Conceptualizing food security for Aboriginal people in Canada
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Food insecurity is an urgent public health issue for Aboriginal people in Canada because of high rates of poverty; the effects of global climate change and environmental pollution on traditional food systems; and high rates of diet-related diseases. However, to date, public health has operated with conceptualizations of food security that were developed in non-Aboriginal contexts; they do not take full account of the traditional food practices of Aboriginal people or Aboriginal conceptualizations of food security. In this paper, I argue that there are unique food security considerations for Aboriginal people related to the harvesting, sharing and consumption of country or traditional foods, which impact the four pillars of food security: access, availability, supply and utilization. Thus food security conceptualizations, policies, and programs for Aboriginal people must consider both the market food system and traditional food system. Given the centrality of traditional food practices to cultural health and survival, I propose that cultural food security is an additional level of food security beyond individual, household and community levels. Conceptualizations of food security for Aboriginal people will be incomplete without qualitative research to understand Aboriginal perspectives; such research must take account of the diversity of Aboriginal people.