The Decolonizing Diet Project (DDP) was a pilot study of the relationship between humans and Indigenous foods of the Great Lakes Region. Dr. Martin Reinhardt, associate professor of Native American Studies served as the principal investigator and a research subject for the DDP.

The planning phase of the project ran from 2010 to 2012. The implementation phase ran from March 25, 2012 to March 24, 2013. The analysis and reporting phase was from March 25, 2013 to Summer of 2014.

Dr. Reinhardt authored a chapter in the following publication about the outcomes of the DDP:

Reinhardt, M. (2015). “Spirit food: A multidimensional overview of the Decolonizing Diet Project”. Indigenous Innovation: Universalities and Peculiarities, eds., E. Sumida Huaman and B. Sriraman. Rotterdam: Sense.

Reinhardt co-authored a DDP Cookbook with fellow research subjects Leora Lancaster and April Lindala:

Reinhardt, M., Lancaster, L., and Lindala, A. (2016). Decolonizing Diet Project Cookbook. Featuring Indigenous food recipes from the Great Lakes Region. Marquette, MI: Northern Michigan University, Center for Native American Studies. Reinhardt is currently working on another chapter for an upcoming publication which will feature his and his wife's (Tina Moses) reflections about the DDP.

A DDP Three Year Follow-Up Study was recently conducted by K. Nim Reinhardt, a senior nursing student and Indian Health Services Scholar/McNair Scholar at NMU (and yes, she is Dr. Reinhardt's older daughter too). Findings from this study may be submitted for publication soon also.

The DDP continues to influence many other projects and has a wide following on Facebook and in communities around the world. Dr. Reinhardt continues to present on the project and will be looking at future projects related to the outcomes of the DDP.

We would like to thank all of those who have assisted with the DDP over the years and would be more than happy to answer any questions about the DDP via email at:

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Interview with Peter Payette and Scott Herron

This morning I was interviewed by Peter Payette at Interlochen Public Radio, along with Scott Herron from Ferris State University. To listen to the interview click on the link below and then click on the native diet mp3 link.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Legal/Political Impacts on Planning the DDP

Well, we are starting to see how law and politics may impact our study. We are planning a fieldtrip to harvest white pine next week to get the cambium (inner bark) and the needles. In preparation I contacted the US Forest Service and asked what permissions we would need. I explained that I have a tribal harvest permit but that the student workers do not. I was told that we would need to get a free use permit. I was also told that although I have a tribal permit that I was still expected to contact them and ask for permission which they would attach to the free use permit application. I am attaching a scanned copy of the form to this posting. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Moosewood, Marquette Food Co-op, Sunflower Oil, Apios Americana, etc.

I am excited to try sunflower oil as a medium for cooking, as a salad dressing, etc. I have never tried it before so it will be new to me. I got 17 groundnut tubers in the mail yesterday! Can you believe the only place I found them was on ebay, haha! We are going to try and plant them in the NMU greenhouse and see if we can get them to generate more for the DDP. We are going to try some in wooden boxes with soil, and some in pots, and maybe a few in a water environment. We may be closing in on the corn and bean varieties soon. I am leaning toward including all non-gmo corn at this point, as I have yet to see any evidence that would suggest I should rule any out. We are excited about the possibility of working with Moosewood Nature Center here in Marquette as a partner. Andrew Bek is the director and will also be applying as a research subject. We are also enthused about the relationship we are fostering with the Marquette Food Co-op and other local food providers. Abbey and Sarah and Brian have been very helpful and we look forward to working with them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Human Breast Milk

After much thought, I have decided that human breast milk should be included as an eligible food for the DDP. It was a food that was available in a pre-colonial context in the Great Lakes Region, and it has great nutritional value. It will probably seem strange for many to consider adult consumption of human breast milk, but when you think about it, it is any more strange to drink cow milk? Human breast milk availability will be an interesting challenge for research subjects. It will obviously be availble to any lactating mothers that are among our group, but for the rest of us, it may not be as easy to access. I have found a couple of sources that are available online. I have communicated with one human breast milk provider about availability and cost. She has suggested that she is willing to undergo a medical screening, and usually gets between $1-3 per ounce for her milk. I have also read a few articles about human breast milk being used as medicine both historically and in a contemporary context.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Master Food List Posted at DDP Group Site

