What Should We Eat? Eating Alaska Continues to Provoke

Last night I showed the documentary, ‘Eating Alaska” to students from the University of San Francisco.


The students are in Sitka, AK for a two week environmental studies program. As they watched the 57 minute film, I reviewed the first draft of a user’s guide for Tracing Roots, a documentary we hope to finish and start sharing soon.

I’ve been at screenings and talks with Eating Alaska in high schools, on college campuses, at film festivals, local food and sustainability events, conferences of social scientists and environmental educators, plus public libraries from Nome to Warsaw. I pulled the plug on traveling to screenings after awhile (though a good offer to a fun place would be hard to turn down), feeling it was time to move on and wondering if I had more to say.

The credits came up. I looked away from my computer screen and my thoughts on retreating glaciers, intellectual property and cultural heritage, and wandered to the front of the room.

The discussion after the screening reminded me again of all the questions students and those not in the classroom have among other things about what they eat, about the choices we make as consumers in a changing environment about what we can do to make our homes, campuses and communities more environmentally friendly.

Some of the post screening questions and topics that came up, with a few of my responses in parenthesis:

“What should we eat?  (That is a huge question)”
“Are all GMOS bad? (Organic is much healthier. There are a lot of risks with GMOS….)”
“But how do we feed 7 billion people?”
“Do organics remind you of class warfare?/Is access to good food is a class issue? (Yes)”
“What if we all tried to live of the land? (Yes, that could be hard on resources).”
“Did you ever pull the trigger? (Would you?) ”
“If all of the transportation of food was green, without a negative carbon footprint/impact, what would eating local mean ?(community -culture-connection)”

OK. I’m not sure as a documentary filmmaker, who needs to stop writing and get in the house to vacuum pack some smoke salmon, I have many answers.

Fittingly, at the end of the evening, one student came up and thanked us for creating a film that didn’t point to a bad guy,  didn’t act like there were simple solutions and left her thinking.

The next Eating Alaska screening is Saturday August 9th at 7:30 pm in Talkeetna, Alaska, hosted by the Denali Arts Council.  Check out “What Sitka Eats” our tumblr blog created by Lucy Wang, an Artchange intern. We welcome submissions and invite other communities and campuses to replicate it.