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.

Celebrate food security in Alaska with two free movies on March 24 at Harrigan Centennial Hall

Food security can be a precarious thing in Alaska, where 90-95 percent of our food has to be shipped here from the Lower 48 or elsewhere. In honor of the third annual Alaska Food Security Awareness Week, join us for two short, free movies on the theme of “All About Alaska Grown” from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, March 24, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The first movie, “Alaska Far Away,” is about an hour long and tells the story of the New Deal colonists who settled in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys to farm during the 1930s. The second movie, “Five Reasons To Choose Alaska Grown,” is about 30 minutes and features interviews with Alaska farmers about why they enjoy Alaska Grown produce.

The movies, which also are showing in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau during the week of March 13-17, are coordinated by the office of Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), who has introduced several bills over the years to improve Alaska’s food security. The Sitka showing of the films is co-hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Public Library.

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

• HB92 will require labeling of GMOs for food sold in Alaska

GMOOMGflier

As a food consumer you want to know what’s in your food. Has it been soaked with chemical pesticides? Was it created using genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? How nutritious is it? Unfortunately, current laws don’t require labeling of GMOs, so you don’t know if you’re buying Frankenfoods.

Rep. Geran Tarr, along with co-sponsors Rep. Scott Kawasaki and Rep. Chris Tuck, introduced a bill, HB92, to require labeling of genetically modified food. HB 92 is being heard by the House Resources Committee on Monday, March 9, and Rep. Tarr needs you to provide a letter of support. Can you send Rep. Tarr a letter of support for GMO labels?

Please email a short, from-the-heart letter about why you want the right to know about GMOs to Rep. Tarr at Rep.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov. She’ll forward it along to the committee members.

Also, the timing is great because this week Rep. Tarr is sponsoring “Alaska Food Security Awareness Week,” with special showings of the movie, GMO OMG, in Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka and Fairbanks. GMO OMG is a film that addresses how GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice when it comes to the foods we eat.

Join us to watch GMO OMG in:

  • FAIRBANKS – Tuesday, March 10, 5:30 p.m. at the Blue Loon
  • ANCHORAGE – Wednesday, March 11, 7 p.m. at the Anchorage Museum
  • SITKA – Thursday, March 12, 5:30 p.m. at the Coliseum Theater, Downtown
  • JUNEAU – Friday, March 13, noon-1 p.m., Lunch and Learn at the State Capitol, Butrovich Room, GMO OMG film screening, Butrovich Room, 6-8 p.m.

Here is the link to the Facebook invite. If you could share this with your friends, that would be great.

Rep. Tarr was the sponsor of HJR 5, passed in 2013, to oppose GMO salmon. With your help, she can win the right to know about GMOs for Alaska. Please email her your letter of support today at Rep.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov.

• Sitka residents say ‘No’ to genetically modified salmon during Feb. 9 rally

ProtestersOutside

Size comparison of an AquAdvantage® Salmon (background) vs. a non-transgenic Atlantic salmon sibling (foreground) of the same age. (CREDIT AquaBounty)

Size comparison of an AquAdvantage® Salmon (background) vs. a non-transgenic Atlantic salmon sibling (foreground) of the same age. (CREDIT AquaBounty)

Between 100 and 150 Sitka residents braved the wind and rain on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Crescent Harbor Shelter to protest the possible U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of genetically modified salmon (aka, GMO or GE salmon, or Frankenfish).

The rally (click here to listen to rally coverage from KCAW-Raven Radio) was in protest of a genetically engineered salmon from the Massachusetts company AquaBounty Technologies, called the AquAdvantage® Salmon. The GMO salmon starts with an Atlantic salmon commonly used in fish farms, but adds genes from a Pacific king (chinook) salmon to promote growth and genes from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout that grows all year round instead of seasonally. According to AquaBounty, all of the commercialized fish will be female and sterile, and the fish are designed to be raised in fresh-water pens or tanks on land instead of the usual salt-water pens where most farmed Atlantic salmon are raised. AquaBounty promotes the fish as a faster-growing farmed salmon that takes half the time to reach maturity and be sent to market. To learn more about GMO salmon, read our post from 2010.

PaulRiouxSignsPaul Rioux — the Sitka resident who organized the rally with the help of local fishing groups, the Sitka Conservation Society, and others — said fishermen are concerned about what happens if these GMO salmon escape from pens. He noted that while AquaBounty said the fish will be sterile, other scientists said as many as 5 percent could be fertile, and that’s enough so that the GMO salmon as an invasive species could replace wild Pacific salmon within 40 salmon generations. DavidWilcoxSpeaksSignsDavid Wilcox, a 14-year-old Sitka resident who plans to run across the country to protest GMO foods, spoke for the other residents who said they were concerned with genetically engineered fish in general, and they worried this fish might go to market without being labeled as GMO salmon. (Click here to listen to Rioux, Wilcox and Ray Friedlander of the Sitka Conservation Society discuss why they held the rally during a Feb. 8 Morning Edition interview on KCAW-Raven Radio.)

SayNoToFrankenfishThe FDA, which has been looking at GMO salmon for more than a decade (AquaBounty started work on the fish in 1989), announced in December it planned to approve the genetically engineered fish, just in time for the holidays. At the same time, the FDA finally released environmental impact research papers it was supposed to have released in May. The FDA announcement also started a 60-day public comment period that was supposed to end on Feb. 25. On Feb. 13, the FDA extended the comment period until April 26. Sitka residents are encouraged to go to Regulations.gov and search for “GE salmon” (not “GMO”) to comment on the regulations before the April 26 deadline.

PatKehoeFrankenfishAlaska’s Congressional delegation agrees on few items, but Sen. Mark Begich, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young have been united for a couple of years in their efforts to stop Frankenfish. Sen. Begich this week introduced two bills banning GMO salmon. Last May, Sen. Murkowski introduced an amendment (that failed 50-46) requiring more study of GMO salmon by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). In the House, Rep. Young has been one of the most vocal opponents of Frankenfish and in February he introduced a bill requiring GMO salmon be labeled. In the Alaska House of Representatives, Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) and Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) introduced an anti-Frankenfish bill that passed out of the House Fisheries Committee this week.

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