UAF student shares views of Circumpolar Agricultural Conference/UArctic Food Summit

Mohammadi, Azara

By Azara Mohammadi

UAF anthropology student

I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend and participate in the 8th Circumpolar Agricultural Conference, which was only afforded through special funding provided by Chancellor Rogers. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks we are very lucky to have a chancellor who recognizes the importance of sharing ideas across state boarders and actively works to unite the North in an effort to address the common agricultural struggles we face, through the gathering and sharing of information.

As one of the only (if not the only) undergraduate students attending the Circumpolar Agricultural Conference, I was slightly awe-struck at first. Although I read and reread the agenda many time before leaving, I was not prepared for the impact the conference as a whole would have on my understanding of the world.  It would be an understatement to say that it was inspiring to meet and speak with individuals from around the world, leaders in their field, who share a common desire to address food security. The privilege of witnessing a part of the process by which decisions about the world are made, is a memory that will stay with me.

As an anthropology student I was very excited to learn about a more holistic approach to food security, which explicitly includes anthropological knowledge and conceptual tools. The emphasis on understanding food as not just food, but a confluence of many of the aspects of human life within a unique ecological zone, was so wonderfully articulated by many presenters.

As an aspiring champion for local agriculture in my own community, I particularly enjoyed when presenters shared their success stories. In most cases, their challenges were far greater than those I am facing in Fairbanks. This left me with a new perspective that at once made be feel that my challenges were not so difficult, relative to those who truly suffer from food insecurity, while at the same time reminding me why it is important to address food security. I left with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, which I attribute to a clearer vision of what achieving my goals promoting local agriculture might actually resemble and look like in action.