Harriet V. Kuhnlein, McGill University

Dietetics and Human Nutrition Professor Emerita Montreal, Quebec harriet.kuhnlein@mcgill.ca

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Bio/Research

The foundation of Dr. Kuhnlein’s work is bringing recognition to the excellent nutritional qualities of unique, little-known foods experienced by Indigenous Peoples in their local rural settings. In a “first things first” approach Dr. Kuhnlein realized early on that the nutrient composition of In...

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Bio/Research

The foundation of Dr. Kuhnlein’s work is bringing recognition to the excellent nutritional qualities of unique, little-known foods experienced by Indigenous Peoples in their local rural settings. In a “first things first” approach Dr. Kuhnlein realized early on that the nutrient composition of Indigenous Peoples food resources must be known before dietary evaluations can be conducted, and before health promotion activities using these resources can be logically planned with a scientific basis. Scientific credibility can stimulate protection of unique food resources and the biodiversity they contribute in contemporary diets and nutrition.

Dr. Kuhnlein’s current work with 12 case studies of grass-roots communities of Indigenous Peoples in 9 countries (Canada, Peru, Colombia, Federated States of Micronesia, Japan, Thailand, India, Kenya and Nigeria) led to a methods procedure available online. This procedure has been widely implemented and is the essential first documentation for food system research and promotion with Indigenous Peoples. A recent publication with the UN FAO documents how the procedure was used in the 12 case studies and shared broadly through the International Union of Nutritional Sciences online. Sentinel earlier work with the Nuxalk Nation in British Columbia demonstrated how promotion of local food of Indigenous People can be used as a platform to deliver nutrition and health education, and build cultural morale for health improvement. The current program is supported by peer-reviewed publications as well as internationally distributed print material (posters) and film and is recognized by several United Nations agencies (FAO, WHO, UNEP-CBD) and The Rockefeller Foundation as important work to move basic scientific knowledge into policy settings affecting Indigenous Peoples.


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