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Dietary Changes over Time in a Caiçara Community from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Priscila L. MacCord, Universidade Estadual de Campinas
Alpina Begossi, Universidade Estadual de Campinas

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Abstract

Because they are occurring at an accelerated pace, changes in the livelihoods of local coastal communities, including nutritional aspects, have been a subject of interest in human ecology. The aim of this study is to explore the dietary changes, particularly in the consumption of animal protein, that have taken place in Puruba Beach, a rural community of caiçaras on the São Paulo Coast, Brazil, over the 10-yr period from 1992–1993 to 2002–2003. Data were collected during six months in 1992–1993 and during the same months in 2002–2003 using the 24-hr recall method. We found an increasing dependence on external products in the most recent period, along with a reduction in fish consumption and in the number of fish species eaten. These changes, possibly associated with other nonmeasured factors such as overfishing and unplanned tourism, may cause food delocalization and a reduction in the use of natural resources. Although the consequences for conservation efforts in the Atlantic Forest and the survival of the caiçaras must still be evaluated, these local inhabitants may be finding a way to reconcile both the old and the new dietary patterns by keeping their houses in the community while looking for sources of income other than natural resources. The prospect shown here may reveal facets that can influence the maintenance of this and other communities undergoing similar processes by, for example, shedding some light on the ecological and economical processes that may occur within their environment and in turn affect the conservation of the resources upon which the local inhabitants depend.

Key words

Atlantic Forest ; Brazil; caiçara; social-ecological resilience; dietary change; fish consumption; animal protein; food delocalization; niche breadth
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087