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The 2004-2005 Hopi Food Assessment may represent the most comprehensive survey of Hopi food and farming practices to be conducted in recent times. It may also represent one of the most detailed contemporary assessments of food practices in an indigenous community. The data was gathered and compiled by Hopi community members through the Indigenous Pride Health Workers program and reveals a picture of Hopi food purchasing and farming practices, economy, and community health.
HIGHLIGHTS - The Hopi Food Economy
Food and farming plays a significant, though often overlooked, role in the overall Hopi economy. The food economy includes not just the value of food purchased, but also the food grown and distributed locally as well as the amount spent by community members to personally transport food to Hopi. Given the changes to community health and economy, we may well consider how dependence on outside food sources and the great costs incurred to bring food to Hopi in effect contributes to a loss of community sovereignty.
• The total size of the Hopi food and farming economy is between $18 and 22 million dollars a year. This includes the cost of food, the amount Hopi personally spend to bring food on to the reservation, and the value of food grown locally.
• If we include the health care costs associated with diet-related illness, the total annual cost of food at Hopi may very well exceed $35 million dollars per year.
• Hopi spend nearly 7 million dollars a year to transport food into their communities. Because of personal transportation costs, Hopi in effect pay a 66% premium on food purchases. On average, each Hopi shopper spends an extra $2000 per year bringing food into their households and villages.
Diet and lifestyle changes are the leading cause of the diseases most commonly afflicting Hopi.
• Between 15% and 21% of all respondents had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
• The majority of respondents (76%) had Body Mass Indices (BMI) indicating that they were overweight or obese.
• Hopi who had been diagnosed as obese were also 4 to 6 times more likely to experience other diseases.
• 60% of respondents who were obese had not been formally diagnosed. These individuals also knew less about obesity and the possible health risks.
• Males, elders, youth and individuals from low income families had significantly less knowledge about obesity and the health consequences.
• More than 1/4 of the respondents who were overweight thought that their bodies were within the normal range.
Farming and Local Food Consumption
Historically, Hopi has demonstrated tremendous cultural resiliency. Although many indicators point to a decline
in local farming practices, it is also quite possible that shifting conditions can and will lead to a strengthening of the highly evolved farming practices that have sustained Puebloan people for so long. If this is to happen, older practitioners will need to work hard to ensure that younger generations are equipped to carry on the practices.
• Although at one time Hopi was almost entirely self-sufficient, presently less than a third of the respondents farmed.
If farming is indeed the foundation of Hopi cultural and religious life, community leaders may well want to consider what it means if the majority of all food grown is produced elsewhere.
• Community members cited lack of water and access to productive lands as the chief barriers to farming.
• Respondents who did not farm were 10 times more likely to cite access to land as an issue.
• Many respondents said youth were not interested in learning about Hopi food and farming.
• Nearly 75% of young respondents, however, cited the contrary, stating that they were in fact interested in learning how to farm.
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