Malnutrition is a serious public health concern in Inuit and northern regions of Canada, driven by a complex array of social and ecological determinants, including poverty, food insecurity, and climate change. In northern communities, country foods (wild foods harvested from the lands and waters) often comprise an integral component of food systems and contribute to food security, nutrition, and social and cultural integrity. Yet, many country foods are also high in environmental contaminants (e.g., mercury and persistent organic pollutants), which have negative implications for health. Meanwhile, due to transportation challenges, available retail foods in northern and Inuit communities tend to be pre-packaged, processed, and expensive.
In this research program, I will use existing health survey data to evaluate dietary patterns in Nunavik (northern Quebec) and associated nutritional benefits and health risks. Through interviews and community workshops, I will also identify political, social, geographical, and environmental factors that impact food access, affordability, and desirability. Findings will be shared with decision-makers to generate evidence for sustainable and healthy food systems in northern regions across Canada.