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Community-based food initiatives


Compiled by Shari Narine








The Chronic Disease Prevention Through Local Food Procurement Initiatives is one focus of the Indigenous Health Research Group, a multidisciplinary team. The Initiatives is currently focusing on community-based food initiatives aimed at addressing chronic health issues among Indigenous populations. Initially begun with three communities located in northern Ontario, regions accessible only by plane or winter ice roads, the study has expanded to nine other Indigenous communities across Canada. Health and diet are a growing concern particularly among youth, due to increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Michael Robidoux, who is part of the Initiatives, says the team discovered there was no significant difference in health outcomes between people who consumed wild foods instead of store-bought food. In fact those who eat more traditional food were found to have higher than average amounts of mercury and PCBs in their systems. Regardless, both scientific and local knowledge affirm that locally harvested and prepared foods are of tremendous cultural, social and nutritional value. As a community-based initiative, this research is being translated into effective community generated programs encouraging healthy eating and maintaining traditional knowledge systems. Community initiated hunter-support programs, school breakfast programs and community gardens have been created in partnership with Robidoux and his team.