The need for contextual, place-based food policies: Lessons from Northwestern Ontario


  • Connie Nelson Lakehead University
  • Charles Z. Levkoe Lakehead University
  • Rachel Kakegamic Lakehead University



complexity, food systems, northwestern Ontario, place, policy


In recent years, several reports have highlighted the need for a national food policy that takes a comprehensive approach to addressing food systems (CAC, 2014; Levkoe & Sheedy, 2017; Martorell, 2017; UNGA, 2012). These findings suggest that, at the core, resilient food systems must be built on interconnected knowledge and experience that emerge from place-based interrelationships between human and ecological systems. Drawing on these important learnings, this commentary voices our hopes and concerns around the recent efforts of the Canadian Government to develop a food policy for Canada. While we commend the Government’s desire to “set a long-term vision for the health, environmental, social, and economic goals related to food, while identifying actions we can take in the short-term”, we caution any tendency to develop “best practices” that assume a universal, or “one-size fits all” approach to food policy development. We argue that Canada requires a set of contextual, place-based food policies that emerge from the grassroots, address local needs and desires, and build on the strengths and assets of communities.

Author Biographies

Connie Nelson, Lakehead University

Director of Food Security Research Network, Professor Emeritus, School of Social Work

Charles Z. Levkoe, Lakehead University

Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University

Rachel Kakegamic, Lakehead University

School of Social Work




How to Cite

Nelson, C., Levkoe, C. Z., & Kakegamic, R. (2018). The need for contextual, place-based food policies: Lessons from Northwestern Ontario. Canadian Food Studies La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 5(3), 266–272.