Faculty members of Food Advocacy Research at Memorial (FARM) and their food-related research interests:
Lynne Phillips (Anthropology)
My research on food started with a course I was teaching at the University of Windsor several years ago. The students were interested in developing a “food charter” for the city (and not just do the course assignment on this theme). So we created FAWG, the Food Advocacy Working Group. My research in Windsor and Essex County focused on the barriers faced by food activists; local definitions of “good food”; and the historical links of the automobile industry with changing foodways in this region. Now that I am in Newfoundland and Labrador I am interested in pursuing similar research questions: what do Newfoundlanders think is good food? How does the history of the island and its modes of transportation contribute to our understanding of the current food system? And what are the challenges for food activists here who are interested in change?
Sean Cadigan (History)
I am interested in the historical relationships between fishing, farming and forestry in the political economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. My research has focused on how these relationships emerged in the context of European settlement in communities dominated by cold-ocean coastal ecologies. My early work focused on the manner in which environmental constraints limited the commercial agricultural capacity of settlement on the island of Newfoundland, ensuring that the population would always depend on imported food for the bulk of its subsistence requirements (see for example Cadigan, "The Staple Model Reconsidered: The Case of Agricultural Policy in North¬east-Coast Newfoundland, 1785 to 1855,” Acadiensis, XXI, 2 (Spring 1992), 48-71). My research has also focused on the manner in which smaller-scale household farming nevertheless played a vital role in sustaining coastal communities, supplementing a variety of other food-gathering activities, and effectively subsidizing the costs of the household fishery (for example, Cadigan, “The role of agriculture in outport self-sufficiency, ” in R.E. Ommer, ed., The Resilient Outport, St. John’s: Institute for Social and Economic Research, 2001: 241-62). My interest in future research on food production lies in the area of the political economy of land developments that compete with agricultural usage, and the relationship between provincial and federal transportation and trade policies and the security of local food supplies.
Charles Mather (Geography)
My work has focused on high value food (HVF) exports mainly from the developing world. I am interested in questions of regulation, certification, quality, power as well as issues relating to labour and livelihoods. I have used the global value chain framework in much of my work. My current research is on northern shrimp in NL funded through a three year SSHRC Insight Grant. The questions are largely the same, even though I am now looking a fish commodity from the developed world. I have on MA student working on this topic, and hope to recruit three additional MAs over the next three years.
Maura Hanrahan (Community Health)
My current food-related research, in partnership with Dr. Atanu Sarkar of Community Health, concerns water access and quality in the Southern Inuit community of Black Tickle, Labrador. Funded by the RBC/Harris Centre Water Fund and the Labrador Institute, we recently trained community members to sample unmonitored community wells and we conducted focus groups and interviews with youth, elders, women, other community members and the Local Service District, with whom we will identify and work toward solutions. In common with 60 other Northern Indigenous communities in Canada, Black Tickle lacks running water and a sewage system; as we analyze our results we expect to find that this impacts negatively on household finances, food security, health, and relationships.
Sharon Roseman (Anthropology)
I have conducted research since the late 1980s on the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food and drink. A major focus has been on the maintenance of subsistence farming and animal husbandry in Galicia (northwestern Spain) in the face of extensive temporary and permanent out-migration, and pressures toward suburbanization and urbanization. I have recently begun a project in Newfoundland and Labrador, and have also supervised students who have conducted research on food in the province and elsewhere.
Rebecca Schiff (Labrador Institute)
Rebecca has a long history research and advocacy for sustainable, health food systems. For several years, Rebecca has been an active member on the steering committee of Food Secure Canada/ Sécurité alimentaire Canada (FSC/SAC) and the Executive Committee of Canadian Association for Food Studies. She has helped organise several regional and national conferences on food issues, liaised with provincial food security organisations, and helped to facilitate the national People’s Food Policy Project. In 2011 and 2012 Rebecca worked to facilitate a civil society submission on Canadian food issues at the request of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. She has a deep understanding of the value of collaborative, cross-sectoral partnerships for food systems solutions, community-university alliances, and the Canadian good food movement. Rebecca is currently based at the Labrador Institute in Happy Valley - Goose Bay where she conducts research, teaches, and supervises students research of food issues. She works closely with the regional food network in Happy Valley – Goose Bay: the Central Labrador Community Food Hub. Rebecca also works with Aboriginal communities in Labrador on a variety of other social, economic, cultural and environmental issues of concern.
