JUNEAU -- A resolution urging the Parnell administration to push locally grown and harvested food cleared the state House Monday with no opposition, while its Senate companion sailed through its first hearing.
The resolution is a mere suggestion. It doesn't carry the same power as a new law. It doesn't authorize any new state spending. It sets no deadlines. It doesn't even set a goal for the desired amount of local food consumption by Alaskans.
Just about everyone still seems to think the House and Senate concurrent resolutions 1 are a great idea anyway.
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The idea is to encourage a more secure food supply and better nutrition along with boosting the agricultural arm of Alaska's economy, said the prime sponsor in the House, Rep. Bill Stoltze, a Republican from Chugiak whose district includes Mat-Su farm country.
"A long time ago, probably a little before I was born, we were producing over half of our food sources. Some areas of the state, it was 100 percent," Stoltze said on the floor.
Now maybe 5 percent of what Alaskans consume is local: potatoes and carrots, salmon fillets and reindeer sausage, organic eggs and local cheese. The resolution says that Alaskans spent $1.5 billion a year on food as of 2007; the Alaska Farm Bureau says the real figure now may be double that.
Stoltze was the only representative to speak for the resolution Monday on the House floor, where it was dispensed with in about five minutes. But it's clearly popular. The House version has 26 co-sponsors and passed 33-0, with seven lawmakers excused.
Gov. Sean Parnell supports the resolution, his spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said Monday.
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"Just last year, we had a road washout down in the Yukon Territory, and for four days we weren't able to get food up the highway," [Bryce] Wrigley (president of the Alaska Farm Bureau and a Delta Junction family farmer) said.
While much food arrives on container ships, some fresh foods are trucked and shelves were picked clean, Bishop said.
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