• Recent articles highlight food security issue in rural Alaska

The New York Times on Saturday ran a lengthy article by former Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter Stefan Milkowski about how weak runs of king salmon are hurting Yukon River communities. The article is datelined from the village of Marshall, near the mouth of the Yukon River, where villagers already are feeling the pinch of no salmon to fill their freezers for the winter.

This is a region where heating oil costs $7 a gallon and a can of condensed milk goes for nearly $4. It also is a region that last year faced critical food shortages last year, with many faith groups from around the country sending food to help tide the residents through the winter. Click here to read accounts from “Anonymous Bloggers” about last year’s airlift and what villagers are doing to prepare for this winter.

The food shortages resulted in some July protest fisheries, which resulted in the arrest of the only police officer in Marshall, Jason Isaac, who joined other villagers in claiming state and federal fish and wildlife officials were more concerned with a Canadian fish treaty than they were about rural Alaskans. The Tundra Drums reports that 67,000 Yukon kings reached Canada, about 10,000 to 13,000 more than the treaty called for.

In relatively close-by Bethel, Tim Meyers and his wife Lisa have helped their communities food security with Meyer’s Farm, which is growing enough fruits and vegetables that Bethel residents can buy weekly boxes of locally grown produce for $30. This shows that local produce can be grown in rural Alaska to reduce our dependency on store-bought food.

Food security also hits closer to home, where state Sen. Albert Kookesh of Angoon faces a trial over subsistence fishing practices near his home village.

Not all of the local foods news in Alaska is gloom and doom this week. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner featured a story on Monday about the growth of the Delta Meat and Sausage plant in Delta Junction, which processes locally raised Galloway cattle and game meat shot by local hunters.

Also, this week’s Chilkat Valley News (Haines weekly) included a brief item about a Haines moose hunter who was the beneficiary of a snow goose dropped by a hawk that didn’t have the strength to carry its prey.

Finally, the Alaska Dispatch site includes an update on the inaugural Alaska Local Food Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 2-8 at the Beartooth Theatrepub and Grill in Anchorage. Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein presented her movie “Eating Alaska” on Sunday, Oct. 4.

• Aliens from Running of the Boots fundraiser show up in Daily Sitka Sentinel and Juneau Empire

Screenshot of the Daily Sitka Sentinel site on Monday with the aliens photo from the 2009 Running of the Boots

Screenshot of the Daily Sitka Sentinel site on Monday with the aliens photo from the 2009 Running of the Boots

Screenshot from Tuesday's Juneau Empire featuring the aliens photo from the Running of the Boots

Screenshot from Tuesday's Juneau Empire featuring the aliens photo from the Running of the Boots

The green-headed aliens were the hit of the Running of the Boots on Saturday, earning spots on the front page of the Daily Sitka Sentinel on Monday and in Tuesday’s issue of the Juneau Empire. The Running of the Boots is a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network, and we greatly appreciate race founder Sheila Finkenbinder and the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce donating the proceeds from the event to our organization. A photo gallery from the race is posted just below this one, or click here to go directly to the gallery.

In other recent local foods news, Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein and her movie, “Eating Alaska,” are featured in Wednesday’s Anchorage Daily News. Ellen will be in Anchorage to show her film on Sunday night at the inaugural Alaska Local Food Film Festival, which runs Oct. 2-8 at Anchorage’s Beartooth Theatrepub and Grill.

Click here to read a “Local Flavor” column by chef Ginny Mahar about chanterelles from Sunday’s Juneau Empire, which local mushroom enthusiasts can find throughout Southeast Alaska about this time of the year. Ginny, who works for Rainbow Foods in Juneau, writes the Food-G blog where she has posted several recipes that use chanterelles. Chanterelles are popular this week, because Carla Peterson also writes about them in Capital City Weekly.

Click here to read a letter to the editor in Tuesday’s Juneau Empire about how to eat healthy foods on a budget. The letter, written by staff members from the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, was in response to a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story (that appeared later in the Juneau Empire) about Alaska lawmakers trying to live on food stamps for a week.

Click here to read a Seattle Times article about how Northwest cooks are falling in love with the sablefish (aka, black cod), a fish frequently caught in Sitka waters and available at the Sitka Farmers Market. The article includes a recipe.

