The 1,000-Mile Diet

The post office is being paid to deliver fresh food to northern communities. Yes, the post office. And, no, the food is often not very fresh.

By Alex Roslin

November/December 2007

Catherine Qrunnut has a favourite food, and like anyone with a craving, she’ll go a long way to satisfy it. Last summer, she and her husband Edward piled their four kids into a six-metre boat and headed out on the land. After setting up camp, Edward and 11-year-old Raphael trekked for five hours over rocky ground and small hills in search of caribou.

When they reached the mountains, the pair shot a 90-kilogram female, butchered it and hauled the carcass back to camp, where the family shared a meal of raw caribou. It’s not the easiest way to put dinner on the table, the Igloolik, Nunavut, resident admits, but that’s the point. “My greatgrandmother survived hunger by hunting,” she says. “If she didn’t hunt, I wouldn’t be here. That’s why it’s important. I want my kids to see how hard it was back then.”

Though few Inuit families survive solely by hunting anymore, securing food is as challenging in the North as it has ever been. Animals are becoming scarce. In the Northwest Territories, the caribou population is crashing and the cost of everything is soaring. Five years ago, a two-month hunting trip would have cost $1,500. Last summer’s trip set the Qrunnut family back $3,000. “It’s getting harder,” says Catherine, “but we try to save up some money so we can teach our children our traditions.”

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