#HarvestingAK eat local food challenge
Several KTVA employees are eating only Alaska-grown food for the month of September. Last year, a crew from the station visited Igiugig, where residents made a commitment to eat a subsistence diet for six weeks.
Our crew came back and challenged the newsroom to do the same.
I am not a hunter, I am not a gardener and I haven't fished in almost 10 years. But when I heard about the challenge I knew I wanted to be a part of it -- even if it just inspired me to shop more at farmer's markets. I committed to a week of eating nothing but locally produced food.
I was born and raised in Nome. We fished and picked berries, but most of our food came on the barge once a year. Our basement was converted into a storehouse, a corner stripped of insulation and walled in for a "cool room."
I clearly remember when we started getting frozen vegetables versus canned ones and how much better they tasted. Our milk was powdered. Our only fresh food was what was locally harvested. We were acutely aware of food security. For many of my childhood friends, eating local is not a challenge -- it's just fall and traditional foods are considered a necessity.
We had a year to prepare for the challenge, so in the spring I started a garden at a friend's house in Palmer: basil, cucumbers, mint, peas, strawberries and zucchini, plus a mystery plant that turned out to be oregano.
I instantly became a nurturer during my weekend visits, imaging my hard-earned harvest. My crop was going to save me tens of dollars come fall.
I knew my little garden would yield enough to get me through a week of the Alaska-grown challenge if I ate nothing but squash.
I bonded with the land, spending hours weeding and admiring earthworms. During the week, I called and asked for pictures of the beans and parsley. Then the plants turned into sci-fi monsters.
On one Saturday, I came out to find strawberry and pea tentacles invading the length of the raised garden. I was so encouraged, I offered to share my bounty with other co-workers doing the challenge. But I spoke too soon.
Enter slugs, which reduced my crop to lacy leaves and half-eaten fruit. The tender zucchini and cucumber flowers helped a swarm of slugs with their own eat local challenge. Slugs sent me back to the farmer's market and dashed my hope of being a weekend farmer.
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