An Evaluation of Household Country Food Use in Makkovik, Labrador, July 1980-June 1981


  • M.G. Alton Mackey
  • R.D. Orr



Economic conditions, Food, Income, Inuit, Subsistence, Makkovik, Labrador


Country food and wild food are the terms used by the people of the Labrador coast to describe the game fish and plants they obtain themselves. Country food continues to be important to the economic, physical and social well-being of the families in the communities on the Labrador coast. This study was designed to investigate the supply of country food to Makkovik, Labrador, population 333, during one food cycle from 2 July 1980 to 31 June 1981. This paper outlines the quantities of species harvested, the variations in household use and the apparent per capital consumption patterns. During the study year from July 1980 Makkovik households harvested a total of 28,397 kg of country mammals, fish and birds and 832 kg of berries from their environment. Caribou rangifer tarandus, Linnaeus, contributed the largest quantity of country food, 10,960 kg. Fish harvests amounted to 8574 kg and wildfowl harvests provided 5334 kg. The quantity of seals recorded during the study year was 3170 kg. This amount appears to be an underestimate of the expected level of harvest by the community. Other marine and land mammals did not contribute greatly to the local economy during the study year. Forty-three percent of participating households harvested 455 kg or more during the study year. These households represented 54% of the population and provided two-thirds of the total quantity of country food harvest. The community harvest of caribou, seals, birds and fish is not evenly distributed among households. Thirty-two percent of households had little or no access to caribou and 13% reported no seals. Fish and birds were more evenly distributed. People resident in 30 of the 61 households, representing 44% of the population, reported a per capita volume of country meat, fish and birds close to or above the national average per capita consumption for all meat, fish and poultry. Four households with 6% of the population harvested less than 25 kg per person and two households harvested more than 250 per capita.

Key words: country food harvest, indigenous foods, northern economy, Labrador