This Yukon family ate 100% local for a year

For one year, Crocker and her family ate food either grown, hunted, or foraged in and around Dawson City. A big challenge when, according to Crocker, 97 per cent of food is trucked into the community and there are only 66 frost-free growing days. Crocker’s experiment wrapped up July 31.

Suzanne Crocker and her family only ate foods from Dawson City

Suzanne Crocker says she's proud of her family for completing the year-long challenge to eat local. (Submitted by Hélène Roth)

"We did it!" Suzanne Crocker rejoiced.

For 365 days, Crocker and her family ate every meal and snack from food either grown, hunted, or foraged in and around Dawson City. A big challenge when, according to Crocker, 97 per cent of food is trucked into the community and there are only 66 frost-free growing days. Crocker's experiment wrapped up July 31.

She wanted to highlight the knowledge and resourcefulness of northerners. According to her website, and to create a public conversation about food self-sufficiency with communities across the North. Crocker recorded her family's experience for a documentary and on her website.

Crocker said the year went faster than she expected, but admitted her family might not feel the same way.

Eating 100 per cent local meant Crocker had to get creative when it came to food like sugar. Instead, she used sugar beets. According to her website, 15 lbs of sugar beets could make five cups of sugar. (Submitted by Suzanne Crocker)

"I've learned to cook for one thing," said Crocker, talking about the skills she's learned over the year.

Crocker even learned to make rhubarb vinegar because there is no locally sourced vinegar.

Crocker says her family would not have been able to complete the year-long challenge without help from friends and neighbours in Dawson City.

She says farmers grew more food than she could have alone plus home gardeners let her use parts of their gardens.

Others shared food like wild berries, but maybe most valuable was the knowledge that was shared.

"There were the foragers and the many Tr'ondek Hwech'in citizens and elders who opened up my eyes to the vast edible world that surrounds us in the forest," said Crocker.

On her website, Crocker writes that popcorn was one item she would miss in a year of eating local. She writes it's difficult to grow corn in the North because it is not hot enough for long. (Submitted by Suzanne Crocker)

She says they also taught her how to make use of all parts of the animal and the nutritional value in parts she didn't think of before, like the bones.

Family conscripted into challenge

Crocker says she's proud of her family, which includes her husband and three children aged 18, 16 and 12.

"They had to spend a year not having foods in the house that they wanted, having to try weird and unusual food, having to be rationed on food," she said.

Crocker says her husband, Gerard, lost 30 pounds in the first two months of the challenge, "but then he discovered cream and Saskatoon berries."

Suzanne Crocker has learned how to live off the land and off the grid. (Alex Hakonson)

First non-local food in a year?

"We were at the grocery store when the door opened the day after we finished," said Crocker, which was what her family wanted. Crocker says she's still trying to eat as local as possible.

"There were six varieties of cereal, lots of bagels, lots of bread, coffee for Gerard," she said.

And what did Crocker want most after a year of eating 100 per cent local? Vegetable oil.

"There are some things that melted butter or rendered pig lard just don't cut it for."

With files from Sandi Coleman