2019  — № 1 (17)

Citation link:

Manichkin, N. A., Pushkareva, E. T. (2019). Izmenenija v tradicionnom pitanii nencev: kul’turno-istoricheskij faktor i zdorov’esberezhenie v uslovijah Krajnego Severa [Changes in traditional Nenets nutrition: cultural-historical factor and health preservation in Extreme North conditions. Medicinskaja antropologija i biojetika [Medical anthropology and bioethics], 17 (1).

Keywords: traditional nutrition, Nenets, peoples of the North, health preservation, Yamal, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District

Abstract: The interview reviews the consequences of changes in traditional Nenets nutrition, loss or modernization of certain dishes, the emergence of new food products, as well as a shortage of venison and local fish, and its consequences for people’s health in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. The problem of alcohol consumption is also discussed, including in connection with certain traditional ritual practices. Special attention is paid to possible actions for overcoming the negative consequences of changes in traditional Nenets nutrition.

Authors info:

Nestor Alexandrovich Manichkin is Cand. Sc. and Research Fellow at the Center of Medical Anthropology, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow).

Elena Timofeyevna Pushkareva is Deputy Scientific Director at Historical Illustration Company, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Assistant Professor, Minister-Counselor of Russia.


In the center of the interview are transformations in traditional nutrution system of the Nenets, that have occured in XX-XXI centuries, as well as the their consequences for the health and culture of the Nenets nation. The reasons of the changes were historical events: the establishment of the Soviet power, changes of the Nenets economic model, introduction of a state control over the nutrition among Extreme North peoples, influence of the Russian cuisine, introduction to the Nenets of food products from the global market. Elena Pushkareva, who has studied Nenets nutrition for many years, points out the loss of several traditional dishes, modernization of certain other dishes, as well as appearance of new products in the Nenets cuisine. In the medical sense, the most important factors are deficiency of venison and local fish, lack of cod liver oil, high price of stroganina (sliced frozen fish). All these factors lead to negative consequences for health of the local population of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.

The ration of the Nenets has changed also due to emergence of food supplements, spices, as well as the popularity of sugar. The interview touches upon the problem of alcohol consumption as well. Elena Pushkareva, unlike many of her colleagues, regards it not in the frameworks of the established discourse of an “epidemic alcoholization” and demoralization of the indigenous people – but in connection with certain traditional ritual practices, the use of intoxicating substances in rituals, and the so-called tipsy songs.

According to researchers of the Scientific Center for Arctic Studies, the ongoing decrease of traditional foods consumption has lead to further spread of hypertension, blood strokes, damage to the vascular system, ischemic disease, chronic bronchitis, excessive weight. Notably, the corresponding markers among the indigenous population look worse than those among the newly arrived people. In regards to this, the authorities have followed the recommendation from the Russian scientists to establish the minimal sufficient norm of traditional food consumption for hypertension prevention. This index has been included in the federal recommendations for nutrition in the Arctic.

The interview pays special attention to the problem of overcoming negative consequences of the changes in the traditional Nenets nutrition. Russian scientists think that it is possible to secure a preventive effect by consuming food two-four times a week. Recommended for chronic bronchitis and respiratory diseases prevention are broad whitefish, jackfish and venison are recommended. Siberian whitefish and venison work well in preventing excessive weight. Another important recommendation from the Scientific Center for Arctic Studies is to diversify agriculture and foster wild plants (cranberry, mossberry, blueberry).


Agbalyan, E.V. (2005) Prognosticheskaya znachimost faktorov pitaniya v formirovanii hronicheskih neinfekcionnyh zabolevanij na Krajnem Severe [The prognostic significance of nutrition factors in the formation of chronic noncommunicable diseases in the Far North], Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Biological Sciences, Nadym: Institute of Medical Problems of the Far North RAMS.

Agbalyan, E.V., Kolesnikov, R.A. (2018) Dinamika potrebleniya osnovnyh produktov pitaniya naseleniya [Dynamics of consumption of basic foodstuffs of the population], Vestnik TyumGU, ekologiya i prirodopolzovanie [Bulletin of TumSU, ecology and nature management], №3 (4), s. 6-21.

Gritsenko, V.N. (2004) Istorija Jamal’skogo Severa v ocherkah i dokumentah [History of the Yamal North in essays and documents], Omsk: Omsk Publishing House.

