What’s in the Bag?

By Chandra Maracle

If the Healthy Roots Challenge were a sporting event it would be the Boston Marathon.  A high level of commitment, grit and perhaps prestige comes with the territory.  Just as Haudenosaunee men known as Runners would journey on foot, along the length of what is now known as the New York State Thruway, the Challenge participants have embarked on their metaphorical expedition, rooted in the past, toward their future wellness.

The Haudenosaunee Food Guide, given to the Challenge participants as a resource and support for their feat, is not intended to be intimidating.  Rather, it is intended to be awe-inspiring of the wealth and variety of foods known to be available to the Haudenosaunee in the time prior to interaction with European folks.   Furthermore, it is hoped that it will enliven individual and collective resourcefulness and creativity around acquiring, preparing, and enjoying the eating of foods which may be new to participants and their families, as well as anyone following along from anywhere and at any level.

Practical, user-friendly and convenient are just as high on my priority list as delicious, nourishing and “on the list” as I feed our family of six each day. The following is a grocery list of items that we have enjoyed in the last two weeks, all of which are relatively local and easily obtainable.

Strawberries, wild blueberries, and raspberries (frozen, organic)

Wild blueberry juice

100% cranberry juice (not from concentrate, unsweetened)

Sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted)

Sunflower seed butter

Sunflower oil

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seed oil

Pumpkin seed butter

Hemp seeds

Hemp milk


Walnut oil


Corn: Haudenosaunee white and blue corn, red, white and blue organic corn chips, corn tortillas, organic popcorn

Beans: green beans and yellow wax beans, various dried and canned beans (black, red, pinto, kidney, white)

Squash: butternut, hubbard, acorn, pumpkin

Jerusalem artichokes

Wild rice

Maple syrup

Maple sap: Yes, you can actually buy this at health food stores now! I was ambivalent about it but decided to try it for research purposes.  My oldest daughter said, “Oh what the heck, you can buy that now? I think I’ll wait ‘til spring,” to which I replied, “Oh, you’re such a purist!”

Maple butter

Maple sugar and maple sugar candies

Hickory Syrup

Duck eggs

Quail eggs (our new favorite, a must try)

Duck legs

Duck fat (another favorite, must try)


Turkey bones for broth

Bison steaks, ground and burgers

Venison loins and ground and a deer heart! (Not prepared yet, given to us by our good friend Nince)



Pine tea (from our yard)

Wild berry tea


Some items that we don’t have at the moment but are also available include:







Frozen cranberries and blackberries


We encourage you to seek out local Six Nations farmers, hunters and other food providers to develop relationships and partnerships with, as well as venture out to surrounding local areas.  Stay tuned for more information and ideas around sourcing food items, food preparation/meal planning and nutritional content of traditional foods.

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