Author: Pei-Lin Yu 余琲琳

Pei-Lin Yu 余琲琳
Dr. Pei-Lin Yu, Associate Professor of Archaeology at Boise State University, has a Taiwanese father and an American mother. Dr. Yu has worked in public archaeology and indigenous cultural heritage for 28 years and lived with hunter-gatherers in South America for two years. She is eager to explore and respect Taiwan’s cultural diversity past and present.

Wild, Tame, and In-Between: Traditional Agricultural Knowledge of Taiwan Indigenous People

Introduction and Background      Many of us would agree that Senator J. William Fulbright’s vision of “a world with a little more knowledge and a little less conflict” will feature healthy ecosystems, appreciation of cultural diversity, and of course, delicious food. However, the world has been moving in the wrong direction over the past century. Today, 75% of the world’s plant food is made up of only 12 species. As of 2010, three (rice, maize, and wheat) provided nearly 60 percent of the calories and proteins that humans derive from plants (F.A.O 2010, 1999) and this trend continues (Khoury et al. 2014). This dramatic impact on the world’s agro-biodiversity is accompanied by accelerating environmental degradation, the loss of diverse cultural understandings and appreciation of food, and an increasingly bland globalized menu – one that isn’t even very healthy.      Luckily, diverse culture and food have an ancient and fascinating history in Taiwan. Hunting and fishing practices stretch back to Paleolithic times, and the earliest farming of rice and millet date to Neolithic pioneers who likely migrated to Taiwan from across the Taiwan Strait around 6,000 years ago (Chang and Goodenough 1996, Li 2013, Tsang 2005). Growing from these

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