Ionova, I.E. (2004) Osobennosti haraktera pitaniya i zdorove korennogo (malochislennogo) i prishlogo naseleniya Krajnego Severa [Features of nutrition and health of the indigenous (small) and alien population of the Far North], synopsis of the PhD thesis in medical sciences, Nadym: Institute of Medical Problems of the Far North RAMS.

Lobanov, A.A., Popov A.I., Andronov, S.V. (2014) Innovacionnye produkty lechebnogo pitanija iz rastitel’nogo syr’ja Jamala [Innovative health food products from plant materials of Yamal], V.V. Vishnevsky (ed.), Trudy XVIII Mezhdunarodnogo Foruma po problemam nauki, tehniki i obrazovanija[Proceedings of the XVIII International Forum on the Problems of Science, Technology and Education], Moscow: Academy of Earth Sciences, p. 130–131.

Lobanov, A.A., Andronov, S.V., Kochkin R.A., Kostritsyn V.V., Lobanova L.P., Popov A.I., Bogdanova E.N. (2017) Razrabotka funkcional’nyh produktov pitanija na osnove rastitel’nogo i zhivotnogo syr’ja Arktiki [Development of functional food products based on plant and animal raw materials in the Arctic], Sbornik izbrannyh trudov po materialam Vserossijskoj nauchno-prakticheskoj konferencija s mezhdunarodnym uchastiem [Collection of selected works based on materials from the All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference with international participation], Arkhangelsk: KIRA, p. 476-480.

Lobanov, A.A., Andronov, S.V., Popov A.I., Lobanova L.P., Kostritsyn V.V., Kochkin R.A. (2017) Traditional Food System of the Nenets from North-Western Siberia and Reduction of the Risk of Respiratory and Blood Circulation Diseases, Materials IX international Congress (Arctic Social Sciences), Umeå, p. 25.

Pokhlebkin, V.V. (2000) Istorija vodka [History of Vodka], Moscow: Tsentrpoligraf.

Pushkareva, E.T. (2014) Arkticheskaja kuhnja v sovremennom obramlenii [Arctic cuisine in a modern setting], Arktika: sovremennye problemy razvitija regionov [Arctic: contemporary problems of regional development], Tyumen: Tyumen State University, p. 311–322.

Pushkareva, E.T. (2019) Gastronomicheskie vstrechi (jetnograficheskie ocherki o kuhne nencev i ne tol’ko…) [Gastronomic meetings (ethnographic essays about the Nenets cuisine and not only …)], Salekhard: Northern Publishing House (in print).

Pushkareva E. T. (1990) Lichnye pesni nencev [Nenets personal songs], Sovremennoe finno-ugrovedenie: opyt i problem [Modern Finno-Ugric Studies: experience and problems], L.: GME, s. 81–85.

Pushkareva, E.T. (2017) Transformacii v pitanii nencev za poslednie sto let. [Transformations in the nutrition of the Nenets over the past hundred years], V.I. Charitonova (ed.), Medicinskaja jetnografija: sovremennye podhody i koncepcii [Medical Ethnography: Modern Approaches and Concepts], Moscow: IEA RAS, p. 173–187.

Pushkareva, E.T. (2005) Kuhnja nencev (po polevym materialam) [Nenets cuisine (based on the field materials)], VI Kongress jetnografov i antropologov Rossii [VI Congress of Ethnographers and Anthropologists of Russia], St. Petersburg: MAE RAS, p. 226.

Uchenye i predstaviteli vlasti obsudjat voprosy prodovol’stvennoj bezopasnosti i zdorov’ja jamal’cev[Scientists and government officials will discuss issues of food security and the health of the Yamal] (2018) Nauchnyj centr izuchenija Arktiki [Arctic Research Center] (ученые-и-представители-власти-обсудя/) (06.05.2019).

Vsjo o pitanii: jamal’skie uchjonye uchastvujut vo vserossijskom kongresse dietologov i nutriciologov [All about nutrition: Yamal scientists participate in the All-Russian Congress of Nutritionists and Nutritionists] (2018) Nauchnyj centr izuchenija Arktiki [Arctic Research Center] (всё-о-питании-ямальские-учёные-участв/) (06.05.2019).

Yosida, A. (1997) Kultura pitaniya gydanskih nencev (interpretaciya i socialnaya adaptaciya) [Gydan Nenets food culture (interpretation and social adaptation)], M.: IEA RAS.