Arctic Appetite

At the Northernmost tip of the globe, Greenland can seem impossibly remote, even in our digitally connected society. With towering icebergs, the midnight sun of summer, and the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) in the winter months, it has an otherworldly beauty.

(Traditional method of fish drying, Greenland. Image courtesy of Helle Kæer.)

But this stark beauty has a price: the freezing winter temperatures and isolated location mean communities living in the Arctic Circle navigate extraordinary conditions and relative seclusion from the rest of the world. This unique society piqued the research interest of Metropol Global Nutrition & Health researchers Ann Fenger Benwell, Susanne Stilling and Chalida Svastisalee for their research project ‘Arctic Appetite’. The impact of the Greenlandic way of life on food choices lies at the heart of the research, with the aim of developing food recommendations that focus on sustainable, healthy and affordable foods desired by indigenous people in Greenland.

Fishing village Greenland. Image courtesy of Finn Salomon

(Fishing village, Greenland. Image courtesy of Finn Salomon.)

For low income families in particular, maintaining a diet which is sustainable, healthy, affordable and culturally acceptable can be a real challenge. But Arctic Appetite hopes to build recommendations, policies and campaigns in association with the Greenlandic Ministry of Health so this is achievable for children and families.

In late November, Chalida and Susanne took to the city’s capital, Nuuk to collect pilot information about fruit and vegetable variety in the local supermarkets. Chalida commented:

“It was really incredible to see the variety of fruit and vegetables in the larger grocery stores, but the prices were much higher than what one pays in Copenhagen.”

Susanne Nuuk II

(Susanne Stilling explores Nuuk during the daytime in November. Image Chalida Svastisalee. )

The high cost of fruit and vegetables could be a contributor to social gradients in dietary patterns. Other differences observed were in the greater variety of fish and game meats, both fresh and frozen.

Now the crucial pilot information has been gathered, the next stage of the project will unfold throughout 2016. The group plans to map out food resources and empower community groups about food access . In cooperation with participants, they are looking to develop partnerships with local supermarkets, food outlets, food colleges and the local media to feature and promote local foods to ensure that all families have access to foods that are healthy, affordable and reflect local cultures.

Nuuk statue

(Statue of Kaassassuk, the orphan from Greenlandic folklore- Image by Chalida Svastisalee.)

Want to get involved with Arctic Appetite?

The Arctic Appetite project is seeking a student interested in working with various aspects of the project such as data collection, literature reviews and focus group facilitiationbetween February and August. Your working contribution is flexible. This is an unpaid position, but you must be self-sufficient, detail-oriented, ask questions, and not afraid to work with Excel or at least willing to work with it. Supervision and support will be provided by Susanne Stilling and Chalida Svastisalee.  For more information and to apply please contact Susanne Stilling (ssti@phmetropol.dk).

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