Jennifer Brady, RD
Director of School of Nutrition, Acadia University
I am a proud to be a Registered Dietitian and the Director of the School of Nutrition and Dietetics at Acadia University. The path that led me to my current role started out with an undergrad degree in women’s studies. After taking some time away from school to travel and live abroad, I returned to university to do my undergrad in food and nutrition at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU; formerly Ryerson University). I then did my masters degree at TMU, my dietetic practicum at Sick Kids, and my PhD at Queen’s University with Dr. Elaine Power in the critical health studies/cultural studies stream of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. For my doctoral work I explored the history of the dietetic profession in Canada, specifically the profession’s relationship with justice-oriented change making, through the oral histories of seasoned dietitians.
Today, my work as a dietetic educator and researcher is rooted in my interdisciplinary background. My research draws primarily on qualitative and mixed methods with which I explore critical and feminist perspectives of food, nutrition, health, and the history and professionalization of dietetics in Canada. The majority of my research is collaborative and I am very fortunate to have an international group of brilliant, supportive, and passionate colleagues, who are also good friends and mentors, that make this part of my job so rewarding. I have a number of different projects on the go that I’m excited to share. For one project I am part of a team of brilliant feminist food scholars, a published children’s author, and a digital artist. Our team, which includes Dr. Elaine Power my PhD supervisor and now dear friend, is writing a graphic novel about a group of kids who confront the inherent problems of food charity and set out to foster the kind of structural change that is needed to redress the root cause of food insecurity, namely poverty. I am also working on an edited volume with another dear friend and colleague, Dr. Jacqui Gingras. That volume focuses on health profesion(al)s’ roles in social justice and is due out in 2023. Finally, I am also continuing work on a project that I started about five years ago and that sits at the heart of my research and teaching. That project explores dietitians’ understandings of, preparedness for, and engagement in socially just practice and advocacy. I’m hoping to take this ongoing project in a new direction to focus on race, racism, and in dietetics.
Outside of my work life, I am a mum of two kids and an anti-poverty advocate. I am a member of Basic Income Nova Scotia, an advocacy group that is pushing for the implementation of a basic income across Canada as a root-cause solution to poverty and food insecurity.
What is your favorite place to find new recipes?
I read recipes like other people read novels. Recipes are my bedtime reading. I regularly scroll through a few online favourites, which include Bon Appetite, Epicurious, Food52, and the New York times. I even read the recipe reviews, which are often hilarious, and always informative. I love learning about new cooking techniques, flavour combinations, and ingredients, but even more so, I love the way that recipes are a window into understanding the world, its history and geography, as well as the complex relationships among people and populations across cultures, traditions, and ways of knowing. A recipe is like a poem; every recipe contains a story.
What do you love most about your job?
The work of a professor is so varied; we do research, we write and publish papers and books, we teach, we attend conferences, and we serve on a wide variety of university, community, and professional committees and organizations. That is really what I love most; the wide variety of things that I get to do everyday and the variety of wonderful colleagues and students that I get to work with and learn from.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Nova Scotia?
I like the hidden gems around the city. I am not a big restaurant goer, partly because I really enjoy cooking for friends, family, and my kids, but when I’m going out to eat it’s usually something low key. I particularly enjoy a really good greasy spoon diner—it can’t be fancy, and must have bacon and eggs.
Finish the sentence: “I feel healthiest when…”
I feel healthiest when I’m listening to my body and taking care of its needs like for sleep, good food, rest, and connection with others. As a society we are so driven by the hustle of work, earning money, and buying things that we often disregard the knowledge and needs that is in our bodies. I’m guilty of getting caught up in the hustle of everyday life, so I find I am often having to be really conscious about reminding myself to slow down and take the time I need to function as a human with a body that needs care.
What is one tip you could share with future/current dietitians?
I have a deep respect for the dietitians who are out in the community, clinic, and food service settings everyday; I don’t think I am qualified to give them any tips. However, if I were to share one message that I think all of us could benefit from that is, as dietitians we are so important to health care and so capable of making real change in the world in other ways such as in food systems and climate change. We have a strong individual and collective voice, and I think we need to use it more often to create change within our profession, but also in the world generally.