Research Funding Aimed at Making Economic Connections Between Food and Health

The federal and Manitoba governments are committing $1.3 million to purchase equipment and conduct economic research looking at links between food, health, and potential savings in the public healthcare system.

Manitoba Ag Minister Ralph Eichler and MP Dan Vandal on Thursday announced $1 million in federal/provincial funding to purchase a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imager at the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. It will be used to detect and isolate chemical compounds in food that provide health benefits. Another $340,000 will fund a new health economist position at the University of Winnipeg in partnership with CCARM.

“The NMR will allow our researchers to identify new markers of disease and identify compounds responsible for the flavour of our food,” noted Dr. Grant Pierce, executive director of research for St. Boniface Hospital. “The new research position will allow us to produce exciting new data on the economic impact of our research on functional foods and nutraceuticals. It’s information that the public, the government and our funders want to know.”

Over the next two years, the nutrition economics research project will focus on links between food-based health products, the healthcare system and the agri-food sector to “determine if measurable savings in the healthcare system are created as a result,” according to the government news release.

“This is a new area of research that attempts to determine the economic benefits that might result from people eating healthy foods,” explained Eichler. “Manitoba continues to be a leader in research related to food and health. This new investment will help to solidify our reputation in this field and, more generally, in agricultural innovation. This is an exciting look to the future as we continue to learn more about how all of these areas are interconnected.”

Funding for the equipment comes from the Grain Innovation Hub — a $33 million federal/provincial commitment made in 2014 to maintain grain research, production and processing capacity in Manitoba. The research project is funded through the Growing Innovation program under Growing Forward 2.

Related: Have Our Cake and Eat it Too — Recognizing the Role of Agriculture and Food Science in Improving Human Health

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Categories: Food / News / Western Canada