Parallel Session 15

Critical Media Literacy and Food Literacy


Most of us have a fairly good understanding of food, nutrition and health and how they are related, but how would we rate our level of food literacy? Eating is a complex, multi-dimensional behaviour that includes many points of decision-making and our choices are not often motivated by health. We may not even be conscious of how our environment promotes the overconsumption of highly processed convenience foods, but simultaneously bombards us with media messages about dieting and weight-management. Marketing is one of several influencers on individuals' diets, particularly young people. Food literacy is a set of skills and attributes that help people sustain the daily preparation of healthy, tasty, affordable meals for themselves and their families. These skills can also help us to debunk and push back against harmful media messages.

To be able to appreciate the role of food as nourishment, food literacy education should balance individual nutritional needs, appetite, pleasure, cultural uniqueness, economic means as well as the availability and accessibility of food. Food can connect people. Food can provide work for people.  Families organize to purchase food and cook food. Food can support families who are in need. This workshop will focus on the connections between food, health, active lifestyles, positive body image, mental health and well-being, and parenting. In this workshop we hope to encourage positive dialogue about food, through the concept of food literacy, and help participants view food differently. 

Presenter Biographies

Sielen Raoufi has a Master of Health Sciences in Community Nutrition from the University of Toronto and has worked at Toronto Public Health since 2002. In her role as Nutrition Promotion Consultant in the Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Program, Sielen develops nutrition programs and resources for teachers, parents and students in elementary schools.

Dr. Lorayne Robertson is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Her research interests include studies on the influence of technology in education, critical media literacy and critical health literacy. Lorayne is a former teacher, principal, school superintendent and Education Officer for the Ministry of Education. She has worked in the areas of critical media literacy, body image and eating disorder prevention for more than 10 years.