Why is there food insecurity with the availability of country foods, store bought foods and agriculture?
Country foods: A declining tradition
For thousands of years, First Nations peoples in Canada’s north successfully supported themselves with a wide variety of country food. However, due to forced relocations to unfamiliar areas, increasing populations and declining traditional skills among the young, this aspect of food security isn’t presently able to meet the demand for food. However, this is still a key part of the food security system in the North and needs to be supported.
Store bought food: Staggering transportation costs
This requires large quantities of processed foods to be shipped many thousands of kilometers from production areas in the south. This significantly increases the cost of the food to the point that many northerners must spend very disproportional amounts of money on food to support themselves. The Nutrition North program has sought to alleviate this through subsidies, but there have been questions about its ability to pass along savings to community members. For better or for worse, processed foods are a part of present-day northerner’s diets and must continue to be considered as one of the key parts of northern food security.
Agriculture is not a traditional part of culture of most northern communities and is considered to be a very ‘southern’ concept. In recent years, there have been various attempts to introduce different types of agriculture to the north with mixed results; The Yukon presently has a thriving agricultural sector that is well-supported by the Yukon Government, there is an emerging agricultural sector in the Northwest Territories led by organizations such as PolarEgg and Choice North Farms but there have been no sustained attempts at agriculture in Nunavut. There are ‘early-adopters’ and various public and private organizations who are well-positioned to use some of the recent developments in agricultural technologies and methods for the benefit of their communities. However, any new technology must be able to meet the unique challenges of farming in the North.