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Episode 58: Food for Thought

By KTVA Alaska 5:59 PM June 5, 2016

From above the Arctic Circle to Bristol Bay, there’s a growing interest in raising food closer to home.

Some of it’s economic. In places like Anaktuvuk Pass, where produce must be flown in, a head of cabbage can cost you $12.

For many, it’s about improving the quality of food.

Others worry about Alaska’s food security — and say it’s risky for the state to be 95-percent dependent on outside sources of food.

This week, we take a look at the frontiers of indoor growing. Some of the highlights:

  • Experimentation at Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks, where food is being grown year-round in greenhouses heated and powered by geothermal energy.
  • Efforts to extend the extremely short growing season in Anakatuvuk Pass, a small community above the Arctic Circle.
  • A Bristol Bay farmer’s ambitious plan to grow produce for Dillingham, using vertical harvest techniques in a container van.

Our guest this week is Jason Smith, owner of Alaska Natural Organics, who is raising crops of organic lettuce, basil and other salad fixings in part of the old Anchorage Matanuska Maid milk packaging plant on Northern Lights Boulevard. Smith supplies a number of local restaurants and talks about the challenges of making an operation like his pencil out.

In this week’s Frontiers, there is indeed a lot of food for thought, as we introduce you to entrepreneurs and community activists, who are experimenting with new ideas and new techniques. They ask that exciting question: why not?

The answer is varied and often surprising.

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