Thirteen people gathered in our home to talk about an exciting new project… eating Alaskan, all Alaskan, for a year. We started by talking about our personal goals with our neighbor, and the energy generated in the conversation could have powered our lights for a year.
Why would people… more than just a few… be excited about all the things they would forgo for a year? Why would they willingly give up the conveniences of lentils, peanut butter, tortilla chips, or wonder bread? Isn’t fixing tasty, healthy food challenging enough?
Yeah. Maybe that’s the point. We’ve become too complacent with our cupboards full of food from all over the world. Who grew it, where did it come from, and how did it get here? It is the same food that is in every kitchen across the country. What is our regional cuisine? What makes Alaska special and unique? And I’m not talking about Eskimo ice cream or buried fish heads. What can we grow or forage to feed ourselves year-round in the city? Can we celebrate the earthiness of a beet or a crisp sweet carrot? Fresh goat milk and sweet, delicate, wild blueberries? Can we develop recipes that use only the bounty that Alaska provides?
There was a resounding optimism that it could be done, contrary to popular belief. The conversation kept jumping to sources and ideas, as we tried to figure out how we could all work together to make this happen. Collectively, we had a lot of knowledge already, and we all wanted to learn new things as well. We could have weekly foraging hikes, potlucks to share recipes and learnings, field trips to Prince William Sound to collect seaweed, saltwater and deer. We could have specialty items that we can trade among ourselves for other good. Maybe we could even get sponsors… would anyone like to give our group discounts on Alaskan food products?
This is beginning to sound like an adventure. And in the process we can prove that it can be done, not just by the wayward hippie homesteader, or Pruis-driving greenie, but by normal everyday people of any age or income. We may drive open more markets for local produce and products. We might develop the cuisine that people will rely on when shipping costs rise and imported food becomes prohibitively expensive for most people. And at the very least, we will have a connection to the food we are eating. We will know the land that the elk grazed upon, the hand who slaughtered him, and how it came to rest on our plate that we give thanks for.