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Recovering Our Ancestral Foodways: Indigenous Traditions as a Recipe for Living Well

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My first book, Recovering Our Ancestral Foodways: Indigenous Traditions as a Recipe for Living Well (2024), is the first relational ethnography of Māori and Quechua peoples’ philosophies of well-being, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and contributions to sustainable food systems. Based on over ten years of fieldwork in Peru and Aotearoa New Zealand, Recovering Our Ancestral Foodways explores how Quechua and Māori peoples describe, define, and enact well‑being through the lens of foodways. By analyzing how these two Indigenous communities operationalize knowledge to promote sustainable food systems, physical and spiritual well‑being, and community health, Recovering Our Ancestral Foodways puts forth a powerful philosophy of food sovereignty called the Chakana/Māhutonga offering a foundation for understanding the practices and policies needed to transform the global food system to nourish the world and preserve the Earth. One of the key features of this book is the development of an original research methodology—the Khipu Model—which I developed to serve as a vital resource for future research on Indigenous ways of knowing. Recovering Our Ancestral Foodways, is a celebration of the lore of Quechua and Māori and of the world’s Indigenous peoples in safeguarding food systems, innovation, practices, and, ultimately, the well-being of humankind.

Book Reviews:

"Mariaelena Huambachano takes readers on an engaging journey into the beautiful traditions and foodways of the Quechua and Māori peoples. In weaving a research methodology she calls the Khipu Model, Huambachano cultivates an important pathway for scholars working with and for Indigenous communities, demonstrating how research can be both ethical and respectful. This book will nourish your spirit, leaving you with a feeling of deep gratitude."—Charlotte Coté, author of A Drum in One Hand, a Sockeye in the Other

"Demonstrating the importance of food sovereignty within Indigenous communities and showcasing how critical Indigenous communities are to transforming our global food systems, Huambachano inspires us to remember, reclaim, and regenerate Indigenous foodways. Weaving together stories of intimate connection across the Pacific from Aotearoa to the highlands of Peru, Huambachano brings to life the theories and practices of Indigenous foodways, charting a way forward grounded in our shared histories, knowledges, and aspirations for the future."—Krushil Watene, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland

"Huambachano beautifully explores narratives of holistic well-being in the Indigenous traditional foodways of the Māori and Quechua peoples as both a collective philosophy of life and a set of food practices that support environmental sustainability, food sovereignty, and cultural resilience."—Hannah Wittman, Professor of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia

“A striking contribution that connects spirituality and materiality—the cultural dimensions of food, food production, and trade.”—Virginia D. Nazarea, author of There Is a Season: An Intentional Approach to Sustenance.

"Through a rich and interesting narrative, Huambachano takes us on a journey to Quechua and Māori farms while challenging Western paradigms of industrial agricultural production."—Kyle Whyte, Faculty Director of the Tishman Center for Social Justice and the Environment, University of Michigan


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