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Seafood as Local Food: Food Security and Locally Caught Seafood on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

by Philip A. Loring,a,b,* S. Craig Gerlach,b and Hannah L. Harrison b

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2013.033.006, pp. 13–30

Published online May 31, 2013



In this paper we explore the relationship between food security and access to locally caught seafood for communities of the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska. Seafood and fisheries are infrequently discussed in the literature on local and small-scale food movements; instead, they are more commonly construed as overexploited components of a global food system and a source of conflict with respect to global food security and fisheries conservation. By way of contrast, we argue here that many fisheries have the potential to be sources of healthy and sustainable "local" food, in support of the many values and goals embraced by local food movement, including conservation. With data collected via a by-mail survey, we show that many people in our Alaskan study region enjoy improved food security because they have access to locally caught seafood, especially those households at the lowest income levels. We also show, however, that access to these resources is still uneven for some, and we discuss strategies for improving the social-justice aspects of this component of the regional food system. Our findings are important not just to the fisheries and food security research communities, but also for contributing to a better understanding of the conditions within which local and regional food movements can achieve the ambitious social and ecological goals they seek.


Keywords: fisheries, food security, foodways, local food, salmon, seafood, social justice, sustainability



a Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks; P.O. Box 755910; Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 USA.

b Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, University of Alaska Fairbanks; P.O. Box 756730; Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 USA.

* Corresponding author: Philip A. Loring; +1-907-474-7163; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.


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