Going local with your food choices is hardly a new idea, but for a family in Alaska it has made a profound difference in their own food habits. Saskia Esslinger, of Anchorage, recently took part in the Alaska Food Challenge, which encouraged residents to eat local for an entire year. To start the project, Esslinger and her family transformed a few hundred square feet of lawn in an urban neighborhood into their garden.
From their small garden, the Esslinger’s produced a total harvest of 1,622 pounds. They grew rhubarb, cabbage, cucumbers, kale and other greens as well as zucchini, carrots, potatoes and other root crops. Their initial financial investment for their garden was about $200, but their harvest translated into a savings of over $5,000 had they purchased their food in the grocery store.
Of course, growing the food is only the beginning. Since much of the harvest needs to be stored to last through winter, the family actively canned or froze items. They transformed cucumbers and cabbage into pickles and sauerkraut. Their diet, however, was far more diverse than just their garden.
Fish made up a good additional portion of their food intake. They harvested 224 pounds of salmon over the year. They made salmon sausage and salmon bacon, while Esslinger’s husband hunted a caribou, yielding 150 pounds of meat. This was all supplemented by home-raised chickens.
While the challenge is over, the Esslinger family continues to live and eat in the same manner as their year-long experiment. They do buy things from the store on occasion, but they find the self-sustaining aspects of eating local to be too great to ignore.
Esslinger sums up their experience best, stating, “You get the exercise and fresh air from growing and obtaining food this way, there’s the health benefits of not having MSG or GMOs, there’s no fossil fuels used to grow and ship food to Alaska, or go to the grocery store for it. And eating all homemade or from-scratch food is so delicious.”
Source: Alaska Dispatch