Click here to read a blog post on The Atlantic Food Channel called “Local Food Comes To Alaska,” by New York University nutrition, food studies and public health professor Marion Nestle (author of “Food Politics,” “Safe Food,” “What To Eat,” and “Pet Food Politics,” as well as the “Food Matters” column for the San Francisco Chronicle).

If you haven’t visited the “Eat Local Northwest” blog, it’s worth a look. This blog is maintained by two friends — Stephen lives in the Mat-Su Valley and works in Anchorage, while Audrey is from the Seattle area. In the most recent post (as of Tuesday night), Stephen writes about his happy discovery that some of the prices at the South Anchorage Farmers Market actually were comparable or lower than what he was finding at several of local grocery stores. There is a link to this blog in our blog roll on the right side of the page.

Click here to read a story from KTUU-TV (Anchorage NBC affiliate) about Meyer’s Farm in Bethel, a project started by Tim Meyers that now involves a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program where local residents pay a fee and get weekly boxes of fresh, local produce. You can click a video link in the upper right corner, too. Meyer’s Farm was featured in the April 2009 issue of Alaska Magazine (link opens a PDF file of the article). There also is a Flickr photo gallery that shows nearly 100 photos of Meyer’s Farm.

Finally, the new farmers market near the White House isn’t about Alaska food, but it does promote and encourage people to eat local food. Click here for a story about the new farmers market on National Public Radio and click here for an article from the Washington Post. Click here for an article from USA Today about the growth of farmers markets across the nation.

• This week’s e-newsletter (Sept. 14)

Click here to read this week’s Sitka Local Foods Newsletter courtesy of Linda Wilson. Don’t forget, you can sign up for the e-newsletter by typing your e-mail address in the box on the left side of the page.

• UAS-Sitka Campus to host class on how to identify Southeast Alaska mushrooms

se_mushrooms_brochure_fall09_Page_2

The University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus Community Education and Professional Development program will host Kitty LaBounty as she teaches the class “Southeast Mushrooms: How to identify them.” This two-day class takes place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the UAS-Sitka Campus (with field trips). The course fee is $49 and students should dress for the outdoors, bring waxed paper and a bucket for gathering.

This course is designed to introduce students to the mushroom flora of Southeast Alaska. The focus will be on the use of taxonomic keys for identification of fungi and recognition of both edible and poisonous mushrooms. Cooking and preservation of mushrooms will be discussed. Field trips are followed by in-class identification of collected mushrooms.

The class needs to have at least 10 students registered by Monday, Sept. 7 (note that Monday is a holiday, so you might want to register by Friday). The class is limited to 18 students. For more information, contact the UAS-Sitka Campus Community Education and Professional Development program at 747-7762. To register, call 747-6653. Click here to download the course brochure as a PDF file.

For mushroom lovers who can’t participate in the class, there is a free natural history presentation scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, at the UAS-Sitka Campus called “Why Mushrooms Matter.” The talk features speaker Steve Trudell, affiliate professor in the College of Forest Resources and lecturer in the Biology Department at the University of Washington. He also is co-author of a new book, “Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.”

• Local foods in the news this week

Many of Alaska’s newspapers had articles about local foods this week. Here is a sampling of some of the offerings.

Click here to read an article called “Beware of wild things in the blueberry patch” from the Capital City Weekly, about slugs, bugs and bears.

Click here to read an update on the Second Annual Juneau Farmers Market and Local Foods Festival from the Capital City Weekly. This event is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Click here to read an item in Capital City Weekly about a tree planting and pruning workshop here in Sitka on Monday, Aug. 24, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Click here to read an article and photo package from Fran Durner’s “Talk Dirt To Me” gardening blog in the Anchorage Daily News about Dan Bilyeu of Nikiski, who grows and sells gourmet oyster mushrooms.

Click here to read a “Berries of the Kenai Peninsula” feature from the 2009 Peninsula Clarion Recreation and Tourist Guide.

It’s not from an Alaska publication, but the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has a story (click here to read it) about new research into phytochemicals and other healthy plant compounds in potatoes.