Monday, 28 November 2016

Perceived reasons for changes in the use of wild food plants in Saaremaa, Estonia.

2016 Dec 1;107:231-241. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.08.011. Epub 2016 Aug 9.

Author information

  • 1Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, Tartu, Estonia. Electronic address:


Recent studies on the use of wild food plants have identified various reasons for their use and underlined their importance as an emergency food supply. This work analysed the content of narratives obtained as comments regarding the reasons for using or not using wild food plants mentioned during 48 semi-structured recorded interviews. The results show that past demand for the diversification of food experiences and taste was essential for the consumption of wild plants, while the present concern for the disappearance of wild food taxa familiar from childhood is one of the main reasons for decrease in their consumption. This indicates that people do not really feel that they need to use wild food plants anymore (except for the health benefits), and that they are concerned that their favourite plants are no longer available. The erosion of the practical use of wild food plants is also supported by the very small frequency in which the influence of teachings coming from outside the community was mentioned in discussions of both the past and present, and thus the loss of traditional uses is not really substituted by new uses acquired from elsewhere. Further research is needed to understand lay perceptions of the changes that have occurred in nature, society and the economy, in the context of their influence on the everyday use of wild food plants to appreciate the ways in which knowledge erosion takes place and to find means of retaining this basic knowledge within the society.


Estonia; Ethnobotany; Perception of changes; Perception of the availability of plants; Saaremaa; Unlearning debt; Wild food plants