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Foods Grown in the Polar Zone

by Mark Keller

... Despite the forbidding climate, food grows in the lands surrounding the North Pole.

The polar zone comprises those regions bordering the Arctic Sea, the icy northern shores of the world\’s continents. This frigid area is a difficult place to live, yet humanity has managed to grow food even here. The arctic region is home to a wide range of agricultural pursuits, with representative species of several food groups raised and sold widely.

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Livestock and Meat

Meat is the easiest type of food to raise near the north pole, making up the overwhelming majority of tribal people\’s traditional diet. Alaska is known for raising beef, pork and mutton, in addition to milk and eggs, while even reindeer are kept for their meat. The livestock of Greenland almost exclusively comprises sheep and reindeer, both of which are slaughtered annually.


Fish farming, also known as aquaculture, is an increasingly successful industry in arctic regions. Northern Russia is home to rainbow trout, mussel and salmon farms, while salmon and trout are raised along the northern coast of Norway. Arctic charr is a less well-known species that is domestically raised throughout the polar regions, contributing to the diets of people throughout the snowy northern regions.


Few vegetables can grow easily near the North Pole, though greens are the best adapted for such harsh climates — many species can even withstand frost. Beets, turnips, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mustard and collards are all raised in northern Alaska and other arctic regions. Northern gardeners often plant them in shallow soil, allowing the roots to grow closer to the surface where the dirt is warmer.

Other Vegetables

Other vegetable varieties are also grown in polar regions, though usually these must be raised under controlled conditions. The Inuvik Community Greenhouse in the Northwest Territories, Canada, is one notable example, located 120 miles above the arctic circle yet growing tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, zucchini and other plants of every description. Rising temperatures in Greenland have only recently made it possible to grow potatoes in the open, and author Gerald Traufetter predicted in an article for Spiegel Online that broccoli and cabbage crops will be possible in the near future.

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