Eating Alaska

A wry search for the "right thing" to eat
Year Released
Film Length(s)
57 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


A humorous and serious exploration into what we put into our mouths, set on the Alaskan Frontier.

Featured review

Eating Alaska makes us ruminate, laugh and stand in awe, all at the same time.
Gary Nabhan
Author, "Where Our Food Comes From" and "Coming Home to Eat"


What happens to a vegetarian who moves to the Alaskan Frontier?

Eating Alaska is a serious and humorous film about connecting to where you live and eating locally. Made by a former city dweller now living on an island in Alaska and married to fisherman, deer hunter and environmental activist, it is a journey into food politics, regional food traditions, our connection to the wilderness and to what we put into our mouths.

In this quest for the "right thing" to eat, the filmmaker stops by a famer's market in the lower 48 stocked with fresh local fruits and vegetables and then heads back to Alaska, climbing mountains with women hunters, fishing for wild salmon and communing with vegans. She visits a grocery store with kids to study labels and heads to the Arctic to talk with Inupiat teens in a home economics class, making pretzels while they describe their favorite traditional foods from moose meat to whale blubber.

The postcard like scenery in Alaska may be a contrast to what most urban residents see everyday and the filmmaker may have gone into the wild, but she also finds farmed salmon, toxics getting into wild foods and the colonization of the indigenous diet.

Eating Alaska doesn't preach or give answers, but points out dilemmas in a style that provokes discussion on questions such as:

What is the ethical way to eat in Alaska-or anywhere?

Is it better to shoot a deer than buy tofu that has been shipped thousands of miles?

Where is your comfort level in taking a life for food?

This wry personal look at what's on your plate explores ideas about eating healthy, safe and sustainable food from one's own backyard, either urban or wild, versus industrially produced food shipped thousands of miles. Eating Alaska is also a thought-provoking resource for discussing our assumptions about gendered behavior and women's relationship to the natural world.

Recommended by educators as a teaching resource for courses in:

Environmental Studies

Food Security & Food Systems

Nutrition & Public Health


Oceanography & Fisheries


Political Science

Anthropology, Ethnography

Human Ecology

Philosophy & Ethics

Buddhist Studies

Native American Studies

Women and Gender Studies

Documentary Filmmaking

Creative Writing/English


A quirky look at our food system and a delightful examination of food choices in America's frontier where traditional foodways sometimes but not always, gives way to supermarket junk food.
Marion Nestle
Professor, Nutrition, Food Studies, Public Health & Sociology, New York University
This film asks all the right questions and urges us to find our own answers. A useful and heartful tool for talking about food justice and food systems and to help all of us to create a new story about food.
Peter Forbes
Co-founder and Executive Director, Center for Whole Communities
Engaging, clever, thoughtful, insightful, with the perfect balance between humor and seriousness.
Richard K. Nelson
Anthropologist & Author, Island Within and Make Prayers to the Raven
Food is the first place we're remaking our world, and Alaska is a wonderfully funny and varied case in point. You'll see people imagining, one meal at a time, what a more durable world might look like.
Bill McKibben
Author of "Eaarth" and "Deep Economy"
What is the role of food in our lives? What is good food? When is fresh not best? Should all diets be local? Who decides? Who pays for our choices? This engaging film provides plenty of food for thought about some of the most important questions we can ask ourselves, both as individuals and as communities.
Rhonda M. Johnson
Professor of Public Health, University of Alaska, Anchorage
'Take out or eat in?' has a whole new meaning when it's 'in Alaska' we're talking about. Ellen Frankenstein brews irreverent wit and genuine concern into an irresistible stew.
Bill Nichols
Professor of Cinema, San Francisco State University
Wonderfully unpredictable. Super Slow Food messages on sustainability, food traditions, and the value of local farm-to-the-plate.
Bob Berzok
Tucson Slow Food & Film Festival
Ellen Frankenstein takes us on a locavore's odyssey, searching for the meaning of place through the foods we eat. Not content with simple answers, Frankenstein poses the provocative questions many of us avoid asking.
Jessica Prentice
Author of "Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection" & Coiner of the word 'locavore'
This film offers a variety of perspectives on what it means to eat sustainably in 'America's Last Frontier.' Frankenstein's personal journey is sure to encourage personal reflections on the current state of food systems at the local, regional and global levels.
David Fazzino
Anthropologist, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
A tremendous starting point for the discussion of food and its integrated impact on energy, communities, health, food security, trade and education.
Robin Richardson
Founder, Global Food Collaborative
Through Frankenstein's lens, we find a much needed source of reassurance in these stubborn times, and see how clean and cultural and invaluable our food can be.
Phil Loring
The Fireweed

Awards and Screenings

PBS Broadcast
Community Food Security National Conference
American Sociology Meetings
University of California, California State University, and California Community College Sustainability Conference
Award for contribution to public health in Alaska, Alaska Public Health Summit
Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Nevada, NV
Food for Thought Film Festival, New York City
Mendocino Film Festival, Mendocino, CA
American Public Health Annual Meetings
Tucson Slow Food & Film Festival, Tucson AZ
Anchorage International Film Festival
Haida Gwaii Film Festival, British Columbia
Society for Social Problems Conference
International Slow Food & Environment Events in Warsaw, Croatia & Scotland
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, Sonoma, CA

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • DVD Extras
  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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