Some of the first written evidence of food taboos can be found in Leviticus in the Bible, forbidding the consumption of fish and underwater creatures without fins or scales, among other dietary restrictions. Throughout the world in different cultures and religions, a variety of dietary restrictions exist. The origin of these rules is often debated. For Alpina Begossi, Natalia Hanazaki and Rossano Ramos (Universidade de Campinas, Brazil), the question of food taboos led to an investigation of the dietary restrictions among fishers in the Amazon and Atlantic Forest.
The researchers interviewed fishers in 18 coastal communities and along four Amazonian rivers. Begossi and colleagues interviewed adults as well as observed them on fishing trips, noted their diet, and the medicinal uses of fish.
The group discovered certain fish species, especially ones that predated other fish, were the most often mentioned as taboo, along with scaleless fish and Black prochilodus, a species that feeds at the bottom of rivers. Other species the communities avoided included catfish and piranha. The marine fishers on the Atlantic forest generally avoided tuna, rays, and sea catfish.
Annie Drinkard | EurekAlert!
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