March 10, 2023 1:14 pm
Billie Jane Hermosura,Carla D'Andreamatteo
The Evolution of Food Literacy: From Functional to Critical Conversations
Names, Organizational Affiliations, and Locations of all Authors
Dairy Farmers of Canada, Edmonton AB
(Master of Education in Health Science Education student at the University of Alberta)
Many food literacy definitions and frameworks have been developed to capture the multi-faceted and complex nature of what it means to be “food literate.” However, a consensus on the definition of food literacy has not been reached, impacting the generalizability of food literacy research among different populations.
We know that food literacy:
• can grow and develop continuously through an individual’s lifetime; it is not a binary concept.
• is unique from one individual to the next. Many intrinsic and extrinsic factors impact an individual’s progression of growing
their food literacy.
• is impacted by social and cultural factors outside of any one person’s control.
Objective(s)/Process or Summary of Content
The Alberta Nutrition Team of Registered Dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada recognized the lack of a meaningful and target audience-specific definition of food literacy for their nutrition programming.
Method(s)/Systemic Approach Used
From 2017-2022, the Alberta Nutrition Team worked with external stakeholders (i.e. RDs, educators, teachers, and students) using a variety of surveys and groups/interviews to develop and refine a new food literacy definition and framework.
A new food literacy definition and framework was developed:
Food literacy is learning about and engaging with the many roles of food for ourselves, others, and our world. Four pathways enable us to explore
and develop our understanding and skills within food literacy.
1. Food systems: How food grows, how it is produced, and how it is made available.
2. Food skills: How to identify, plan, get, store, prepare, and eat food.
3. Food context: How the foods we eat reflect our needs and resources.
4. Food story: The relationship between food, culture, and identity.
We recommend that there are several steps taken to validate this framework, particularly in a practical sense for practice. This includes:
• Complete a literature review on the benefits of each of the four pathways (food systems, food skills, food context, and food story).
• Test the food literacy definition with a broader audience (Kindergarten-Grade 12 teachers).
• Apply the theoretical framework to program planning and evaluation.
• Consider a staged breakdown of each food literacy pathway for additional guidance for educators to specify developmentally appropriate
education and skill development.
• Continue to integrate a critical food literacy lens into work being done within the food literacy framework.
Significance to Dietetics
Food literacy has been increasingly emphasized as a critical factor in addressing public health issues, such as chronic disease conditions in the past decade. Since there is no universal framework or definition of food literacy, our work meaningfully contributes to the food literacy discourse and adds a critical lens to what food literacy entails. Rather than focusing on food literacy as an individual responsibility, our work demonstrates the importance of acknowledging broader factors that impact an individuals food literacy.
Support for this project was provided by the Dairy Farmers of Canada
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