Saturday, April 4, 2009

Plain Rice

I was sitting at I-Hop the other day with my five year old niece Maddy, waiting for her pancakes to come. They seemed to be taking forever, and she had remarked several times that she was hungry. I commented that she was probably starving since it was taking so long for her order to arrive. She quickly corrected me. "Aunt Patty, I'm only hungry. Starving is when you live in Alaska and only get to eat once a day, and it's rice with no soy sauce."

She was very serious, and I didn't laugh; at least not until later. The idea of starving children is not at all funny, but her seriousness when she explained about them eating plain rice, once a day, in Alaska, struck me funny. I thought it was cute that she got her facts a bit confused. Then I Googled "starving children in Alaska", just to see what might show up. Maddy was not confused at all. I was.

Due to collapsing salmon fishery, unusually cold temperatures, and rising costs of heating fuel, residents of Alaska's rural villages are having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families. It is common for residents to eat only supper. Sometimes it is a bit of moose meat, but frequently it is one bowl of rice. With no soy sauce.