for the wild foods that are abundant on the remote islands is a way of life. When the ocean recedes, they dig for razor clams. In the spring, they harvest and dry seaweed, and fish the rivers and streams for salmon. Haida women often gather in groups to pick huckleberries, blueberries, and thimbleberries, their fingers flying. Cross’s mother passed down to her the knowledge of preserving wild foods, including canning salmon. In recent years, she’s returned to her family’s history of digging for butter clams. Today, Cross is sharing many of these traditions with younger generations through her work as an early-childhood educator.*

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