A lot of focus these days looks at regional food security issues. It’s a good idea to take stock of what farming products of meat and vegetables are available locally. If transportation became a barricade due to a natural disaster, how much food is on hand to feed one another.
Much of the discussion played out so far is on a philosophical or anecdotal level. We know people trade foods, share foods, live from the land and sea by taking moose, caribou and gathering fish and crab.
How much that happens was anyone’s guess, but it becomes an important question in answering how to maintain food security.
A new study now shows what many of us suspected and it isn’t merely anecdotal. Seafood forms the main meal for most people on the Kenai Peninsula. Seafood boosts the food security of low-income Kenai Peninsula households, according to a recent University of Alaska Fairbanks study. Philip A Loring, Ph.D., in a study, examined how seafood plays a major role in the Kenai Peninsula’s overall availability of food.
Dr. Philip Loring is an ecological anthropologist with research interests in food systems, food security, environmental change and environmental justice. His research takes from political and human ecology, anthropology, geography and indigenous studies. His current research focus for the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy is on coastal and marine resources in Alaska, including such topics as fisheries management and coastal community responses to climate change
In a webinar last week, Loring warned key Lower Peninsula officials that it’s obvious all the waters around Alaska are warming. In trying to predict changes ahead in fisheries, Loring is a harbinger of the future on a topic that is a cherished way of life: taking from the sea to the table.
Loring said a reduction in fish abundance is one of the many possible changes, and that could cut into many families’ main source of food.
Of those surveyed, 23 percent said instead of fishing, sharing is the most common way to procure fish. Very few people, by comparison, said they obtained seafood by other means, such as at the grocery store.
Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed lived below the $50,000 a year income bracket. Of all the seafood consumed, salmon was eaten by 93 percent of those surveyed. Next was halibut, at 64 percent. Clams, at 31 percent, became the third most important source of seafood.
The study also makes attempt to quantify how much trading counts. Researchers have known north slope people trade whale meat for caribou and salmon. A great deal of meat is shipped around the state at any given season.
Loring’s study found that households with income levels less than $25,000 rely more heavily on sharing and trading for their fish.
The full report can be read at:
Comments are closed