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Beyond protein intake: bushmeat as source of micronutrients in the Amazon

Flavia M. Sarti, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Complex Systems, University of São Paulo
Cristina Adams, School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (EACH) and Institute of Energy and Environment (IEE), University of São Paulo
Carla Morsello, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Complex Systems, University of São Paulo; Institute of Energy and Environment, University of São Paulo
Nathalie van Vliet, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Tatiana Schor, Geography Department, Universidade Federal do Amazonas
Blanca Yagüe, Independent consultant
Leady Tellez, Independent consultant
Maria Paula Quiceno-Mesa, Fundación Science International
Daniel Cruz, Fundación Science International


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Wild meat is critical for the food security and income of millions of people, especially for poor rural households. Its role as a primary source of macronutrients worldwide has been recognized, but there have been few attempts to evaluate the contribution of bushmeat consumption to micronutrient intake. This is so particularly in the context of nutritional transitions induced by modernization and globalization. Here, we calculated the role of bushmeat as a source of micronutrients in the diets of urban and peri-urban inhabitants within the Tres Fronteras (Peru, Brazil, Colombia) region in the Amazon. We gathered food intake data from 35 households using 3-day 24-h food recalls combined with food weighing. Additionally, we interviewed 105 households on food consumption frequency. Our results indicate that 14.3% of the households consumed bushmeat, which represented approximately 32% of their caloric intake, 72% of consumed protein, and 77% of iron. Typically, households consuming bushmeat presented higher a nutritional status, i.e., lower intake of carbohydrates (−10%) and higher intake of proteins (+46%), iron (+151%), and zinc (+23%), than households not consuming bushmeat. Most of the sampled households did not achieve standard nutritional requirements for calories (94%), fiber, vitamin C, or iron (97%) per adult per day. None of the households achieved the recommended daily intake for calcium. Households consuming bushmeat consumed statistically significantly higher levels of iron, zinc, and vitamin C than households that did not eat bushmeat. The latter consumed an excess of 31% calories from processed foods per adult per day, and lower amounts of iron (−60%) and zinc (−19%). We argue that households not consuming bushmeat are at greater risk of anemia in the short run and other chronic health problems in the long run.

Key words

Amazon; bushmeat; conservation; food intake; micronutrients; nutrition

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087