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IPFS News Link • Food

Mongolia's obsession with pine nuts

• arclein
For me this was a novelty, but for Enkhbaatar it is daily life. He belongs to the Tsaatan, an ethnic minority who herd reindeer along Mongolia's northern fringes. They live in tents alongside their animals and are essentially self-sufficient. Hunting pine cones in the taiga is the Tsaatan version of loading up on snacks at the supermarket. Caught between tundra and desert, northern Mongolia's agricultural options are limited; a severe climate renders much of the land infertile and restricts grazing. So Tsaatan families move seasonally with their herds to find pasture. They eat the meat, milk and cheese the reindeer provide, but their diet, with its abundance of protein and fats, lacks the vitamins and minerals usually obtained from fruits and vegetables. This nomadic lifestyle ?" and its culinary limitations ?" is typical throughout Mongolia and remains largely unchanged since the days of Genghis Khan.