Subsistence Practice in Coastal Louisiana
An in-depth study of the power and pride of cooking, hunting, harvesting, foraging, and thriving in coastal Louisiana
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.
"This highly readable book explores the ways people along the bayous of south Louisiana get food. Regis and Walton, collaborating with a team of researchers, have assembled an impressive array of stories, practices, strategies, and insights into fishing, hunting, gardening, and more. They use this data to show how getting and sharing food is related to socializing children, maintaining kin and friend networks, and building communities. This is ethnographic work at its best, destined to be a classic in the anthropology of food, food studies, and research on south Louisiana and rural America."- David Beriss, professor at the University of New Orleans and editor of FoodAnthropology