Getting back to our grass roots with stories from Manitoba, Canada at ICD 2012 – by guest expert Ivana Goluza APDExpert Examiner — By Emma Stirling on September 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm
Earlier this month the world’s dietitians gathered in Sydney to share, learn and network to what was essentially “The Olympics of Dietetics” held every four years in locations throughout the world. During the four days, the congress was a-buzz from ground breaking gene nutrition therapy, to new techniques for research and novel ways of measuring body composition. You can read two of our archived posts on new research on the Mediterranean Diet and Legumes here, but today our September Sub of the Month wanted to share her highlight.
Ivana Goluza APD has recently completed a Master of Science (Nutrition and Dietetics) and has started her career as a clinical dietitian at Wollongong Hospital. She is passionate about effective, credible nutrition communication and has started her own online journey through The Nutrition Panel, jump across and like the Facebook page, and catch up with her full bio here.
Something that struck a cord for me at the International Congress of Dietetics was a food security session presented by Prof Paul Fieldhouse from Canada. He gave a very raw account of reality in the communities with which he works and how they have tackled complex nutrition and food security issues… with a garden bed.
That’s right, in this most remote area of Canada named Northern Manitoba, the Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to lifestyle diseases because of lack of infrastructure for food processing, food production and even safe drinking water can be an issue. They are further marginalised because of high prices of food and lack of choice and variety.
Getting foods into these regions costs a lot of money and as fresh food doesn’t travel well, food spoilage is high. This is because of their “winter roads”. Have you ever seen the Tv show ice road truckers? It portrays the most dangerous truck routes in the world. Paths are made by frozen lakes and there is a 6-8 week window of opportunity for all the supplies to reach these communities. Sometimes they don’t make it. The opening of the road season is of course eagerly anticipated.
I caught up with Prof Paul Fieldhouse to gain a better understanding of how they are tackling these issues. “We have a few different approaches in ensuring future food security in Northern Manitoba. We hope to make mainstream market food more accessible, affordable and healthier. Restoring traditional food preferences in the younger generations by focusing on hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering and developing local food production to be more self sufficient” he said.
In this post I want to show you a hand-full of ways these communities are achieving just that!
..And This Is My Garden
“The success of the Mel Johnson School Gardening Project has been recognized by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Manitoba Conservation.”
Have a look at this award winning documentary based on one of the gardening projects.
Gardening has been established in schools for teaching and building skills for starting and raising plants for gardens. They are also doubled up as nutrition projects in order to provide culturally appropriate nutrition, harvesting and cooking education. The produce from the garden is enjoyed by all-just like in this harvest seen below.
Sustainable Food: Back to traditional foods
Some other program components include using greenhouses, food preservation which includes a revolving loan freezer purchase program, cold cellars, drying and food preservation workshops. Employing locals to hunt, fish and gather is a beneficial program in which the locals get paid to bring these traditional foods. These are distributed for free among community members. It is important to harvest, share and consume these indigenous foods and below are some examples of the most popular traditional foods in the Manitoba area.
By re-introducing traditional and locally grown foods to children and getting them involved in every step of the process, it is the community’s hope that food habits and preferences will be embedded into generations to come. The heavy influence of mainstream commercial food culture is still an issue here (and one they’re working on), but is it not everywhere? On the left is a Gardeners creed that school children sign. I think it is a great reminder of the importance of producing healthy foods.
Thanks Ivana it’s been fantastic having you on board during September. What fabulous messages for us all in this project and post – no matter what neck of the woods we come from. For more information you can read this paper by Professor Fieldhouse: Tackling food security issues in indigenous communities in Canada: The Manitoba experience. Aren’t they important reminders that approaches to good health with Indigenous populations must embrace traditional food practices and cultural heritage. As you and I discussed, it’s important to teach all children how vegetables and our food supply grows and there’s no better life lesson than hands on, dirt under the finger nails, learning. What do you think lovely readers?