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Bayou Harvest

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To inhabitants of the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana, food is much more than nourishment. The acts of gathering, preparing, and sharing food are ways to raise children, bond with friends, and build community. In Bayou Harvest: Subsistence Practice in Coastal Louisiana, Helen A. Regis and Shana Walton examine how coastal residents deploy self-reliance and care for each other through harvesting and sharing food. Pulling from four years of fieldwork and study, Walton and Regis explore harvesting, hunting, and foraging by Native Americans, Cajuns, and other Bayou residents. This engagement with Indigenous thinkers and their neighbors yields a multifaceted view of subsistence in Louisiana. Readers will learn about coastal residents’ love for the land and water, their deep connections to place, and how they identify with their food and game heritage. The book also delves into their worries about the future, particularly storms, pollution, and land loss in the coastal region.

Using a set of narratives that documents the everyday food practices of these communities, the authors conclude that subsistence is not so much a specific task like peeling shrimp or harvesting sassafras, but is fundamentally about what these activities mean to the people of the coast. Drawn together with immersive writing, this book explores a way of life that is vibrant, built on deep historical roots, and profoundly threatened by the Gulf’s shrinking coast.