Understanding traditional food behaviour and food security in rural First Nation communities: Implications for food policy
Mirella L Stroink, Lakehead University Connie H Nelson, Lakehead University
The health and sustainability of rural and remote communities is undermined by the international market-based food system. In the reality of these communities the cost of store-bought food is high, the nutritional quality low, and the availability tenuous. Furthermore, homogenization of the market-based food system undermines the diversity and ecological relevance of residents’ food knowledge, and thus their resilience and capacity to innovate. Development of a local food system that emerges organically from the unique human and ecological setting encourages the utilization of both locally sourced and market-based food that may strengthen the autonomy and economic vitality of these communities. We will present findings from three research projects with First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. The aim of this research was to understand local and market-based food behaviour from the perspective of community members. Relationships were examined among food behaviour, food knowledge, food values, perceived food security, cultural connection, and well-being. In one study we also explored the effects of perceived land contamination on these variables. The findings from the research suggest policies in natural resource management, agriculture, and other areas that will support the emergence of a local food system that incorporates forest, cultivated, and store-bought foods and may strengthen the health and sustainability of rural and remote communities.
Keywords: market-based food system, local food system, sustainability, First Nation communities, food security, holistic health