Monday, September 01, 2014

Alaska Turns to Locally Grown Food Thanks to State Incentives

In a Tough Place to Farm, Discovering Much to Love

By KIRK JOHNSON, NYT, AUG. 31, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The glorious taste of a late-summer tomato, fresh off the vine, is a chin-dripping wonder for many Americans. Except, as many gardeners might assume, up here.

In Fairbanks, just 200 miles from the Arctic Circle, frost can continue into June, while summer surrenders as early as mid-August. A long growing season it is not. On the federal Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness map, a blue smear across interior Alaska shows where the brutal winters, with their 60-degree-below-zero temperatures, make it difficult for anything but the toughest plants, and people, to survive. Partly as a result, Alaska imports about 95 percent of its food, state officials say.

But advocates for local food are now pushing back against the widespread notion that eating food grown or raised in Alaska is impossible or too expensive. Boosted by a state program that is helping school districts buy local products, and food stamp incentives that are luring low-income shoppers to farmers’ markets, locavore warriors are teaching small farmers how to reach the public, and consumers how and where to buy. (In Alaska, local can also mean wild, as in moose or seal meat.)

(More here.)

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