When one does an interview or writes an article, one never knows what will spark the interest of people. My interview on CBC Radio 1’s “The House” was about whether or not team building could help the House of Canada. It was not about Bannock or its history. Bannock was mentionned only in passing for maybe 1 milli-second. Yet, the first comment I received about the interview was this:
Dear Ms Thornley-Brown
“Bannock” is not “an Inuit bread.” (They didn’t have a lot of flour).
For others who may be concerned about bannock, here is my response.
First of all, I want to clarify one thing, the broadcast said that Executive Oasis International organizes team building in wilderness settings. This is true but that’s not all we do. We actually specialize in business simulations to help teams and organizations improve their effectiveness. Some programmes have outdoor components, others don’t. I am not an outdoor specialist. I am a designer and facilitator of business team building simulations. We have a team of outdoor experts at each location in which we operate to the outdoor components of our survival programmes.
Wilderness Survival is only one of the programmes we offer. In Canada, in addition to wilderness survival, we also offer arctic survival. For arctic survival we add dog sledding, snow shoeing and other winter activities to the firestarter challenges, oienteering, and GPS challenges that we use in all of our survival programmes. We offer desert survival in Dubai, mountain team building in Oman, jungle survival in Malaysia, and island survival in Jamaica where I was born.
Now back to the comment about bannock.
Re: Bannock. My outdoor expert who trained TVs Survivor Man and many others would disagree with the comment that Bannock is not an Inuit bread. The Inuit consume a lot of Banock. Bannock has its roots possibly in Scotland. (It’s hard to say. People around the world have been making flat breads and bread on a stick since the dawn of time.) Some sources say that it was adapted by the Native peoples of America including the Inuit.
Flour was at one time a luxury item. Bannock isn’t always made with flour. There are numerous flour substitutes available in the wild (e.g wild turnips or corn, dried and ground to a powder). This is not to imply that the Inuit were cultivating corn. I am just pointing out that there are many flour substitues available worldwide. The beauty of the human existense is that we are able to learn from other cultures adapt and make things our own. For example, in Jamaica our national dish ackee and salt fish (cod fish). We don’t have any cod swimming in our waters and ackee did not originate in Jamaica but we have combined these ingredients and made them uniquely Jamaican. Rice and peas is another dish enthusiastically consumed in the West Indies and considered to be West Indian. Varieties of this dish are also consumed in Africa and South America. The fact that roti originated in India does not make it any less Trinidadian or Guyanese.
I realize that just because something is on the internet, it doesn’t mean that it is fact but clearly there are many sources that link bannock to the Inuit and other Native American peoples. Here is some more information:
Bannock is the typical home-prepared bread product consumed by First Nations, Metis, and Inuit in Canada. Bannock is known to make substantial contributions to daily energy and nutrient intakes, particularly in rural Arctic communities. For example, in a Baffin Inuit and two Dene/Metis communities evaluated in 1989 and 1991, bannock was the second or third most frequently consumed food of purchased ingredients, and was within the top 10 contributors to total dietary energy, fat, and calcium . Similar patterns were demonstrated for bannock reported in dietary evaluations of 16 Dene/Metis communities and 9 Yukon First Nations [2-4].
Now, although my interview was not an attempt to start a debate about bannock, for anyone who is interested in this topic, please feel free to add your comments and especially your recipes. I am not an expert on bannock, however, in some of our team building sessions, making bannock on a stick is one of the team challenges. I would love to hear from Inuit or other Native People’s who are the true experts on how bannock came to be consumed by their people.
Even if we disagree about the origin of bannock, one thing many of us can probably agree on is that bannock is delicious.