Tribal Youth Ambassadors – Advancing Cultural Opportunities to Reclaim Nutrition (ACORN)

The majority of American Indians in California have Type II diabetes. Historically, California Indians didn’t have diabetes. They had a varied diet and engaged in much physical activity to sustain their food resources. Acorns were central in their diets and eaten every day and contain complex carbohydrates, fiber and other properties that are being shown through research to help regulate blood sugar, intervene in complications from diabetes and prevent diabetes.

The Tribal Youth Ambassadors (TYA) of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (CIMCC) have produced a vegan acorn energy bar to address the diabetes epidemic, revitalize California Indian acorn traditions and protect and cultivate oak trees. The TYA developed a consumer- tested an acorn energy bar in 2016-17 and are seeking to produce it commercially in a youth-led social enterprise. The energy bar has several benefits beyond addressing diabetes. It would drive demand for a California-based acorn supply, thus spurring other micro- to macro-enterprise.

Concurrently, it would promote the protection of California Oaks as well which is truly needed. ACORN (Advancing Cultural Opportunities for Reclaiming Nutrition) aims to secure and advance California Indians’ reciprocal relationship with acorns into the future by increasing their consumption of acorns; advance local tribal traditions associated with acorn caretaking, gathering, and processing; and advance tribal stewardship of acorn food system landscapes.