05/28/2013 05:19 EDT | Updated 07/28/2013 05:12 EDT

The Challenges of Food Security in the Yukon


By Florian Boulais, Conservation Klondike Society

In Dawson City, one step away from the arctic circle, we are working to promote more local food production. Here, more than anywhere else, food matters.

We are at the end of the road and conditions are quite crude. Food here is expensive, but mostly fresh, which is already a huge improvement compared to 100 years ago. In those days, there was no hope to see anything fresh for months on end. It was all stored away from the previous harvest. By November, there would only be carrots, potatoes and cabbage in terms of vegetables.

On the other hand, 100 years ago, wildlife was plentiful and people could hunt and fish year round. Now the fish and caribou are less. We Yukon residents had an eye opening experience last year when the main road to the Yukon was cut off by a roaring river. Within 3 days there was little food left on the shelves of the capital, Whitehorse.

The good news is that people are trying to be more independent. There is an increasing awareness of the importance to have more local food. Local food addresses issues of quality (GMO, pesticides), preservation of the ecosystem (our foods come from huge distances away) and security of the supply.

In Dawson, we have been holding evenings during which we have shown informative movies and had discussions around the topic of food. With the help of Small Change Fund, the Dawson City Food Secure Advocacy Group has raised more than $3700. This money will give us the means to hire a coordinator who is going to help us move towards implementing our projects.

Exiting steps are already being taken towards some of the short term projects to make the farmers market more accessible, to modify the local bylaws to allow for small scale gardening and animal raising in town as well. Some of the next projects are looking into the feasibility of a communal green house, a cold storage to store foods over the winter, to work with the local stores to have better quality foods available and much more.

What more meaninfull thing than sharing an healthy and ethical dinner with some friends? We believe that eating good food is the foundation to a good life. If you want to learn more about our group you can check out our facebook page under Dawson City Food Secure Advocacy Group.