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Abstract Detail

Economic Botany Section

Taylor, David William [1], Anderson, Gregory J. [2].

Cultural Persistence Over Time and Space: Viandas in the Diet of the Puerto Rican Community of Hartford, CT, and Botanical Teaching Opportunities.

We study the persistence of diet in emigrees with a focus on the importance of “viandas” (starchy crops from roots, underground stems, and immature fruiting structures) in the diet of the Puerto Rican community of Hartford, CT. This study has two parts: 1) A year-long inventory of the fresh produce available in the markets of the Puerto Rican neighborhoods in Hartford, and 2) A comparison of the produce diversity from Hartford with that of “plazas de mercado” in Puerto Rico. Market inventories and interviews with vendors show a remarkable similarity in the total diversity of produce, including viandas, in both sites. Hartford markets had 21 different vianda crops, from 16 species and 9 families; only one additional vianda crop was found in Puerto Rico. However, in Hartford only 12 of these vianda crops were present for at least 11 months out of the year, while reports indicate that most vianda crops in Puerto Rico are available year round. Interestingly, the majority of vianda crops in both sites were imported from the Dominican Republic -- due to lower price. Locally grown viandas in Puerto Rico are more highly valued, and more expensive, in Puerto Rico, but these never reach Hartford. The persistence of diverse vianda crops in the diet of Hartford Puerto Ricans is testimony to their cultural significance in this community.

Broader Impacts:
Given that Puerto Rican youths in Hartford are familiar with these vianda crops through their diet, these crops can be used for culturally meaningful botanical lessons in K-12 and even college classrooms. Our preliminary efforts to use this material in biology classrooms have shown that Hartford Puerto Rican students feel an "ownership" of the botanical lessons when they involve culturally significant crops such as viandas. We are presently developing instructional aids for teachers of Puerto Rican students, so that teachers can better understand the biology and identification of these crops, and then utilize them effectively in the classroom.

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1 - University of Portland, Department of Biology, Swindells Hall 108, MSC 163, 5000 N Willamette Blvd., Portland , OR , 97203, USA
2 - University of Connecticut, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 75 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, Connecticut, 06269, USA

Puerto Rican
Puerto Rico
root crops
starchy crops
Economic Botany
market inventory.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 16
Location: 552B/Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: 16003
Abstract ID:745

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