Project 2b

The Boom and Bust of Food Security

Project Update for July 2011 - "The impact of economic factors on harvesting of caribou and other country foods in Northern Canada"

Project Update - Summary of project

Summary 2011

Research Team
Dr. Brenda Parlee, Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta. 
Angie Chiu (MSc Candidate) and project researcher, Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta
Dr. Ellen Goddard. Department of Rural Economy  University of Alberta

For more details contact Brenda Parlee (email:

Project Description

This research project will investigate to what extent the economic benefits of industrial development are increasing food security in northern communities.  In the Canadian north, food security, (i.e. having sufficient quality, quantity and culturally appropriate sources of food) is contingent upon access to traditional foods as well as store bought foods.  Pilot data from Paulatuk and Lutsel K'e suggests that as employment and income from resource development increases, individuals are more likely to decrease the amount of traditional food consumed as well as increase the amount of food purchased from major centers and/or food mail.  Such patterns have economic implications for local stores as well as food security/health implications for northern residents.  This study hopes to address these hypotheses by examining and comparing three variables at the community and household level:
i)   quantities of store bought food purchased locally / consumed;
ii)  quantities of store bought food purchased elsewhere/consumed; 
iii) quantities of traditional food harvested/consumed. 

The project is a desktop study based on two sets of interrelated data.  A collaborative research relationship with the Arctic Cooperatives Ltd. and the Government of Canada (food mail program) is being sought by Parlee / Goddard to determine changes in food purchases between 1999 and 2008.

A second phase of the study will be comparative of food purchases made in communities affected by industrial development (Inuvik and Tuktoyatuk) and in those communities relatively isolated from both oil & gas and mining activity (Cambridge Bay / Taloyaoak) Individual and household food purchase data gathered for the Healthy Stores project (Sharma) in 2006-2008 will be the basis for this comparative analysis.  Considering age, gender ethnicity and employment / income status, the study hopes to determine how resource development influences food security. 

Terms and conditions for accessing, analyzing and reporting will be developed with the four communities, institutions and investigators who currently hold food purchase and dietary pattern data.

The data will also be utilized in the student researcher's thesis, and will also be employed in articles for submission to relevant refereed journals. Articles will be co-authored with community partners.

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