Economic Botany

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 30–43 | Cite as

Contemporary Gathering Practice and Antioxidant Benefit of Wild Seaweeds in Hawai’i

  • Georgia M. Hart
  • Tamara Ticktin
  • Dovi Kelman
  • Anthony D. Wright
  • Nicole Tabandera
Article

Abstract

Contemporary Gathering Practice and Antioxidant Benefit of Wild Seaweeds in Hawaii. Wild-gathered seaweeds (limu) are a prominent component of Native Hawaiian diet and culture, but are understudied for their nutritional benefits and contemporary cultural use. This study uses a combination of ethnographic, pharmacological, and ecological approaches to document contemporary levels of wild seaweed gathering and consumption, and it explores the impact of cultivation and eutrophication on the disease-preventive benefits wild seaweeds may provide. Levels of gathering and consumption of seaweed were assessed with surveys of high school students and interviews with adult limu gatherers on O’ahu island, Hawai’i. Antioxidant activity was assessed with laboratory-based assays. Almost all students surveyed reported consuming cultivated seaweeds, one-third reported having consumed wild seaweeds, and one-fifth had gathered them, confirming that gathering practice and traditional diet have persisted in Hawai’i despite major social and environmental change. Wild gathering was three times as high and consumption 60% more prevalent among Native Hawaiians compared to non-Hawaiian students. Further, students with a parent who gathered limu were six times more likely to have gathered limu themselves, asserting the importance of within-family transmission to cultural continuity. A larger proportion of male than female Hawaiian students reported gathering wild seaweeds, indicating a cultural shift from pre-Contact Hawai’i, when women were the predominant gatherers and consumers of limu. The wild seaweeds assessed demonstrated higher levels of antioxidant activity than did cultivated seaweeds. Eutrophication was correlated with a decline in antioxidant activity, indicating that changing ocean conditions may alter the nutritional quality of this traditional food. Today, nearly all students are receiving some antioxidant benefits from seaweed, with Native Hawaiian youth from families that gather seaweed most likely to receive this health benefit. Conservation and restoration of near-shore environments to promote native edible seaweeds in pollution-free areas would provide greater opportunities for Native Hawaiian gathering practice and would support Native Hawaiian health.

Key Words

Limu macroalgae traditional knowledge Native Hawaiian cultivation ethnobotany eutrophication nutrition 

要旨

ハワイにおける野生海藻の現代の採取慣習と抗酸化効果.自然採取された海藻はハワイ先住民の食習慣と文化において重要な要素であるが、その栄養面における利点と現代における文化的な利用については充分な研究が行われていない。本研究は民族誌学的、薬理学的、生態学的手法を用い、現代における海藻の自然採取と消費レベルを記録し、野生の海藻が持ちうる疾患予防効果に対する養殖と富栄養化の影響を調査したものである。海藻の採取と消費のレベルは、ハワイ州オアフ島の高校生を対象にした調査と成人の海藻採取者へのインタビューを元に算定された。海藻の抗酸化活性は採取された海藻の分析により算定された。野生の海藻は養殖された海藻よりも高い抗酸化活性を示した。富栄養化は抗酸化活性の低下と相関関係にあり、海水の状態の変化がこの伝統的な食物の栄養品質を変える可能性を示唆した。調査した殆ど全ての高校生が養殖された海藻を消費していると回答し、3分の1の生徒が野生の海藻を消費していると回答、また5分の1の生徒が海藻を採取したことがあると回答した。これは、大きな社会的、環境的変化にも関わらず、海藻採取の慣習と伝統的な食習慣がハワイで存続し続けていることを裏付けるものである。ハワイ先住民の系統ではない生徒と比較し、海藻の採取は3倍、消費は6%、ハワイ先住民の生徒が高い値を示した。また、海藻を採取する親を持つ生徒は、自身も採取したことがあると回答する率が6倍高かった。これは、家族間での文化継承の重要性を明示するものである。女子生徒と比較し、より大きい割合の先住民男子生徒が野生の海藻を採取すると回答した。これは、女性が主な海藻の採取、消費者であった西洋文明との接触以前のハワイからの文化の推移を示唆している。今日、殆ど全ての生徒が海藻から何らかの抗酸化効果を得ているが、ハワイ先住民の生徒で海藻を採取している家族を持つ者が最もこの恩恵を受けていると思われる。非汚染区域の自生の食用海藻の生育を促すために沿岸の環境を保護、回復することは、ハワイ先住民の海藻採取の慣習により多くの機会を提供し、彼らの健康維持に貢献するであろう。

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are indebted to the public high school science teachers, Dana Hoppe, Suzie Wallace, Matt Dillon, Lynette Low, Jeff McKeown, Channing Llaneza, Mandy Llamedo, Tim Harrison, and John Feurer, who generously undertook this collaboration, and to the over 50 community members who took the time to share their knowledge with student interviewers. We especially thank the cultural practitioners, Luwella Leonardi, Eric Nourrie, Pililua Keopuhiwa, Leimomi Mookini, and Constance Castillo, and the many adults interviewed by students involved in this study, who openly and generously shared their knowledge and who allowed conversations to be recorded. Thanks also go to Wally Ito and Uncle Henry Chang-Wo, who patiently and generously explained key cultural, historical, and ecological concepts concerning limu, and to Heather McMillen, Celia Smith, Kehau Hagiwara, Karla McDermid, Alison Sherwood, and Kimberly Conklin, who assisted with fieldwork and taxonomic IDs and/or provided comments on previous drafts. Wen Sun of Marine Agrifuture, LLC (Olakai Hawai’i) provided cultivated Gracilaria spp. samples. We thank the late Isabel Aiona Abbott for her passion, dedication, and enormous contributions to the taxonomy and ethnobotany of the Hawaiian macroalgae that made this work possible. This research was supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Beatrice Krauss Fellowship, and a University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Graduate Student Organization grant to Georgia Hart.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgia M. Hart
    • 1
  • Tamara Ticktin
    • 1
  • Dovi Kelman
    • 2
  • Anthony D. Wright
    • 2
  • Nicole Tabandera
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of Hawai’i at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Daniel K. Inouye College of PharmacyUniversity of Hawai’i at HiloHiloUSA

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