Aboriginal food

Page Content
  1. Introduction to aboriginal food
  2. Colonists negative impact on bush tucker
  3. The nutrition of a bush tucker diet
  4. Storage and preparation of bush tucker



The Australian aborigines had a vast knowledge of native plant and animal food their knowledge dates back over 40,000 years. Australian aboriginal food is also known has bush tucker.

The men hunted for marine and land animals while the woman gathered foods like reptiles, plants and honey. Geophagy was also practised by the aborigines.

Special food was given out to the young, elders and pregnant women. Most of the bush tucker was consumed raw but some foods were baked or roasted using hot campfire coals or ground ovens.

Every food that the aborigines consumed has a link to spirituality.

Colonists negative impact on bush tucker


Bush tucker was often considered inferior by the colonialists a view that continued until the 20th century.

Unfortunately the use of bush tucker was extremely impacted by the colonists who introduced non indigenous foods to the aborigines.

The result of this was a near complete abandonment of bush foods by the aborigines. However since the 1970's bush food has gained in popularity as more and more people realize their nutrition value.

The nutrition of a bush tucker diet


The traditional bush tucker diet is
  • Low in sugars
  • High in nutrient density
  • High in fiber
  • High in nutrient density
  • Severely low in saturated fat
  • Low in total fat
  • High in polyunsaturated fatty acids this includes the omega 6 and omega 3 families

Storage and preparation of bush tucker


Some foods, such as seeds, required careful preparation to make it suitable for eating. Soaking, pounding, grinding, baking in careful rituals would remove toxins from foods.

Nuts from the spiky panaanus palm required six weeks treatment before they could be eaten. They were then baked into a tasty and nutritious nut bread which was also very popular with the earliest European settlers. The tastes of many fruits were improved by burying them in sand for one day.

Grains were sometimes stored in caves, hollow trees or under bark slabs. One store of 17 wooden dishes held an estimated 1000 kg of grains.

Forms of agriculture, such as building dams were practised in some parts of Australia but they were not farmers, they grew only to supplement the diet.

See Early days of sauna history and all herbal knowledge of the Australian aborigines for more information about aborigine healing methods.

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