Diana Tye (Folklore)
My work examines aspects of Atlantic Canadian foodways. I am interested in food’s culturally constructed meanings as they intersect with both biography and place. Baking as Biography (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2010) explored my mother’s recipe collection as a form of everyday biography while shorter works have considered meanings of regionally “iconic” foods (bread, molasses, lobster, boloney). I am beginning work on a food biography of St. John’s. Although I do not teach a course devoted to foodways, I include sections on foodways in most of the courses I instruct (from Folklore 1000: “Introduction to Folklore” to graduate courses on folklore and gender or folklore and ethnicity).
Emily Doyle (Division of Community Health and Humanities)
The goal of the research which I am currently undertaking is to discover how school food system practices in the Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) public school system can act as a “place-based” health promotion tool to enhance the sustainability (and therefore the healthfulness) of the school environment. My research began in January 2013 with a case study of a school greenhouse program in NL. Two other research projects that I have worked on in coordination with others have helped me to develop a broad understanding of the NL food environment. Firstly, an environmental scan of socio-economic conditions and suitable growing technologies that would inform a food production strategy adapted to NL. Secondly, I worked as a research assistant for FARM to compile an annotated bibliography of the current state of food research in NL.
Paul Foley (Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell Campus)
My interest in food research stems primarily from my research on the development and application of eco-labels, certifications, and traceability programs in fisheries and seafood sectors. My research in this area has been published as journal articles in the Journal of Agrarian Change, New Political Economy, Environment and Planning A, and Ecology and Society. My work on the sustainable seafood movement continues and I am interested in comparing trends in the seafood sector to other food and agriculture sectors. I have also collaborated with researchers at Memorial University to study the relationship between fisheries policy and community development in rural coastal regions with a focus on the northern shrimp fishery.
Martha Traverso-Yepez (Community Health)
I have an academic, but also a personal interest, on food and its relation to health and well-being. Since arriving to live in NL, I realized that I have allergies to sulphites and other preservatives used in processed and long-travelled foods. Academically, I teach health promotion and as quality food is one of the most important determinants of health, current food systems have a relevant place in my teaching and especially in graduate students’ supervision. I am currently supervising or co-supervising four graduate students with research topics on ways to promote healthy food environments in NL. Also together with Drs. Atanu Sarkar and Veeresh Gadag, we are co-investigators in a research project funded by the Harris Centre exploring food security and food practices among the elderly population, and single parents in St. John’s.
Catherine L. Mah (Community Health)
I study the policy and practice of public health, with a particular interest in public health innovations in the food system. Good food policy is healthy public policy. My research has examined food and nutrition policy issues in Canada (Toronto/Ontario, Newfoundland) and Japan. With collaborators I am also looking at income security, a central piece of the policy puzzle to address household food insecurity in Canada. A major current focus is my work on city-region food system planning. This includes action-research to design and test ways to improve access to healthy and sustainable foods in food retail environments. I love working on food policy because it always requires drawing on insights from multiple disciplines and sectors. Establishing opportunities for deliberation about food among communities, researchers, businesses, governments, and health practitioners is one of the most important things I do as an academic.
Toby Rowe (Sustainability Coordinator, Memorial University)
The Sustainability Office, a unit of Facilities Management, works with students, staff and faculty university-wide to initiate and implement sustainability initiatives. Current food-related work includes administration of the Memorial University Community Garden, membership on the University Food Committee, and investigation of potential composting projects for the St. John’s campus.