I would like to explore the success of Full Circle Farms, the Washington based CSA, and their impact on AK’s food system. While I appreciate their model, admire their achievement, and am thankful for the service they offer many remote communities, (67 drop offs throughout the state, mostly in remote communities) who have no other source for fresh produce. I also worry about Full Circles economic effect on local producers in regions where we can buy locally grown foods.
I have spoken to a number of producers, who participate in the Anchorage Farmers Markets, about Full Circle Farms. One farmer remarked that Full Circle Farm has a pickup point in the next parking lot over from the Farmers Market where he sells. He said was shocked and bummed to see the volume of families driving past the Farmers Market full of AK grown produce, in the height of summer, to pick up their box of globally sourced organic produce. Other farmers have shared that they have felt the drop in customer support at summer markets as the success of Full Circle Farm increases.
We all must eat and Full Circle offers a good option for some Alaskans but what if their success is hurting local producers and our local seasonal markets? In my opinion, if we want a secure food system for Alaska, where we have access to local produce, throughout the year, at prices we can afford, then we must support local producers when given the choice. Even if this means eating another potato carrot casserole creation for the third night in a row or having to drive a bit further to get a local cabbage. Until farmers see the market demand clearing the shelves dayafterday, they have no incentive and no security to produce more.
As consumers we really have the power to vote with our dollars. If we vote for global produce because its convenient, we are in essence telling local producers eating locally grown foods is not a priority and that we don’t care about the security of Alaska’s food system. I say this because I know local foods are available pretty much yearround if you know where to look. Alaska’s farmers are not producing enough for us to eat 100% local but I feel confident that each of us could have some Alaskan grown item on the table at each meal yearround. I challenge each of you to make this a goal.
At a recent meeting I attended, the possibility of creating an all Alaskan version of the Full Circle CSA was discussed. If we were able to create it, a difference would be that that our winter boxes would contain mostly roots (beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes, rutabagas, and cabbage) along will eggs, cheese, and chickens, unless one of the many greenhouse’s offered to grow greens. Producers questioned whether or not consumers would turn their nose at a box without mangos, avocados, and asparagus. Would you? It’s true Alaskans would have to change the way we eat returning to a more bioregional diet, based on the seasons, and the storage potential of crops. Many of us do this with berries, moose, caribou and salmon, but are we ready to do this with our vegetables? You to tell me.
Alaska has a two days food supply on store shelves, no emergency storage, and we import 98% of our food.
Collectively we spend 2 billion a year on food and only 30 million goes to local agriculture (this figure includes hay). I think we can do better for ourselves and our local producers.
I want to hear from you if you would be interested in becoming members of an all Alaskan Box veggie program. Your voices in volume could peak producer interest generating the momentum needed to build producer partnerships willing to give it a try. Ultimately, it’s the consumer voice and dollar that will motivate this idea into reality.
Until we have an all Alaskan veggie box option, for those of you who can choose, please choose to buy local.
Chew happily and wisely (32 times)
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