Alaska News

Anchorage couple share lessons learned in year-long 'eat local' challenge

Matt Oster and Saskia Esslinger had a mission: For one full year, eat only food grown and produced in Alaska, with as much as possible coming from their 9,000-square-foot lot. Now KTVA reports that their year-long journey has ended, and they are sharing what they learned.

At the beginning of their journey, they faced some trepidation about what their adventure would bring. On their blog, a June 25, 2011, post states:

Matt stands at the pantry, staring at the remnants of store-bought food that remain. "It's going to be a cold reality once this all runs out."

"Yeah, it will be different," I agree. But inside, I can't wait until it is all gone.

It turned out to be an easier transition than expected. Their garden produced 1,600 pounds of produce. The couple fished, hunted, froze, canned and jammed food. And, to their surprise, they ate well, and still have leftovers.

Also during the year, the couple welcomed son Gracen to the world. He's now 7 months old, and has eaten only local food his entire life.

Besides eating well, the couple found another benefit: Savings. They estimate that for the entire year, they spent only $2,000, including money spent on plants and gas for hunting and fishing trips.


Their blog is filled with tips and musings about their year-long journey. The last entry deems the challenge a success:

Yipee!! It's been a full year since we made our pledge to eat local! And what an amazing journey it's been! I feel happy, well-nourished, and still excited about Alaskan food!

Yet at the end, Esslinger told KTVA, "We didn't feel like it was really that much of a challenge."

The couple is now offering workshops for those interested in going local.

Craig Medred

Craig Medred is a former writer for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.