, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 455-475

Food Consumption and Subsistence in Three Caboclo Populations on Marajó Island, Amazonia, Brazil

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Abstract

In this article data on household food consumption is used to further understanding of subsistence strategies in three Caboclo populations on Marajó Island, Amazonia, Brazil. Data were collected using participant observation and 24-hour food recalls in 16 households for 7 consecutive days during the rainy (March) and dry (July) seasons. Marajó-Açu households (n = 6) had the highest levels of energy and protein intake relative to recommendations. This was probably related to their successful integration into the prosperous acai (a palm fruit) market of the riverine area. Praia Grande households (n = 6) had the lowest values for energy intake (rainy season), which supports the authors' ethnographic observations of some instability in the subsistence system of this population. Paricatuba households (n = 4) exhibited intermediate values of energy and protein intakes, but less seasonal variation in consumption than the other two populations. Despite the differences observed, food consumption does not appear to be a major limitation for any of the three populations. The data support recent hypotheses concerning the concomitant and multiple use of várzea (floodplain) and terra firme (upland) environments by the Caboclos and integration into the local market economy as the central strategies in dealing with the so-called socioenvironmental constraints of the Amazonian floodplain.