Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 167–176 | Cite as

Discomforting comfort foods: stirring the pot on Kraft Dinner® and social inequality in Canada

  • Melanie RockEmail author
  • Lynn McIntyre
  • Krista Rondeau


This paper contrasts the perceptions of Canadians who are food-secure with the perceptions of Canadians who are food-insecure through the different meanings that they ascribe to a popular food product known as Kraft Dinner®. Data sources included individual interviews, focus group interviews, and newspaper articles. Our thematic analysis shows that food-secure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with comfort, while food-insecure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with discomfort. These differences in perspective partly stem from the fact that Kraft Dinner® consumption by food-secure Canadians is voluntary whereas Kraft Dinner® consumption by food-insecure Canadians frequently is obligatory. These differences are magnified by the fact that food-insecure individuals are frequently obliged to consume Kraft Dinner® that has been prepared without milk, a fact that is outside the experience of, and unappreciated by, people who are food-secure. The food-secure perspective influences responses to food insecurity, as Kraft Dinner® is commonly donated by food-secure people to food banks and other food relief projects. Ignorance among food-secure people of what it is like to be food-insecure, we conclude, partly accounts for the perpetuation of local food charity as the dominant response to food insecurity in Canada.


Canada Food banks Food charity Food insecurity Food security Hunger 



We thank the people who participated in our studies for sharing their experiences and insights, and we thank Harvey James, Nancy Grudens–Schuck and two anonymous reviewers for commenting on a previous version of this manuscript. We also thank our funders: the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR PHI-200600378); the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR 200609MSH-167158, CIHR/CHSRF PDA-0080-05); the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CIHR/CHSRF PDA-0080-05); the CIHR/CHSRF Chair in Community Approaches and Health Inequalities held by Dr. Louise Potvin at the Université de Montréal (CIHR/CHSRF/FRSQ CP1-0526-05); the Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary; the Institute of Health Economics (IHE-197); the National Health Research and Development Program (NHRDP No. 6603-1550-002); the Public Health Services, Capital District Health Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the Dairy Farmers of Canada Open Operating Grants competition.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Health Sciences CentreUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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