Indigenous chef Art Napoleon shares cooking tips in the time of social distancing, coronavirus fears

The costar of Moosemeat & Marmalade draws on his culture, upbringing to be prepared

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      B.C. Indigenous chef Art Napoleon has some advice when it comes to food and cooking during the growing spread of novel coronavirus and calls in response to stay home.

      Napoleon is of Nehiyaw (Cree) and Dunne-za (Beaver) descent. A Victoria-based musician who’s actively involved in the cultural revitalization of the Cree Language, he stars on the APTN show Moosemeat & Marmalade.

      Growing up on a reservation on Moberly Lake near Chetwynd, B.C., he and his family hunted and foraged, smoked meat and game, and made jerky to last through the winter.  

      “I refuse to join the hysteria and have been prepared for a while cuz I’m a bushman from the northern woods,” Napoleon said in  March 17 Facebook post called Food for a Nest.

      Here are his tips, which he shared with the Straight:

      1. If you have any knife skills at all, buy bulk meat if you can. It’s actually cheaper if you can break it down & package it yourself. I use ziploc freezer bags with the air squeezed out and haven’t had any meat go bad on me yet. I’ve broken down entire animals in my kitchen but you don’t have to be that extreme! Buy large chunks you can cut into steaks or roasts then package & label.

      2. Buying mass produce is a waste if you can’t get through it because it goes bad. Focus on food staples that will last like beans, rice, canned tomatoes, onions, squash, root veggies, dried goods etc. Remember you could be stuck with it all and others also need to eat so don’t be an extreme hoarder! If your fridge is bulging you may be wasting food.

      3. Eat simply and plan meals efficiently such as making use leftovers and other foods with a shorter shelf life. Make your own bread at home and freeze the surplus. Teach your kids to bake.

      4. If you struggle with affording food and you like a little spice, pre-packaged Indian meals are a great nutritious option. Invest in a large bag of rice and buy several of these packages which are only $2.50 each. They are a meal for two and easy to prepare. Vimal is one of the brands.

      5. Learn to can or dehydrate foods. It’s one way to make produce last. It’s easier than you think. Learn to like the taste of weak coffee. 150 FN band offices can’t be wrong.

      6. Buy some candles, learn to cook and plan a few meals with your loved ones and enjoy meal time again. Put away cell phones and bring back the lost practice of discussions over meals.

      7. If you are not a red meat eater, canned mackerel, tuna and sardines are cheap nutritious options.

      8. Minimize all waste and give thanks for your food. Not everyone eats like you do!