We are happy to announce that the master food list for the DDP has been posted at the group site. This is a work in progress, so please be patient with us as we fine tune it and update it every so often. We welcome your feedback. Please send comments or suggestions to  We are also excited about our first informational gatherting today, and the addition of two new members of the DDP crew--Mallory Huizenga and Dorothy Feltner! Mallory is a freshman fellow, and Dorothy is a student volunteer who will be working with us to research and develop an Indigenous Garden on campus at NMU. By the way, I got another deer earlier this week!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

DDP Group Site is Up and Running!

I am pleased to announce that the DDP group site is now available for use by DDP staff, research subjects, and the general public. On the site you will be able to download files, hold live textbased chats, participate in discussion forums, and catch up on DDP news and updates. We will be posting the DDP eligible foods list to the group site soon. If you are not an NMU student, staff, or faculty member, you should use the guest login option. A link to the group site is below and also included in the DDP links on this site.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Salt and Other Updates

It was a very busy week last week. I finished up with my Week of Eating Indigenous Foods challenge. I stopped after lunch on Day 6 so I could eat the foods at our 11th Annual First Nations Food Taster which presents a mix of traditional and contemporary foods. I have now found enough evidence to convince me that salt was part of our pre-colonial diet, and is accessible through salt springs in Lower Michigan or near surface salt deposits in other areas. I had a really interesting conversation with Lori Roman, the president of the Salt Institute about the importance of sodium in our diets. I made leak salt by drying the white parts of several leeks and then grinding them. We also dried some cranberries which I will save for snacks at the beginning of the DDP. I ordered 100 pounds of bison hearts, livers, kidneys and tongues. This should be some interesting eating! Tina and I have also started experimenting with making wild rice sour dough bread using natural yeast. We are into day 3 of our mix with that, and it is starting to smell like yeast, so we are excited and hopeful! We will have a DDP group site up and running soon. I will announce it as soon as it is ready for the public. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

4th Day of Week of Eating Indigenous Foods

I am well into my 4th day of the Week of Eating Indigenous foods today. It has been a good learning experience thus far. I am really glad that Devon Mihesua proposed that we do this. Some of the lessons I have learned thus far include:

* Have more than three indigenous spices available for cooking (I need a greater variety of tastes).
* Be careful when cooking non-indigenous foods for other folks that you don't lick your fingers or sample the food (I caught myself almost doing this three times).
* Black walnuts are much more potent than English walnuts (it don't take much to add flavor, I suggest grinding them and using like a spice).
* If you freeze wild-rice milk it changes the consistency when it thaws to something that resembles baby food (it tastes really good though, and will make a nice breakfast food or soup starter).
* Use non-stick pans if possible so the food don't stick to the surface (the meats are lean, and I have not found an oil that is acceptable for the DDP yet).

To see postings about the Week of Eating Indigenous Foods visit the following website:

The photos attached to this posting are from this week.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Moose Meat Burgers Last Night

We enjoyed some moose meat on the grill last night thanks to family members. We also did some shopping over the weekend and yesterday and found organic free range turkey, bison, whitefish, walleye, pumpkins, squash, pure cranberry concentrate, morels, black walnuts, and ground venison. I have decided to include Domestic Turkey and Pekin Duck as part of the DDP eligible foods list. Domestic Turkey is the same specie as wild turkey. Pekin Duck is the same specie as Mallard. We will be opening the DDP group site soon, and will have our food lists posted there. We strongly encourage the public to offer any corrections about the lists. I recently sent a letter to the editor of Marquette Monthly Magazine, and in it I suggested that if potential food donors want to donate quail (among other frozen or dried food items) that they contact me. I appreciate George Lindquist's call to inform us that quail are not indigenous to the Great Lakes Region. There are two birds often called quail that are indigenous however, these include the Northern Bobwhite, and the Grouse. We will be using the Avibase bird database as our primary source for determining eligible bird species for the DDP.  The link is included on our blog under DDP links, or you can click on the following url address:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week of Eating Indigenous Foods

I started my week of eating Indigenous foods this morning. I plan to go until next saturday, but will not include dinner on Saturday as we are going to a spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and I don't think they will be serving anything free of post-colonial food. I encourage folks to visit the Week of Eating Indigenous Foods blog to see how things turn out. This is a good exercise for me and others that are planning on applying as research subjects for the DDP.

