Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meeting An Original Member of the Alaska Food Challenge

Last month, my friend Patty and I went to town to hear Saskia Esslinger speak on her experience of eating only Alaska-grown foods for an entire year. She and her husband converted most of their yard into gardens and greenhouses, hunted and fished for their meat, and foraged for fruit and mushrooms. Even though their original Challenge is long since over, they still eat mostly Alaskan foods and plan to continue.

Her group had a pledge to grow as much as they could themselves; support local growers for the things they did not grow themselves; use up spoilable pantry items but don't replenish them if they are not local; make an exception for 'small carbon footprint items' (this is where she made her exception for leavening ingredients); and if someone invited them out to eat, they could go, but to make up for eating a non-Alaskan meal, they would invite other people to their house and feed them an all-Alaskan meal to balance things out.

Saskia's year-long challenge started on the Summer Solstice. I decided to start ours at the first sticking snowfall because it would give me the entire summer to prepare. I don't have a greenhouse or garden, so my produce would come from local growers, and that meant weekly trips to the farmer's markets and my Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription to a nearby farm.

Originally, I thought I would only be able to obtain enough extra produce to get us through a couple of weeks of local eating, but as the summer went on, I met more and more growers and found more and more sources of goodies. Now my goal is to eat only local foods for two months - longer if we can, but two months during the winter is the goal. Two months is nowhere near a year-long endeavor, of course... If I manage to do a longer experiment next winter, though, Saskia gave me a lot of new things to consider.

This morning, there was frost on the ground and ice in the puddles. I don't think it will be much longer before Jim and Deanna's Alaska Food Experiment begins!

Me and Saskia. Thanks to Patty for the photo!

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