High food prices are fueling a food insecurity crisis in the North.
The Canadian North presently suffers from a lack of accessibility to high quality food and the non-traditional food that is available must be shipped from the south at great expense to northern retailers and residents. The Canadian federal government has been mitigating this problem through the establishment of a program that heavily subsidizes the transportation costs of certain food items. This program presently transports 14 million kg of food to 140 isolated northern communities (90,000 people) in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Labrador and the northern reaches of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. However, there is only marginal evidence that food costs have fallen for northern residents and this program is costing the Canadian taxpayer nearly $60 million per year.
An alternative solution is to establish agricultural facilities in the North with the construction of greenhouses. Although there are presently greenhouses in operation in a few northern communities, they are not economically sustainable and require substantial government funding to operate on a seasonal basis. A key problem is the commercialization of agricultural facilities that will not only be profitable for investors, but able to meet the needs of small, northern communities.
The following external links outline the food security crisis in the North:
- Speaking out against $600-a-week grocery bills
- Feeding My Family
- Rising food prices in North spark protest
- Insane Food Prices In Northern Canada
- Who, What, Why: Why does a cabbage cost $28 in Canada?
- Food Prices Canada: 2013 To See Big Jump After U.S. Drought, Study Says
The technology and concepts exist to reduce the hardship of living and working in the North. It’s time to integrate these systems to provide a viable alternative for stakeholders in the North.