We Are What We Eat: Greenland | Nat Geo Live


( intro music ) I decided after much
research to go to Greenland. And I went to the eastern
part of Greenland which is less inhabited. The western part is
quite inhabited. Also I was going in December,
so if I would go too far north there wouldn’t be any
light whatsoever. I wanted some light, it’s
useful when you take pictures.And so, I went to this
place called Isortoq.
There’s about 110,000 Inuits.There’s about 16,000
Iso living in the US.
And they eat only
meat, traditionally.
And by far has made the
transition to market food. But if I would have wanted to
really see a true Inuit diet I would have needed to go
there 60, 50-60 years ago. It’s not the case,
but they still, you know, go on with a
lot of traditional food and do eat that a lot. So, that’s what I
would be focusing on.This is Isortoq.That’s the whole of it.
And it took me two flight
and two helicopter
ride to get there.
It’s very surreal atmosphere,
I’ve never been to the Arctic.
Never been up there.Lots of dog howling and very
nostalgic feel about the place.
I had contacted a
family before. So when I arrived I was
met by this family.And I spent ten dayssleeping there
in the living room.
I was staying with Bent,
he’s there in green
and Dina, standing up.And they are hunters.They go hunting
a few times a week.
They are active hunters still.Every day they would put these
pile of clothes on the floor
and they just start to put
one layer after the other,
after the other, after the
other and boom we go out.
So we go out, we
break the thin ice
that have pile up in
the night by boat.
We drive out and they
are looking for–
what they like most is seal.And they, you know,
hunt with rifles.
They used to hunt
with harpoons.
That was about
30-40-50 years ago.
So she’s looking at
this environment,
looking for little
black spot to pop up.
By then when
I took that picture
I wasn’t sure what
we were looking for
because for four days we went
and we didn’t get anything.
It was quite depressing.And then that daywe only got this ptarmigan,
they are called, these birds.
Quite common there
in the Arctic.
Then I see what she is
doing in the kitchen.
She, you know, gut the birds,
prepare them and stuff
and I am taking pictures
and I am thinking,
“this is not super
interesting, it doesn’t– it doesn’t call
out for Arctic, it’s just not
working right now.” You know, it’s the
beginning of the story so I am impatient to try and
get something done here, visually, that is telling. So I said, I asked
Dina, cooking, I said “do you have anything like
more Arctic, like whale?” And she’s like, “yeah, I
got plenty of whale meat.” So, she popped out this
beautiful bag of…You know, I am like,
“no, not working.”
( audience laughter ) Ah, yeah… Well, I put that, it’s
not a good picture but it’s just to show you the
struggle as a photographer that you encounter some time. You fly there, you have
these ideas of, you know, they are going to
be with harpoon throwing at whales and stuff, and when you get
there it’s just plastic bag coming
out of the freezer. – It doesn’t work.
– ( audience laughter ) So then I turned
to Bent and I said, “Dude, it’s not working, I
am not getting anything, you know, I need
to look at meat and know which animals
it comes from.” He’s like, “yeah, well, there’s this place on the
edge of town… Town, you know, the
settlement, the village, where we keep a lot
of meat that we… you know, that we you
know, we go and get. when we want more meat for us
or for animals, for the dogs.” I say, “yeah.”We arrive at
this wooden box,
he takes out the
stones and lifts it
and there’s this
really pungent smell
of fat, and
ocean and animal,
you know, that comes out of it.And I am really
excited, like “wow.”
And then he starts to
take out the stuff.
He sorts out what he’s
going to give to his dogs.
He sorts out and,
you know, I look
at this and I’m
like, “wow”.
This is killer whale jaw,
you know, whale rib,
bearded seal paw,
these are all animals
that they have hunted
during the migration
when whales come
by their village.
And for me it’s telling.
Finally I got something.We return back,he’s going to give
a good portion to the dogs
because the dogs help
the Inuits hunting
and they always split
the result of the hunt.
And, you know, stores
most of it in the storage
gives some to the dogsand goes and brings it
to Dina for cooking.
And look at it when we return
with meat to the village.
( dogs barking ) You know, the
dogs are super excited they know meal is coming.And so, you know, you
walk around and you have
this puppy licking the fat off
the fin of a killer whale.
Quite surreal in the night.But then I still needed to
get some hunting scene. You know something that
is telling what you see. And then I hear about
this other hunter.Magnus, who would
often go hunting on canoe
because you can approach
animals much more quietly.
And I said, “hey, bring me on.” And it was quite a
terrifying experience. I do a lot of kayaking,
I love kayaking. But not in, you know,
freezing cold water with… thousands of dollars
of equipment hanging around my neck, so…Matthieu : Ah, yes,
I saw something here.
I think a little black spot.Yeah, yeah, Magnus…Magnus, here.That means head of a seal. – Sign language.
– ( audience laughter )And so, that’s right
there, you see?
That’s the head
of a seal,
it comes out for about
10-20 seconds
and then it would
just dive back in.
So, you have to be quick,
you have to be close. Also you need quiet sea because if there’s waves
you can’t see the head and so I am just
following behind. And, you know, that day
we didn’t get anything. The next day after we
didn’t get anything. I went back on the… on the boat with Bent and
Dina and then finally one daythey got a seal.And I had thought about
that situation as
“wow, this is just gory and
it’s going to be difficult.”
In fact, it is
difficult because
in the Inuit eating
means blood. There’s going to be
spilling of blood. This is meat-only
diet traditionally. The only thing you can maybe
eat are berries in summer that is non-meat,
berries and a bit of seaweed, but otherwise you survive
on meat, that’s all. And so it means, you’re the hunter,
but you’re the butcher.Everybody, all the hunters they
know how to butcher their meat.
That’s how you survive,
traditionally in the Arctic.
That’s how they have
been doing that
and surviving for
thousands of years.
One delicacy that they all loveis the liver of the seal.And this is son of Bent
having a piece of fresh liver
of the seal that his
father brought back.
I tasted, it’s very
tasty like iron.
It tastes like very strong.For holidays and birthdaysthen they really put an
effort in
eating almost
only traditional.
These are stuffed
intestines and,
you know, smoked seal meat.Muktuk it is called,
it’s the blubber of the whale.
There’s some salmon alsoyou can see that they fish
in summer and dry it.
They also eat musk-ox.And this is a bit of a
shocking image to many
but the kid doesn’t
seem troubled at all.
( audience laughter )I was like, “whoa,
what is that alien?”
It’s the head of a polar bear,
that his father hunted.
It’s legal to hunt polar bear
to a certain amount. I think it’s about
30 polar bear that can be killed
every year. Under very strict
situation, only by Inuits. And it’s a very important
traditional food. What’s interesting with
polar bear is that the person who first
see the animal will be the person
that gets all the meat. Not the guy who will kill it. Bit of a feel good image
after that. You can all relax. ( audience laughter )And just imagine not knowingnot long ago for this Inuits,
not knowing what it was.
It must have been
just a ground for
just tons of religious,
spiritual experiences.

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