• Sitka Conservation Society hosts wild foods potluck and annual meeting on Saturday, Nov. 13

The Sitka Conservation Society, which helps sponsor the Sitka Local Foods Network, is hosting its community wild foods potluck and annual meeting from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

This annual event gives Sitka residents a chance to share meals made with locally foraged food, from fish and wild game to seaweed, berries and other traditional subsistence foods. Doors open at 5 p.m., with food service starting at 5:30 p.m. Families are asked to bring in dishes that feature local wild foods, and if you can’t bring in a dish that features wild foods you can use a wild plant to garnish a dish made with store-bought foods. Local cooks can enter their dishes in a wild foods contest, too. The event also features live music from the SitNiks and a short presentation on the Tongass Wilderness. There also will be booths about local programs and projects before food is served.

This event kicks off the Sitka Conservation Society’s “Wild Week,” which features events from Nov. 13-20. Another local foods-oriented event is the “Eat Wild” benefit dinner that takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the New Bayview Restaurant and Wine Bar. Hors d’oeurves start at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Bayview chef Josh Peavey will prepare the meal, which also includes a sampling of locally produced beer from Baranof Island Brewing Company. Tickets for this special event are $60 each and available from Old Harbor Books and the Sitka Conservation Society.

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• Hunters, do you know what’s in your ammo and how it affects your meat?

Sitka black-tailed deer (photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tongass National Forest)

Sitka black-tailed deer (photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tongass National Forest)

Hunting for wild fowl and game is a part of normal life in Alaska. It’s the way many of us fill our freezers, and it’s been part of the traditional subsistence lifestyle for centuries. Many of us feel the natural, wild fowl and game we hunt is healthier for our families than store-bought poultry, beef or pork.

In many cases the fowl and game we hunt is healthier, but our choice of ammo can negate that. Using non-toxic shot, in other words using steel shot instead of lead, has been a regulation in waterfowl hunting for many years. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has an informational page about using non-toxic shot. The Institute for Wildlife Studies has informational pages about alternatives to lead and the California non-lead awareness program.

The reason lead shot has been banned from waterfowl hunting is because it gets into the food chain, including humans, and lead can cause major health problems if it gets into our blood streams. In November 2008, a study released by the North Dakota and Minnesota health departments detailed the affects of lead fragments in venison. The study was done after food pantries in North Dakota in March 2008 were told to no longer accept donated ground venison because of lead fragments.

Many older bullets were solid lead, or lead covered by a thin covering of copper. But there are many newer alternative types of ammo that don’t use lead, including bullets that are solid copper, copper with a tungsten alloy core and a polymer tip, and copper alloy with a polycarbonite tip. So if you’re one of those folks who have gone hunting for our local Sitka black-tailed deer in recent weeks, do you know what’s in your ammo?