Science continues to be astonished that traditional foodways are actually good for the people who evolved them. This time — hard on the heels of the episode on putrid meat as a source of vitamin C — it is the Navajo people and calcium.
NPR’s The Salt reports that Navajo people, like most North American Indians, are lactose intolerant. That means that milk is of no use to them as a source of calcium. But they do like a bit of juniper ash sprinkled in the corn mush. And a gram of that ash contains about as much calcium as a glass of milk. Furthermore, the calcium in juniper ash is claimed to be more bio-available than the calcium in milk.
What we aren’t told is whether juniper has more calcium in its ash than other local plants.