The benefits of eating local are well known and documented; it’s better for the environment, it’s better for your health, and it’s better for the local economy. But when you live north of 60 it seems daunting – even in the height of the summer produce harvest.
Fresh local ingredients are more expensive or more difficult to get your hands on. Whether you’re dealing with frost in your garden, or tracking down a caribou for your freezer, living in a northern environment can make even dedicated food people question if eating local is really worth it.
A Dawson City resident, Suzanne Crocker is taking a long, hard look at this issue. A retired doctor turned filmmaker, she is looking to explore and celebrate all the ingredients her community has to offer by committing to only eat local foods for one year and showcase her experience in a documentary film called First We Eat.
“I can google tips for growing celery or how to grow oats, but I will usually find a southern solution,” Crocker says. “I hope this project will become a sort of crowd-sourced guide to Northern food solutions — a place where northern knowledge and expertise is easily accessible and shareable, not just for me and my community but across the North.”
Crocker will keep a garden and forage for ingredients and her husband hunts, so she’ll be able to eat game as well. Birch syrup will be her sweetener, and she will be using rye and barley as her source of grains.
“Salt is a real choke point” she says. “I’m thinking about trying to get it from local mineral deposits, but it will have to be tested to make sure it’s safe to consume”.
She admits that vinegar and caffeine will also be missing from her diet. “I’m really hoping that people will come forward and give me a hand with some tips or a few recipes – I’m a blank slate.”
The project officially begins in July, but Crocker has already started gardening and is beginning to plan and preserve for the winter months. Her family isn’t necessarily thrilled about this project, but they have promised to not bring any outside food into the house.
“The real test will be how often my family chooses to eat out.”
If you have any ideas, recipes or words of encouragement you can reach Suzanne Crocker through her website www.FirstWeEat.ca.