Karen Rideout

Study program:
Ph.D. in Land and Food Systems
Current affiliation:
University of British Columbia

Karen aims to assess how the current globalized food system affects food security in the North and South

2004 Trudeau scholar Karen Rideout studied how personal, cultural, and spiritual connections with food can motivate people to support healthier food systems. Rideout currently works at the BC Centre for Disease Control, where she leads efforts to integrate health equity considerations into environmental public health practice and supports collaboration between the food security and food safety sectors. She also advises on knowledge translation and policy on a range of issues relating to food, the environment, chronic disease prevention, and public health.

Doctoral research

Nutrition Security in a Globalized Food System

Vast changes in agriculture and trade have increased the quantity of food produced globally during the past century, but despite that reality, access to quality food remains a challenge for many of the world's citizens. Ms. Rideout's research aims to assess how the current globalized food system affects the way people eat and to examine Canada's role in this system.

Many regions in the South produce fresh produce and agricultural commodities for export while opening up their markets to imports of highly processed "value-added" foods. This shift in the flow of food between countries negatively impacts the availability and quality of food, particularly for poor and vulnerable people, and creates structural impediments to healthy eating. Using a holistic ecological public health approach, Ms. Rideout will explore the impacts of such changes in the flow of food on the diets of vulnerable people. She will examine how industrialization leads to a loss of food-related skills and how different groups are learning to regain valuable skills. She will identify alternatives aimed at creating an environment that facilitates healthy, educated, sustainable, and just food choices.

It is difficult to put into words what the Trudeau Scholarship has meant to me. In a few words: opportunity, challenge, excellence, and collaboration.

As a Trudeau Scholar, I have gained a great deal both personally and professionally. I have had opportunities and experiences that would not have been available to me without the support of the Trudeau Foundation. As a Trudeau Scholar, I was able to attend international conferences and workshops to network and participate in wider dialogues about global food issues, as well as conduct exploratory research in India while planning my dissertation. Without this support, I would not have been able to conduct my comparative study of food policy in India and Canada. I have been exposed to a huge range of thought and perspectives which enriched both my research and my experience conducting it. Perhaps most importantly, this was my first sense of being part of a strong academic community - a group of highly supportive people working separately yet together to build a better world. I have made lasting friendships and developed research relationships that will continue well beyond my time as a Trudeau Scholar.

The Trudeau Scholarship gave me the freedom to explore my research options and ultimately design the study that best met my goals and interests. There are few, if any, granting agencies that support this type of professional and research development. My interactions with the Foundation and its members also helped to broaden my theoretical and methodological perspectives. As someone with a specific training in public health and epidemiological research, these experiences were essential in my successful shift toward a more socially oriented form of research. My involvement with the Trudeau Foundation has helped me grow as a person, as a researcher, and as an engaged citizen.