Canada: between food heritage and processed food


What factors are changing dietary behaviour and influencing eating habits in Canada? Two Canadian speakers analysed these issues at the recent Louis Bonduelle Conference. Nutritional secrets revealed.

For the tenth year running, the Louis Bonduelle Foundation organised an annual conference. This year’s conference focused on the role of culture in diet and the associated changes and perspectives (#LBFconference).

We will focus on the contributions from two Québécois speakers: Christine Jourdan, an anthropologist at Concordia University, Montreal, and Jean-Claude Moubarac, a professor in the Nutrition Department, Université de Montréal.

Quebec’s dietary heritage identity

Cooking and eating in Quebec is closely linked to the social, economic and cultural changes that have marked the history of the region. Family cooking traditions in Quebec reveal a genuine heritage.

According to Christine Jourdan, mixtures of spices reflect the waves of migration and changes within families. For example, basil, rosemary and garlic have been used more since Italians and Greeks arrived in Quebec in 1950s and 1960s. Food is also increasingly a focal point, which is the sign of a gastronomic identity in the region, particularly thanks to the success of gourmet walks.

See Christine Jourdan’s presentation (in French)

Highly processed foods: a question of culture

Highly processed foods can have a negative impact on dietary quality, health, culture and the environment. These practical, ready-to-eat food products are gradually replacing homemade dishes.

This is what Jean-Claude Moubarac has found in his study of four countries with very different food cultures, both in terms of perception and dietary behaviour. He classified the countries in terms of the amount of processing in the food consumed by the population:

  • In France and Italy: meals are an enjoyable time for sharing, based on fresh foods that have not been processed much.
  • In Canada and the United States: meals are eaten on the go and often alone, based on highly processed products.

The value associated with foods seems to be the issue in Canada. This is why Professor Moubarac is calling for the value of cooking and food in general to be re-established. He believes that food guides are a good way of getting dietary habits to change. Let’s all hit the kitchen!

See Jean-Claude Moubarac’s presentation (in French)