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Joyce Slater

Joyce Slater 130x180I have always been fascinated by food and cooking, so enrolling in home economics at the University of Saskatchewan after high school in the early 1980s seemed a natural fit. In the early 1990s I then pursued a master’s degree at the University of Manitoba which has led to more than twenty years in public health nutrition. I also became a registered dietitian.

At first I was fortunate to work in northern Ontario where I encountered the disparities experienced by First Nations Canadians and the resulting food insecurity. After three and a half years I moved on to Winnipeg where I continued working with communities on various public health nutrition issues, and eventually moved into a management role. I grew increasingly dissatisfied with the public health response to the burgeoning obesity issue, which focused on individual lifestyles and personal responsibility, so I returned to complete a doctorate where I could explore more fundamentally the social and environmental determinants of obesity.

My quest led me to a fuller understanding of community food security issues, and the importance of understanding nutrition in an ecological context. It also took me full circle back to food and cooking, and I feel the development of ‘food literacy’ is an important prerequisite for health and food security, regardless of one’s gender or culture.

I believe public health nutrition affects everyone – without it, safe and fair food regulations disappear, disparities in nutrition-related risk factors and illnesses expand, and people forget how fundamental food is to our very existence. In today’s incredibly complex foodscape, public health nutrition is essential.