Challenges in assessing food environments in northern and remote communities in Canada

Kelly Skinner, Kristin Burnett, Patricia Williams, Debbie Martin, Christopher Stothart, Joseph LeBlanc, Gigi Veeraraghavan, Amanda Sheedy

Abstract


Effective tools for retail food environments in northern and remote communities are lacking. This paper examines the challenges of conducting food environment assessments in northern and remote communities in Canada encountered during our experience with a food costing project. One of the goals of the Paying for Nutrition in the North project is to develop guidelines to improve current food costing tools for northern Canada. Paying for Nutrition illustrates the complex context of measuring food environments in northern and remote communities. Through the development of a food costing methodology guide to assess northern food environments, several contextual issues emerged, including retail store oligopolies in communities; the importance of assessing food quality; informal social food economies; and the challenge of costing the acquisition and consumption of land- and water-based foods. Food environment measures designed for northern and remote communities need to reflect the geographic context in which they are being employed and must include input from local residents.

 


Keywords


First Nations; food supply; cost analysis; rural population

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.107.5324