Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Supplement 1, pp eS60–eS63 | Cite as

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

  • Kelly SkinnerEmail author
  • Kristin Burnett
  • Patricia Williams
  • Debbie Martin
  • Christopher Stothart
  • Joseph LeBlanc
  • Gigi Veeraraghavan
  • Amanda Sheedy


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.

Key words

First Nations food supply cost analysis rural population 


On manque d’outils efficaces pour analyser les environnements alimentaires au détail dans les communautés nordiques et éloignées. Nous examinons les difficultés de mener des évaluations de l’environnement alimentaire dans ce type de communautés au Canada d’après notre expérience dans le cadre d’un projet de calcul des coûts des aliments. L’un des objectifs du projet Paying for Nutrition in the North est d’élaborer des lignes directrices afin d’améliorer les outils actuels de calcul des coûts des aliments dans le Nord du Canada. Paying for Nutrition illustre la complexité du contexte de mesure des environnements alimentaires dans les communautés nordiques et éloignées. Durant l’élaboration d’un guide méthodologique de calcul des coûts des aliments pour évaluer les environnements alimentaires nordiques, plusieurs problèmes contextuels se sont posés, dont la présence d’oligopoles de magasins de vente au détail dans ces communautés; l’importance d’évaluer la qualité des aliments; les économies sociales informelles de l’alimentation; et la difficulté de calculer les coûts d’acquisition et de consommation d’aliments de la terre et des cours d’eau. Les indicateurs de l’environnement alimentaire conçus pour les communautés nordiques et éloignées doivent refléter le contexte géographique où ils sont employés et doivent inclure la participation des résidents.

Mots Clés

Premières Nations approvisionnement en nourriture analyse des coûts population rurale 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly Skinner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristin Burnett
    • 2
  • Patricia Williams
    • 3
  • Debbie Martin
    • 4
  • Christopher Stothart
    • 5
  • Joseph LeBlanc
    • 6
  • Gigi Veeraraghavan
    • 7
  • Amanda Sheedy
    • 8
  1. 1.School of Public Health and Health SystemsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of Indigenous LearningLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  3. 3.Department of Applied Human NutritionMount Saint Vincent UniversityHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.School of Health and Human PerformanceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  5. 5.Centre for Population Health SciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  6. 6.Social Planning Council of SudburySudburyCanada
  7. 7.Peetabeck Health ServicesFort AlbanyCanada
  8. 8.Food Secure CanadaMontrealCanada

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