Food for thought: Is a meal of nearly all-local ingredients possible? Yes, but is it economically and politically possible?

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It hardly strains journalism objectivity to declare a gathering promoting locally sourced food received universal raves. Indeed, accusations of “media bias” would almost certainly be warranted otherwise since attendees got to indulge in a free dinner with local items included soup, whale, seal, reindeer and salad prepared by a professional chef (who at one point observed “who can afford to eat like that?”).

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Benjamin Vidmar cooks locally caught whale, seal and reindeer during a Green Circle gathering.
at Arctica Svalbard on Tuesday. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

It was indeed a meal available to practically nobody at any price that evening. The question now is what potential exists on a practical basis for people and businesses interested in local sourcing.

The latest in a series of Green Circle meetings last Tuesday brought together Arctica Svalbard (an artists’ residency program that debuted this spring) and Benjamin Vidmar’s Polar Permaculture Greenhouse (which has generated well over one million kroner from sales and tours since it opened nearly a year ago).

“For me when I started these Green Circles it was just about bringing people together because I don’t know anybody who discusses this,” Vidmar told about ten attendees at Arctica Svalbard’s workshop .

Topics have varied during previous workshops the past year, but Vidmar said the goal during the discussion was making a meal with at least 51 percent locally obtained ingredients.

“The soup I’ve prepared from peas we grow in the greenhouse,” he said. As for the salad green accompanying it, “I just picked this today.”

The real challenge in a real-world sense is the more substantial fare since “it’s not enough to just survive on salads,” Vidmar said. But for this experiment the epicurean entrée was made possible by a major tourism company that donated generous amounts of seal (140 kr./kg.), whale (130 kr./kg.) and reindeer (500 kr./kg).

Which made surpassing the 51 percent ratio by a considerable margin easy (Vidmar estimated 75 to 80 percent of the meal was locally sourced, with bread and smoothies being the primary exceptions). But much of the discussion about how to make such dining possible regularly was more theoretical than practical.

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