Exploring Food Literacy in Nova Scotia Public Schools: A Critical Analysis
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Our contemporary way of life has created a challenge for society with regards to food and well-being. The environment in which we live has changed dramatically over the past half century and has had a profound effect on our health and food related choices and behaviours, accelerating diet-related diseases and hindering environmental sustainability. Thus, becoming literate about how food affects one’s health, community and environment is important to combat this challenge. This study sought to explore how food literacy (FL) is conceptualized and communicated to better understand its dimensions, the socio-cultural context, and the interaction with the food environment. This was done through developing and testing a proposed FL Conceptual Model using a critical lens through a cultural systems paradigm framework. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 participants, comprising nine teachers and eight parents of students in Nova Scotia public schools. Thematic data analysis was used to define four key themes as predetermined from the interview transcripts: 1) Complexity of Capitalism and Regulation; 2) The Nexus of Social Practices; 3) Intricacies with the Value of Food; and, 4) Dichotomy of Two Cultures. I concluded that understanding the ideologies imposed on society and schools is imperative to empower those within the boundaries of the school system to progressively transform the socio-cultural context related to the school food environment. This can only be achieved through a better understanding of FL as a concept and how it can be applied in order to mobilize change for better health and well-being of self, society and the environment.