Nutritional Science, Health, and Changing Northern Environments


This essay is drawn from a larger research project that examines the expansive, varied, and complex region of Northern Canada in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The research takes ill health and disease in this period as its point of departure, and asks how these were linked to changed relations between people and the rest of northern nature. Diet and food figure prominently in these relations: northerners harvested the land for food—not through agriculture, but rather by relying on hunting (large game animals, marine mammals, smaller furbearers, and a range of waterfowl), fishing, and consuming a wide range of plants and berries. The health of northern lands and waters, and the health of northern people were closely intertwined, with food acting as a key intersection of people’s bodies and the rest of nature.