Bioethics Blogs

Alaska, Food Security, and Climate Change

People may think about Law and the Bioscienes as involving only genetics, neuroscience, stem cells, or other sexy high tech issues.  But agriculture, the environment, and other fields can fall within its ambit, including food security, especially in the world of climate change.

After law school, I had the privilege of clerking for the Alaska Supreme Court in Anchorage. My family was from Montana and I knew that I sort of wanted to go, from Michigan, “up and to the left,” but literally forgot Alaska satisfied those desiderata until midway through the application process.[1] I’m still wrestling with which was more rewarding: working for the court system or exploring the rest of the state. There’s a long-running joke that Anchorage is only 15 minutes from Alaska; it might not be that funny, but everyone gets the point and heads out of town for the weekends.

We moved there in summer, when the farmers’ markets were in full bloom, literally and figuratively. People often seem surprised that Alaska has farmers’ markets. Isn’t it too cold to grow anything? Well, there are 1000-pound pumpkins. Because daylight during the summer can be as long as 20 hours in the southern part of the state—or 24 hours on the north coast—produce does quite well. Tomatoes don’t because it’s not warm enough, but leafy greens thrive. And there are greenhouses for tomatoes, anyway.

While it’s easy enough to get food in Anchorage—and Juneau and Fairbanks—it can be challenging in the rest of the state. Thousands of Alaskans live off the road system, so food has to be flown or shipped in.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.