Centre for Food Policy Research
  1. PhD students
Food Policy

Dr. Barbara Seed, MPH, RD

PhD work

The Integration of Food Security into British Columbia Public Health: A Policy Analysis.


  • 2011 - PhD in Food Policy, City University London, UK
  • 2007 - Certificate in Food Security, Ryerson University
  • 1994 - Master of Public Health, Nutrition Administration, University of Minnesota
  • 1985 - Diploma in Dietetics, Health Sciences Centre, Manitoba
  • 1984 - Bachelor of Human Ecology (Dietetics), University of Manitoba.

The study

A policy framework was used to investigate food security initiatives recently integrated into the Public Health sector and other areas of the British Columbia (BC) government in Canada. Stakeholder relationships and limitations, drivers, consequences and recommendations for moving forward were examined.

While Civil Society was the driver for food security in BC, Public Health was the driver for the integration of food security into the government. This represents a re-emergence of Public Health as a driver in food security. Public Health held most of the power, and often determined the agenda and the players involved. While many interviewees heralded the increased legitimacy of food security within the Public Health sector during the research period, stakeholders also acknowledged the relative insignificance of the food security agenda in relation to other "weightier", competing agendas. Conflict between stakeholders over approaches to food insecurity/hunger existed, and it was only weakly included in the agenda.

Interviewees described a clash of cultures between Public Health and Civil Society occurring partly as a result of Public Health's limited food security mandate and top down approach. Marginalization of the Civil Society voice at the provincial level was one of the negative consequences resulting from this integration. A social policy movement toward a new political paradigm - "regulatory pluralism" - calls for greater engagement of Civil Society, and for all sectors to work together toward common goals. This integration of food security into the government,1) exemplifies an undertaking on the cutting edge in progress toward this reconfiguration, and 2) challenges the boundaries of Public Health.

Why This Matters for Food Policy

The identification of Public Health as a driver in food security parallels that of the 1930's world food movement, where the marriage of health and agriculture was first proposed; this integration demonstrates a re-emergence of food security in Public Health, and echoes more recent calls in the literature for health as a key driver for food policy.

The integration of food security into Public Health pushes their boundaries - urging Public Health beyond individual human health outcomes and forcing them to contend with competing internal agendas of food safety and food security. It also contests their "top down" manner, encouraging them to be one of many players within a "regulatory pluralism" approach.

This research explores where practice in BC converges and diverges from the notion of Community Food Security that has emerged as an approach in North America - highlighting stakeholder ambivalence in addressing food insecurity, and bringing the Civil Society concern for food democracy into the forefront.

This analysis echoed scholars' proposals that higher level forces such as trade and food safety policies and neoliberalism create tensions at lower levels. Finally, the research provides an illustration of the applicability of the Ritchie and  Spencer policy framework model (1994) in the analysis of food policy.

Ritchie, J., & Spencer, L. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis for Applied Policy Research. In A. Bryman & R. Burgess (Eds.), Analyzing Qualitative Data (pp. 173-194). London: Routledge.

Employment and research interests

Barbara worked over 20 years in Public Health Nutrition in Canada, and was a Sessional Instructor in Nutrition at the University of British Columbia. She is currently living in the Middle East whilst writing up her Doctoral research for publication.

Barbara is actively seeking work in research and programming toward policy and systems that integrate healthy eating with a sustainable food system and food security.

Public Health Nutrition; food security; food policy; food sustainability; policy analysis; programming and research.


Rideout, K., Seed, B. and Ostry, A. "Putting Food on the Table: Making Food Security Relevant to Health Authorities". Canadian Journal of Public Health, 2006; 97 (3):233-36.

Seed, B. "Pregnant Adolescents Learn About Weight Gain", Journal of Nutrition Education 25:50B, 1993.

Non-Referred Publications

Seed, B. Guest Editor and Author (Eating Green).Mens' Passion Magazine (Kuwait), "Green Edition", May 2009.

Seed, B; Ostry, A. "The Emergence of Food Security in BC Public Health"

In Kirbyson, A.M. "Recipes for Success: A Celebration of Food Security Work in Canada", 2005.

Seed, B. Food Security in Public Health and other Government Programs in British Columbia, Canada: A Policy Analysis. Ten page "lay" synopsis of PhD dissertation, 2011.

Research Reports

"Food for Kidz Child Hunger Assessment", South Fraser Region. BC. 2001 (Project Coordinator).

Work Books and Resources

 "Beyond Fast Foods", Nutrition Education Program, Grades 8-12. Fraser Health. 2007. (Project Coordinator and Writer)

"The Food Dudes", Nutrition Education Program, Grades 1-3. Boundary Health Unit.1998 (Project Coordinator and Writer).


Directed and supervised four UBC Students in 2009 to create a "needs assessment" for nutrition education and promotion in Rwanda.

Conference Involvement

Canadian Association of Food Studies, 2009 Conference Program Co-Chair, 2009.

University of British Columbia Food and Human Rights Conference. Final Plenary Facilitator, Vancouver, BC, 2005.

Selected Conference Presentations

Seed, B., Lang, T., Caraher, M., Ostry, A. "Forwarding Food Security in British Columbia: Lessons Learned and Future Recommendations", Canadian Association of Food Studies, Vancouver, 2008.

Seed, B. "Food Security and Food Policy within British Columbia Public Health". Panel Presentation. Dietitians of Canada Conference, Vancouver, 2007.

Seed, B., Kirbyson, A. Ostry, A., Warner, B. "Ecological Public Health and Food Security: Are We Bridging the Gap?" Agriculture Food and Human Values Conference, Victoria, 2007.

Seed, B. et al. "Food Security in British Columbia Public Health: How Did We Get There, and Where are We Going?" Community Food Security Coalition/Food Secure Canada Conference, Vancouver, 2006.

Seed, B., Ostry, A. "Social Spaces" of Food and Our Health; What's the Connection?" Agriculture Food and Human Values Conference, Boston, 2006.

Seed, B., Ostry, A. "The Re-emergence of Food Policy in Public Health", Canadian Association of Food Studies, Toronto, 2006.

Seed, B. Ostry, A. "The Re-emergence of Food Security as a Determinant of Public Health", Canadian Public Health Association Conference, Vancouver 2006.

Seed, B. "What is Food Policy?"Moving Food Policy Forward in Surrey and White Rock Forum, Surrey, British Columbia, 2006.

Seed, B. "The Emergence of Food Security in British Columbia Public Health", Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society Conference, Portland, Oregon, 2005.

Seed, B. "Advancing Right to Food through Food Security Programs in Belo Horizonte, Brazil", University of British Columbia, NEXUS Spring Institute, 2005.

Seed, B., Ostry, A. "Community Food Security and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges", Poster Presentation, Food Secure Canada Conference, Waterloo, 2005.

Seed, B. "Food Security Programs in Belo Horizonte, Brazil". BC Growing Green conference on Food Security, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2003.

Seed, B. "From Vending Machines to Dialysis Machines: Food Policy and Child Obesity". BC Food Systems Network, Sorrento, BC, British Columbia 2003.

Seed, B. "What Can Food Policy Look Like in British Columbia?" Joint Medical Health Officer/Community Nutrition Meeting, Nanaimo, BC, 2003.