Autumn is here! That means it is Acorn gathering and eating season!
For thousands of years, people who lived among oaks in the Northern Hemisphere relied heavily on acorns as a food source. In fact, acorns and chestnuts were the primary sources of carbohydrates until the domestication of agriculture and wheat, starting 10,000 years ago. Even after the large-scale production of grains, acorns continued to be an important food staple. Peoples who ate acorns as a mainstay are now called baleocultures. Sadly, the processing of acorn food in our modern world is a mostly lost cultural skill. Luckily, however, there are some traditions globally that continue it, including Korea, and there is a resurgence of interest in wild-crafting and post-industrial-age survival foods.
In California, acorns constituted the primary diet of more than 3/4 of all Native American tribes. For some, acorns comprised up to 45% of their diet! Acorns were second to only salt among food items traded among Indians. Some tribal families, including the Miwok in Yosemite Valley, ate up to 500 lbs. of acorns a year! Acorns were made into a variety of mushes and breads. Nutritionally, depending upon the species, acorns are made up of 18% fat, 6% protein, are made up of 68% carbohydrates, and contain significant amounts of Vit. A & C.
TreeGirl is an author, photographer, arborist, naturalist, forest ecotherapist and conservation educator bridging humans with wild nature.