Eating Alaska by Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein to be shown online during Alaska Food Security Week

What happens when a vegetarian from New York moves to rural Alaska and marries a commercial fisherman? Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein explored this and other food security issues in her 2008 film, Eating Alaska.

Feb. 7-13, 2021, is Alaska Food Security Week and Eating Alaska will be shown in a free online screening from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, using Zoom. After the movie, there will be a short panel session about how Alaska’s food security has changed over the past decade with Ellen Frankenstein, and Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Rep. George Rauscher (R-Sutton), and Rep. Mike Cronk (R-Tok).

This event is co-sponsored by the Alaska Farmland Trust, Alaska Farm Bureau and Alaska Farmers Market Association, in collaboration with the Alaska Food Coalition, the Alaska Food Policy Council, and the Food Bank of Alaska.

Eating Alaska is a serious and humorous film about connecting to where you live and eating locally. Made by a former city dweller now living on an island in Alaska and married to fisherman, deer hunter and environmental activist, it is a journey into food politics, regional food traditions, our connection to the wilderness and to what we put into our mouths.

In her quest for the “right thing” to eat, Ellen stops by a farmers market in the Lower 48 stocked with fresh local fruits and vegetables and then heads back to Alaska, climbing mountains with women hunters, fishing for wild salmon and communing with vegans. She visits a grocery store with kids to study labels and heads to the Arctic to talk with Iñupiat teens in a home economics class, making pretzels while they describe their favorite traditional foods from moose meat to whale blubber.

The postcard like scenery in Alaska may be a contrast to what most urban residents see everyday and the filmmaker may have gone into the wild, but she also finds farmed salmon, toxics getting into wild foods and the colonization of the indigenous diet.

Eating Alaska doesn’t preach or give answers, but points out dilemmas in a style that provokes discussion on questions such as:

• What is the ethical way to eat in Alaska-or anywhere?

• Is it better to shoot a deer than buy tofu that has been shipped thousands of miles?

• Where is your comfort level in taking a life for food?

This wry personal look at what’s on your plate explores ideas about eating healthy, safe and sustainable food from one’s own backyard, either urban or wild, versus industrially produced food shipped thousands of miles. Eating Alaska is also a thought-provoking resource for discussing our assumptions about gendered behavior and women’s relationship to the natural world.

Second Annual Food Security Awareness Week includes free showing of ‘Just Eat It’ movie

Food Security Week Flyer(FINAL)

11x17-Just-EatIt-posterThe Second Annual Food Security Awareness Week is March 21-25, and Sitka is joining other Alaska communities to provide a free showing of the movie, “Just Eat It,” that week to discuss the need to reduce food waste in Alaska.

The movie will be shown at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). The Sitka Local Foods Network is coordinating the showing of the movie in Sitka. The movie also is being shown in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau during the week.

In Alaska, roughly one in seven people (105,000 people) live in food insecure households. About one in six people in Sitka (1,500 of 9,000) are on food assistance programs, such as SNAP (food stamps) or WIC. The Food Bank of Alaska is able to recover and distribute about 5 million pounds of food that might otherwise be wasted each year, but the need is growing and that isn’t enough food to take care of Alaska’s hungry. Even food that’s gone bad can be recycled into compost for school gardens.

Statewide, the Second Annual Food Security Awareness Week is sponsored by Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) and Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) in support of HCR 18, sponsored by Rep. Tarr, which will encourages schools and businesses to reduce, recover and recycle food waste in Alaska. In addition, Rep. Tarr, Rep. Kawasaki, and Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) co-sponsored HB 92, requiring labeling of genetically modified food (including salmon).

A trailer for the movie is posted below.

• HCR 18 regarding the reduction of food waste in Alaska

• HB 92 regarding labeling of genetically modified food (including salmon) in Alaska

• Alaska Food Resource Working Group to hold inaugural meeting Nov. 4 in Anchorage

(The following is a press release from the Alaska Food Policy Council. Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart is a member of the Alaska Food Policy Council’s governing board.)

Alaska Food Resource Working Group to hold inaugural meeting in Anchorage

Statewide call-to-action on food resource development

AlaskaFoodPolicyCouncilLogoANCHORAGE, Alaska (Oct. 31) – Alaskans spend approximately $2.5 billion dollars on food each year, but only an estimated 5 percent of the food Alaskans buy is produced locally. The Alaska Food Resource Working Group (AFRWG) is tasked with changing that statistic and building a strong, resilient statewide food economy. The AFRWG will hold its inaugural meeting from 10 a.m. until noon on Monday, Nov. 4, in Room 602 of the Robert B. Atwood Building, located at 550 West 7th Avenue in Anchorage.

On June 28, 2013, Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation calling for the creation of the Alaska Food Resource Working Group (AFRWG) under Administrative Order 265, with the goal of building Alaska’s food economy. As a response to House Concurrent Resolution 1, sponsored by Rep. Bill Stoltze, the Governor signed the administrative order to establish a state agency work group focused on recommending policies and measures to increase the purchase and consumption of local wild seafood and farm products.

The AFRWG will be composed of eight (8) state agency commissioners or designees responsible for the development, oversight, and marketing of locally grown and harvested foods. Increasing collaboration between state and local agencies, the University of Alaska, federal agencies, regional corporations, nonprofit organizations, and the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC). Danny Consenstein, Alaska Food Policy Council Governing Board Member, will serve as a representative on behalf of the AFPC.

“[AO 265] recognizes the importance to all Alaskans of developing a secure food system that can provide jobs, support healthy communities, and increase food security to feed the hungry and insulate us from potential disruptions along the food supply chain,” said Lisa Sadleir-Hart (Sitka), Governing Board Member of the Alaska Food Policy Council.

The Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC) is an independent statewide organization with the vision of a healthy, secure food system that feeds all Alaskans. Over 150 representatives from federal and state agencies, tribal entities, university programs, farmers, fisheries, food systems businesses, and health and hunger agencies serve on the AFPC to determine food policy opportunities to ensure a healthy, self-reliant, and prosperous Alaskan food system. A member of the AFPC Governing Board will serve on the AFRWG to represent the broader group of stakeholders on the Alaska Food Policy Council.

“The Alaska Food Policy Council really believes that the group created by this resolution will ultimately help to both bring Alaska’s rich food resources to market and address issues of access to healthy, nutritious, adequate supplies of food for all Alaskans,” declared Mary Sullivan of the Food Bank of Alaska and Alaska Food Policy Council Legislative Workgroup Chair.

By instituting programs and adopting regulations supporting a vibrant food economy in Alaska, the Alaska State Legislature and the Governor are facilitating momentous steps toward a food secure state. HCR1 and Administrative Order 265 demonstrate the commitment of Alaska’s government to the health, safety, welfare, and overall economic and social well-being of Alaska residents.

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The Alaska Food Policy Council is an independent, statewide organization with a vision for a food secure, healthy Alaska. For more information about the Alaska Food Policy Council, please contact Danny Consenstein by phone at (907) 761-7738 or by email at daniel.consenstein@ak.usda.gov.