Support Your Alaska Grown Roots
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Perhaps it’s locally grown barley flour pancakes for breakfast with farm raised chicken eggs scrambled on the side, fresh garden-greens salad for lunch, or wild harvested salmon for dinner. Alaska’s long growing season, coupled with hard working farmers and fishermen, means our state can offer your appetite an array of choices locally grown from farm or sea to plate.
Procure Alaska Fish, Produce Alaska Grown (HB46)
Similar to the choices you make at the farmer’s market or grocery store, cities and schools throughout the state have a choice to support local when it comes to food purchases.
At the start of session, I introduced the “Procure Alaska Fish, Produce Alaska Grown” bill (HB46). The bill has two major parts:
The bill also give the Division of Agriculture the ability to sell the popular Alaska Grown label in merchandise. What’s great is that proceeds from the sales could be used to increase marketing efforts for Alaska Grown products! As the budget tightens, giving the Division of Agriculture the ability to fund some of their important activities can really make a difference.
The overall intent behind HB46 is to increase the amount of local foods Alaskans eat and support the growers, farmers, and fishermen who work hard to feed the state. If passed, HB46 will go into effect on July 1st, 2018.
3rd Annual Alaska Food Security Awareness Week
Starting this upcoming Monday, I will be hosting events across the state for Alaska’s third annual Food Security Awareness Week. The theme is “All About Alaska Grown” and will celebrate local food producers, Alaska’s agricultural history, discuss the economic opportunities in our agriculture industry, as well as future opportunities for increasing the state's local food initiatives.
Events will be held in Anchorage on March 13th at 7 p.m. in the Anchorage Museum, in Fairbanks on March 15th at 5:30 p.m. in the Blue Loon, in Juneau on March 17th at 5 p.m. in room 106 of the State Capitol Building, and in Sitka on March 24th at 6 pm in Harrigan Centennial Hall. Attendees will watch two films: the first film features interviews with Alaskan farmers regarding Alaska Grown; and the second film titled “Alaska Far Away” details the history of the New Deal pioneers who settled in the Mat-Su Valley.
We need to diversify our economy and our agriculture industry, which will provide tremendous opportunity for Alaska. We know Alaskans spend billions on food every year, but only five percent of the food we eat is Alaska Grown. If Alaskans spent just $5.00 more every week on Alaska Grown products it would bring hundreds of millions into our economy.
Label Genetically Modified Food (HB32)
Paired with these efforts to eat local are measures to address genetically modified foods, like the “Label Genetically Modified Food” bill (HB32). Alaskans have the right to know if ingredients in the food they eat are produced with genetic engineering and do not deserve to be misled with false advertising like “made with natural ingredients.” Genetically-made ingredients are not natural. While federal legislation has passed to address this in part, keeping our state level efforts going is critical because these policies are under threat from the new federal administration.
A second measure addressing GMO salmon, dubbed Frankenfish, is also under consideration (“Ban Sale of Genetically Modified Fish” bill, HB29). We continue to fight federal approval of Frankenfish. Alaska is recognized throughout the world for our wild salmon, halibut, and black cod (just to name a few). The sale of genetically modified fish in our state would have significant impacts ranging from the contamination of our wild fish stocks all the way up to compromising consumer health and the price per pound Alaskan fishermen receive for their wild harvests. These are all reasons why myself and Senator Murkowski have worked together over the years to protect wild salmon and fight against Frankenfish.
Alaskans say “NO!” to GMO. Alaskans say “YES!” to eating local. Tell me, how do you eat Alaskan?