January 1, 1912
Dr Hutton writes about the exclusive meat diet among the Eskimos of Labrador noting "their disregard of vegetable foods"
Among the Eskimos of Labrador; a Record of Five Years' Close Intercourse With the Eskimo Tribes of Labrador
Samuel King Hutton
I wonder are the Eskimos unique among the nations in their disregard of vegetable foods? I sometimes saw them getting young willow shoots and one or two other little bits of green, and eating them as a relish to their meat; but they make absolutely no attempt to till what soil there is, and they do not even make the most of the plants that grow. During the short weeks of summer the vegetation springs up in a perfectly marvelous manner. . . . Surely among this wild scramble of plant life there must be some things that are good to eat! I know that there are plenty of dandelion leaves, and I have tasted worse things in my time, but the people never touch them.
It was a marvel to me how the Eskimos managed to keep free from scurvy, eating so little green food; but the settlers on the coast say that seal meat does instead of vegetables, presumably because there are similar salts in it, and so eaters of seal meat are able to keep healthy. It is very likely true, for the Eskimos, whose main food it is, are practically free from scurvy. We Europeans could never take to seal meat; it looks very black and nasty, and has a queer, inky, fishy taste that goes against a fastidious palate; but the people only smile at our lack of appreciation of their greatest delicacy, and tell us "Mamadlarpok" (it tastes fine).
But though gardening is entirely foreign to the Eskimo nature, they do not entirely scorn the good things of the earth . . . In most years the scrubby bushes that crawl upon the ground are loaded with succulent berries—a truly marvelous provision—and the people gather them not only by the handfuls and bucketfuls, but by barrelfuls.
Among the Eskimos of Labrador; a record of five years' close intercourse with the Eskimo tribes of Labrador by S. K Hutton( Book )
24 editions published in 1912 in English and held by 238 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Account based on author's experience as medical missionary on Killinek Island, 1908-12