Prevalence of food insecurity in a Greenlandic community and the importance of social, economic and environmental stressors

Goldhar, C., J.D. Ford and L. Berrang-Ford (2010). International Journal of Circumpolar Health 69(3):285-303. Download PDF.

Objectives. Characterize and examine the prevalence of food insecurity in Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland, and identify stressors affecting the food system.

Study design. A mixed-methods study using quantitative food security surveys and semi-structured interviews.

Methods. Food security surveys (n=61) were conducted with a random sample of 6% of Qeqertarsuaq’s population. Semi-structured interviews (n=75) allowed participants to describe in their own words their experience of food insecurity and permitted in-depth examination of determinants. Key informant interviews were used to provide context to local perspectives.

Results. Prevalence of food insecurity (8%) is low. However, interviews reveal a more nuanced picture, with women, adults aged 55+, and non-hunters reporting constrained access to Greenlandic foods. Barriers restricting traditional food access include changing sea ice conditions, reduced availability of some species, high costs of hunting and purchasing food, tightening food sharing networks, and hunting and fishing regulations.

Conclusions. While the Qeqertarsuaq food system is relatively secure, the research highlights susceptibility to social, economic and environmental stressors which may become more prevalent in the future.