Kelp Farming Helps Foster Alaska’s Economic Independence and Food Security

By Rachel Heimke

Updated: 2 hours ago Published: 2 hours ago

Alaska is home to many remote communities in coastal, arctic, and subarctic environments. The difficulty of transporting food in many of these areas means that food insecurity is a huge problem. According to Food Bank of Alaskaabout one in eight Alaskans goes hungry.

In Cordova, a coastal community that is not served by the road network, groceries come to town by barge or plane. Long transit times mean that products are often bruised or wilted upon arrival. Many nutrients have been lost and prices have increased enormously due to transportation costs. For households where money is already scarce, fresh and healthy produce is simply not accessible.

To solve the problem of food insecurity, the Alaska Food Policy Council recommends that Alaska produce more food in the state to combat this problem. Kelp farms, like Cordoba’s own Noble Ocean Farms, are rising up to help build strong local food webs and increase Alaska’s climate resilience.

Kelp is considered a superfood. According Health line, kelp contains high amounts of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and folic acid, as well as a multitude of vitamins. It is one of the best natural sources of iodine, which can support thyroid health, leading to better brain function and higher energy levels.

Seafood Nutrition Partnership adds that kelp has a high level of antioxidants. These can protect cardiovascular health and help fight other diseases. Kelp is also high in fiber and healthy fats, like omega-3s. Did you know that fish get most of their omega-3s from eating algae?

Interestingly, kelp contains alginates that bind toxins together, which can cleanse the lymphatic systems and remove toxins from the body. Kelp may also help people with diabetes regulate their blood glucose levels, according to the Nutrition website. Eat this, not that.

Kelp can be eaten in a variety of fun ways, including making your own fresh seaweed salad. Many use it in soups and its salty flavor can make broths richer. Kelp can be treated like any green vegetable and mixed into stir-fries, stir-fries, and scrambles for added flavor and health benefits. Kelp can also be used in salsa, bread, pesto, and even desserts.

Besides being a nutritious food, kelp is sustainable to grow. Kelp farms are unique in that they require no external additives to grow their product – no soil and no fertilizer. In fact, growing kelp creates cleaner water and a more productive environment through nutrient uptake. The process of photosynthesis allows kelp to absorb so much carbon dioxide from the surrounding water that it has been shown to reduce the local effects of ocean acidification, which also makes it a tool in the fight against climate change. climate change.

Underwater farms provide refuge for many marine species, including fish, invertebrates and marine mammals. Kelp provides nursery habitat, which means it’s a place where many species of fish can safely hatch and grow, contributing to the robust fisheries we depend on. By growing kelp, we can enhance other important food sources at the same time. Kelp seems like an ideal crop for our future.

Rachel Heimke is a University of Alaska Fairbanks student interning at Noble Ocean Farms, a kelp farm in Cordoba.

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