Elder Janice Longboat was puzzled why corn, which had been a traditional food of the Mohawk Nation, was deemed unhealthy and was to be avoided by people with Diabetes. Through years of observation and discussion, she determined it was because the traditional method for preparing corn used a particular type of lye. It preserved and dried the corn but reduced the absorption rate of the corn sugar when digested. There is a lot left to learn about healthy eating from traditional food preparation methods.

Ears of Corn
Multi-coloured corn

Every March in Canada, we celebrate Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is Ingredients for a Healthier Tomorrow — based on food security, food literacy, sustainable food choices and food sovereignty. “Your future is healthy”, state Canada’s Dietitians.

You may have heard about food security (having access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate foods), food literacy (understanding how to purchase and prepare healthy foods), and sustainable food choices (food choices that do not harm the environment and our world’s people). But you might wonder — what is food sovereignty?

An open-air market

Food Sovereignty

Food Sovereignty is the right of every person to have access to healthy and culturally appropriate foods made in a way that is safe for the environment and sustainable. Furthermore, people should have the right to define their food and agriculture systems.

What can you do to uphold the Seven Pillars of Food Sovereignty?

PillarDescriptionWhat You Can Do
1Focus on food for peopleInsist that food is more than just an item to buy and sell.
2Build knowledge and skillsLearn traditional food habits to pass on to other generations.
3Work with natureBuy food from sustainable food systems.
4Value food providersRespect the work of all food providers and pay fair wages.
5Localize food systemsBuy local. Don’t dump food products for imperfect appearance.
6Put control locallyShare resources with others near you.
7Food is sacredRecognize that food is a gift of life and not to waste.
The 7 Pillars of Food Sovereignty

Final Thoughts

Nutrition and culinary experts can change how food is studied, produced, shared, and consumed. It needs to start today, so we have ingredients for a healthier tomorrow.


Bodirsky, M. & Johnson J. (2008). Decolonizing diet:  Healing by reclaiming traditional Indigenous foodways. The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures, 1(1).

Dietitians of Canada. (n.d.). Unlock the potential of food. Ingredients for a healthier tomorrow

Food Secure Canada. (n.d.). What is Food Sovereignty?