Food systems and health equity in an era of globalization: Think, Eat and Grow Green Globally (TEG3)

Global health
Posted August 22, 2011

Principal Investigator

Speigel, J (UBC Global Health Research Program)


Takaro, T; Breilh, J; Black, J; Carten, S; Chan, L; Chapman, G; Cortinois, A; Freire, W; Merino, R; Nichol, A M; Otero, G; Parkes, M; Rojas, A; Wittman, H; Yassi, A






Food security is a key determinant of health equity in addition to being a vitally important issue in its own right. The global food system, encompassing how food is produced, distributed marketed, consumed and disposed of, affects health through multiple direct and indirect pathways - extending beyond nutritional intake to areas such as culture, working conditions and environmental change.

The goal of this project in both Canada and Ecuador is to address food-health issues that have been largely neglected. We intend to develop, test and bring forward new understandings as well as recommendations for actions, policies and legal structures. In addition, we will outline further research agendas, provide analytical methods and develop knowledge exchange tools and techniques that strengthen capacities to address health equity challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly globalized food system. We build on the framework for analyzing food systems used by some of our Canadian team members (Affordability; Availability; Accessibility; nutritional, cultural and moral Appropriateness; Safety; and Sustainability) to emphasize the reciprocity of human and ecological health in which “food system sustainability” plays a critical role, through hunger, obesity, access to sustainable food sources, and vulnerability to ecological crises. Ecuadorian team members have emphasized four S‟s (in Spanish) to note that Security includes Sovereignty, Solidarity, Sustainability and Salud (Health), complementing the “A‟s”. In essence, our program investigates what interventions can better enable food sovereignty to be asserted so that food security and other related pathways to health equity can be effectively realized.