Wild Rice Milk

I woke up Saturday morning (my Dad's birthday) at 6am because we forgot to shut an alarm off. It sure would have been nice to sleep in! Oh well, I made good use of the time. I decided to make some wild rice milk. I used 2 pounds of wild rice, and cooked it down for 3 hours by constantly stirring and adding water when it got down to the top of the rice. After it looked like rice pudding, I used the blender to mix it with water in a 1 to 1 ratio (I filled the blender half with the rice and half with water). Oh yeah, before I forget, make sure you hold the lid down on the blender! After it was blended I poured it through a wire mesh strainer to remove the big stuff from the liquid. I set the solids aside and then further strained the liquid through an old (clean) white t-shirt (yep, the same one we used for crab apples). What remained afterward was a slightly tan colored liquid. Each blender full made about 1 quart. I mixed 1/4 cup of maple sugar with each quart and ended up with 5 quarts. I am going to use the leftover solids (what I am calling wild rice meal) in other recipes, so I froze it in 2 portions.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sweet Fern, Wintergreen, and a Slippery Jack Mushroom

While out deer hunting this weekend (nope didn't get any, but saw like 15 or so) I took an opportunity to harvest some sweet fern and wintergreen leaves. I gathered the dried sweet fern one day, and then I gathered some that were still green the next day. The green ones have a much more potent smell to them, but the dried ones were easy to crush and make into powdery form. I am going to try sweet fern and wintergreen both as a seasoning on venison and also as tea. I also picked a mushroom that I later identified as a bolet using the USDA field guide. I emailed mushroom expert Dr. Dana Richter a few photos, and he confirmed my suspicion that it was in fact a bolet probably of the slippery jack variety. Kenn Pitawanakwat and I sampled the mushroom and it tasted ok, nothing to jump up and down about, but it was edible. I also showed the mushroom to Dr. Alan Rebertus, who teaches a class on mushrooms here at NMU, and he agreed that it was likely an edible bolet species. We hope to have both Alan and Dana do some consulting for the DDP next year. By the way, Alan said that there have been more than a few mushroom poisonings this year, so please be very careful if you intend to collect mushrooms.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Made Pectin and Gathered Cranberries

We were successful in making pectin from crab apples. I did the test of pouring some of the syrup into a bit of rubbing alcohol and sure enough it gelled up! I made some unsweetened crab apple sauce also. It was a real chore to seperate the stems and seeds from the rest. Someone should invent a carb apple tool like they have for big apples. I froze the crab apple sauce, and kept the syrup in the refrigerator. Sam, Alex and I went out to the cranberry bog and got a couple of containers full of cranberries the other day. Tina and I got two more containers full the next day. It has been so nice out, but it is suppose to get colder and rainy this week. I also froze the cranberries we got.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Crab Apple Syrup

Yesterday, Sam Hasek and I harvested a mkak (birch bark basket) full of crab apples from the tree near the Center for Native American Studies here on campus. I boiled them down whole for about an hour and a half last night, and then I strained it through a white t-shirt. What I found when I removed the cloth this morning was a thick syrupy liquid. It tastes very good, a bit tart and a bit sweet. I think it will tatse very good over venison steaks, wild rice, and many other indigenous foods. I think if I boiled it down a bit more, I would be able to seperate the pectin from the juice more, but it tastes so good as it is, I may just leave it. I will put the fiberous materials out for the deer this evening. Next time, I will remove stems and seeds before boiling it down so I can use the fibrous material left over as crab apple sauce. The last thing I did this morning was to mix some maple syrup with the crab apple syrup. Mmmmmm, was that good! The mixture of 2 parts crab apple syrup to 1 part maple syrup was a bit sweet, so for those folks who like it more tart, they may want to start with a 3 to 1 mixture.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pectin from Crab Apples and Cherries

