The overall health of a community can be indicated by a community’s resilience. The community’s ability to be self-sufficient, adapt, and meet it’s own needs under conditions of external change can be indicators of an empowered, vibrant, healthy population. Food plays a unique role in this conceptualization of health. Not only can food meet individual nutrition needs, food builds the notion of “health” into the reality of social and cultural community strength and in many cases connects individuals to the land to promote stewardship and responsibility.
Food security and self-reliance are critical components to building sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska. However, in many communities in Southeast Alaska, residents are burdened with the challenge of obtaining healthy and affordable food due to the distance between food producers and consumers, the high cost of transportation between producers and consumers, and the complexity of government management of wild food harvests. Southeast Alaskan residents are especially vulnerable to external disturbances such as spikes in fuel prices, extreme weather events, and changing or hard-to-understand rules governing wild food harvest. These disturbances can undermine the capacity of a community to meet its food needs.
This report presents an analysis of data collected for a pilot study of Southeast Alaskan community and regional food systems from September through December of 2013. The purpose of this research is to identify existing food system challenges in order to target areas of change and actions that can be taken to promote self-sufficient communities and a more resilient food system. As new data is collected, this report can be updated. Ultimately, this research will help guide future efforts to increase the production of cultivated and harvest of wild food that is locally processed, distributed, and consumed in Southeast Alaska.