Our people have always survived by hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering. This continues today, and recent studies have shown that harvesting the land still provides for most of our food. Bush food is also more nutritious and contains less calories than store bought food.
Moose and caribou makeup a large part of our diet. The meat is eaten fresh and preserved for later use, by smoking or drying it.
Small game animals such as rabbit and partridge, have always been an important food source. Many times in the past, when food was scarce, our people were saved from starvation by eating rabbits and partridges. Rabbits were more important, since they are plentiful and could be snared using small wire or twine.
Geese still makeup a large part of our diet, especially during the spring and fall migration periods. In the pastry were smoked or salted so the meat would last longer. Nowadays more people have freezers that are used to store the geese, although we continue to smoke and salt them because we enjoy the taste.
During the winter months, beaver is a very important food source, and they are trapped for the meat and for the fur. Muskrat are also eaten.
Fish are also a staple of our diet. Fish are harvested and eaten in all months of the year, although the summer is traditionally a time for fishing. Nets are set in the rivers or lakes to catch them, and baited hooks are also used. In the past fish were caught using nets, fish traps, or bone hooks and also ob wrapping bait around a piece of wood attached to a fishing line, which the fish would swallow. Often, fish were smoked to preserve them.
When available, berries, plants, eggs and seeds were gathered and eaten to supplement the meat and fish. Some plants were also gathered and eaten, including fireweed leaves and rose hips. Tea was made from brewing the leaves of the Labrador tea plant. Many people continue to gather berries during the summer months and preserve them for later use.
In the past when times were tough and food was scarce, people would eat almost anything. Geese feet were saved for times like these, and they were boiled to make soup. Bones were also crushed and boiled for soup The Mushkegowuk region has always been a harsh environment to survive in, and our elders often remind us that there were many hard times in the past when there was shortages of food.