I spent a couple hours yesterday researching ways to get pectin from indigenous Great Lakes plants. Domesticated apples are the most common source of pectin on the market, but apparently they are not indigenous to this region. Certain varieties of crab apples are from this region and can be used to make pectin. There are also a couple of different species of cherries that can be used. Pectin is important for making jellies. I will try replacing sugar (also an important component of jellies) with maple sugar. Interestingly enough, the USDA plant database does not list crab apples as palatable (probably because they are so tart).

I also skinned the deer last night and quartered it. I will soak the skin for a couple of weeks and then try to remove the hair. I need to set-up an area out at the old school to do my hyde tanning. I have been giving some thought to a possible topic for the next project--decolonized clothing. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Deer Last Night

I am very pleased to announce that I got my first deer last night out at the old school property. It was a young buck and weighed a ton (at least it felt like it). My wife Tina and my uncle Tom helped me field-dress and hang it up in the garage. I will be skinning it this evening. I was told that we are suppose to give our first deer away and that the only part we keep is the heart. I am going to save the heart for my first meal when I start the DDP in the spring. It will be a very special meal in many ways. I will also eat wild rice, leaks and berries that Tina and I harvested this year. I will drink maple sap from our trees out at the old school property. I am getting hungry just thinking about that first meal. I will donate the rest to the First Nations Food Taster at NMU on Nov 4, 2011.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

IRB Approved and Moving Along

The Decolonizing Diet Project is now an approved project by the Northern Michigan University Institutional Review Board (IRB Proposal HS11-415). I am really looking forward to the mini-DDP that Dr. Devon Mihesuah is coorinating in support of the DDP during the first week of November to kick off Native American Heritage Month. See a link to her blog below.

The DDP staff and I are busy researching food availability, and welcome any suggestions that folks have about Great Lakes Region indigenous food providers. I want to introduce Samantha "Sam" Hasek and Alexandra "Alex" Kerlin who will be working on the DDP with me this year.

We will begin our recruitment of research subjects soon. Please see the announcement at the website below and visit the Center for Native American Studies website for further information.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We have decided to treat the next year as a research and planning year for the DDP. When the maple sap starts to run in 2012, we will begin the implementation phase of the project. I had hoped to be ready this year, but after much thought and consultation with others, we think it wise to wait until after we have had more time to consider the various dimensions, and to pepare. It is good to see how excited people get when we talk about this idea, however. I believe that much good will come of this.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This is the beginning of my DDP blog journal. I had the idea for the DDP a few months ago, and it is now starting to take shape. Since that time, I have shared the idea with others and people really seem to like it and the discussion that ensues is very energized. April Lindala and the faculty and staff at the Northern Michigan University Center for Native American Studies have been very supportive of this idea. We have begun looking into grant funding from a couple of sources, and I have been developing a white paper that explains the idea in as much detail as we have figured out thus far. I have also begun researching the food stuffs for the diet, and Maddy Segerstrom, our student assistant has developed a structure for the database.
There are folks in Michigan, Wisconsin, British Columbia, and Hawaii that have shown great interest, and I anticipate that as word spreads there will be many more. As I travel during the DDP implementation phase, I will try to eat food that is indigenous to the places I go, or I will bring my own indigenous food stuff with me. Wouldn’t it be great if there were restaurants that specialized in this type of menu!
The other morning as I lay awake in bed, it occurred to me that products coming out of this project should include a DDP recipe book, posters showing indigenous species of plants and animals that were part of the DDP, a documentary video, articles, and a book full of photos and journal entries. Needless to say, I am very excited about the DDP, and as I get closer to the start date, my whole body seems to be in anticipation.