Nutritional criteria in machiguenga food production decisions: A linear-programming analysis

Abstract

Machiguenga Indians of the Peruvian Amazon, like other low populationdensity, technologically “simple” peoples, produce ample food for a nutritious diet. Assuming that this is an intended outcome of their foodproduction strategy, to what extent is it a labor-efficient solution to the problem of producing a “balanced diet”? A linear-programming model of the “diet problem” is constructed with parameters reflecting the Machiguenga economy, and solutions are computed. These are then compared to observed Machiguenga food production; the degree of fit between model and behavior is examined and reasons for discrepancies are discussed.

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The authors thank David Boyd, Daniel Gross, Raymond Hames, and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft.

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Johnson, A., Behrens, C.A. Nutritional criteria in machiguenga food production decisions: A linear-programming analysis. Hum Ecol 10, 167–189 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01531239

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Key words

  • native South America
  • food production
  • nutrition
  • optimization models
  • lowenergy economies