From Amy Green, an assistant professor in Culinary Arts & Hospitality at UAA.
Cooking is challenging in even the best conditions but consider cooking food on gases and heat emitted from a volcano. This image depicts just that. In 1919, explorers in the Katmai National Park experimented with this primitive cooking technique and adapted it to fit their nomadic conditions. I imagine that everything else around them was also cooked from their packs and gear to the soles of their feet. The sulfur gases must have made everything taste like rotten eggs. On the upside, there is no wood to chop, no fire to tend—let’s face it—free energy is hard to come by. Nutritionists would have to agree that steaming food is healthy. The gases steam slow and steady, resulting in nature’s crock pot.
And from Nancy Nix, an associate professor of Public Health at UAA.
So many thoughts cross my mind when I look at this photo. To focus on one of these, I think about the environmental contaminants and the exposure these folks are encountering while working at this site, sitting near these fumaroles, and heating up their food as well. The ash in the air can cause disabling respiratory effects, while the fumaroles release carbon dioxide, radon, sulphur gases, fluoride, etc. These toxic contaminants also make their way to the neighboring towns, plants/crops, soil, and groundwater.
While viewing this photo, I also try to imagine being there during that time period. What a novelty of having that natural heating source. It reminds me of seeing old photos of folks watching that interesting mushroom-shaped cloud that formed near test sites in the western U.S. Little did they know or think about, at that time, the possible health implications. It would be interesting to follow-up with some of these people in the photo.
Like today, there are many novel and interesting gadgets and all (plasticware, cell phones, bluetooths, etc.) that we use substantially. Generally, we don’t think about them much or the possibilities of future health consequences from some of these items. But today, they are fun and useful. Who knows what information future generations may have about these things and what they may think about when they look at a snapshot of today.
More coming soon!