Farming adds to Alaska’s security

FAIRBANKS — Someone said that man has a lot of problems, but a hungry man only has one problem. That is the problem that Alaskans need to address now.

There is nothing to be gained from waiting until next year, or the following year. There will be times when we will need to rely on our ability to feed ourselves.

Indeed, for many in the state, that has already occurred several times. Our transportation system is vulnerable to many disruptions, both man caused and natural events. Burying our head in the sand or hoping that it won’t happen are not solutions.

On a personal level, every family should grow a garden. For rural folks, this is a common occurrence, but there are many ways even our urban neighbors can grow some of their own food. They can plant vegetables in flower boxes and buckets. Many towns and villages offer community garden areas.

Imagine the benefit of working together as a family and perhaps socializing with other families while hoeing weeds.

Food can be grown in hanging planters, reducing the amount of space needed.

Travel doesn’t look too good this year with the economy anyway, so spend some time with your family in the garden. The physical and social benefits of this effort are far reaching.

While these ideas by themselves do not amount to much in the way of feeding the state, taken together, they make a difference. Even more important, in the process of growing their food, families reconnect with the earth and remember where their food comes from. That is good for all of us.

By supporting local production, we in essence develop our own emergency warehouse system in Alaska.

The beef in the feedlots, hogs in the barns, crops in the cellars, grain in the bins and the canning in the pantries are all part of our emergency warehouse. The warehouse is in the homes and farms of our communities.

Growing more of our food will help prepare us for the next earthquake, volcano or pandemic. But even if we never have another disaster, we will be better off for having rekindled the spirit of self-sufficiency.

Achieving food security for Alaska will require commitment from everyone, small and large growers, consumers and state officials alike.

We all eat and we all have a stake in this and if we do not start working together on it, one day we will all wake up with just one problem.

On Tuesday, we celebrated Alaska Agriculture Day — a good opportunity to give some serious thought to our state’s food (in)secure situation.

Bryce Wrigley and his family own Wrigley Farms and Alaska Flour Co. in Delta Junction. He is president of Alaska Farm Bureau.

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