• Public use of local foods in the Tanana Valley: understandings of producers and low-income community members

      Garcia, Rachel Aleksandra (2012-08)
      This thesis explores factors that affect local food use in the Tanana Valley region of Alaska. Alaskan public discourses increasingly link local food production to a more sustainable and secure state and community food supply. However, current local food system development in the United States is marked by signs of socially unequal distribution of the benefits of local food. In Spring 2011, semi - structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with agricultural producers and community members affiliated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). Results show that local food use is complex and tied to livelihood and daily concerns of both producers and consumers. Producers highlighted challenges in food production, and characterized public use of local foods as limited by insufficient production. WIC employees and FMNP recipients viewed convenience and cost as important determinants of local food use. This exploratory study contributes to a more complex understanding of the local food system in the Tanana Valley through close examination of the perceptions and life experiences of human actors in this food system.