Monday, July 30, 2012

Alaska Grown, Because It’s Closer, Fresher, Better

My name is Rachel Kenley Fry, and I am a locavore.

What’s a locavore, you ask? Well, according to Webster’s, this new term means “one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.”

I grew up on a small farm, so almost everything I ate was local. It traveled from our garden or barn straight to our house. With a spoiled childhood like that, it’s no wonder I grew up to be a certified Alaska Grown food snob. Fresh food just tastes better than food that has traveled the globe to get here. Not to mention it’s healthier for you and supports the Alaska economy.

Because I’m so passionate about Alaska Grown, I’ve made it my mission to turn as many people as I can into fellow locavores. I hope you’ll be one. Local food is more accessible than you might think, and in this column I’ll tell you just how and where you can get it.

The cold, wet weather we’ve had lately has not made growing vegetables easy this summer, but they’re still available in the Valley. Look for Alaska Grown lettuce of all varieties, potatoes, tomatoes and rhubarb in grocery stores, and if you don’t see it clearly marked, don’t be afraid to ask for Alaska Grown produce.

The variety is even greater if you explore the local farmers markets. We have two markets in the core area of the Valley: one on Wednesday in Wasilla and one on Friday in Palmer.

At the markets, you can purchase broccoli, zucchini and strawberries,lettuces, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, radishes, carrots, spinach, garlic, Swiss chard, turnips, rhubarb, a variety of herbs, turnips, radishes, collard greens, beet greens, a variety of Asian greens.

Don’t forget to wash down all your veggies with Matanuska Creamery milk, available in stores. Cheese, cheese curds, butter and cream are also available at the creamery. And don’t forget dessert! You can buy ice cream by the scoop at Friday Fling, or buy one of more than 25 flavors at the creamery.

Alaska Hens provides local eggs to Three Bears and also sell broiler hens at Friday Fling. For any other meat needs, visit Mat Valley Meats for anything from beef steaks to yak salami and pork chops to elk patties.

Did you know you can even use Alaska Grown flour for your baked goods? Alaska Flour Co. provides Non-Essentials in Palmer and Allen and Peterson in Wasilla with barley flour and cream of barley breakfast cereal. And once you’ve made some delicious barley products, why not top them with a birch syrup or caramel from Kahiltna Birchworks, available at Non-Essentials or Alaska Wild Berry Products? Or local honey for sale at Turkey Red?

If you don’t love baking or cooking, don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to eat local when you eat out. Restaurants like the Bistro Red Beet, Vagabond Blues, Rusty’s and Turkey Red use a wide variety of Alaska Grown produce in their dishes.

If you aren’t sure if what you’re eating is local, ask your server.

Rachel Kenley Fry is a Division of Agriculture intern who writes for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman as part of her internship. She is 2009 Palmer High School graduate

Check out the full article here and while you are there, you can also do a search on The Frontiersman for the rest of Rachel's articles - just just "rachel kenley fry" as the search term. You can also here the chat with Rachel here.

Image: "Alaska" by NehemiahNesheim


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