Searching for Progress on Food Security in the North American North: A Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis of the Peer-Reviewed Literature + Supplementary Appendix (See Article Tools)




Alaska Natives, Canada First Nations, climate change, development, food security, food sovereignty, governance, Indigenous peoples, social justice


Food security is a global societal challenge, and one geographic region where food insecurity is increasing is the North American Arctic and Subarctic. In this paper we synthesize research on food security in this region; important precursors and early work include reports on the impacts of land claims, the cumulative effects of industrial development and environmental change, and the health impacts of the nutrition transition among Indigenous peoples. Building on these foundations, food security research in the North has followed a path similar to that taken in the global food security literature, beginning with nutritional adequacy and security of food supplies and then downscaling to a focus on issues at the livelihood and household level. Our meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature reveals many reasons why people are food-insecure: challenges such as remoteness, climate change, and the high costs of food and fuel all play important roles. However, the primary drivers of food insecurity that we identify in this review relate to governance and policy challenges that have been recognized and critiqued for decades. Recommendations for future research include an improved focus on participatory research and food security interventions that acknowledge and focus on supporting the rights of local peoples to pursue food security on their own terms. This paper is relevant in the context of climatic and environmental change because it captures the role of shifting political ecologies as increased geopolitical interests in the North appear to be obscuring the rights and needs of local peoples to access and control their own land and resources.