There are many things about Alaska that are spectacular and wonderful. There are also quite a few things about living here that go against my beliefs. Like the size of my carbon footprint.
Nearly everything in the world I want, need, and consume is being shipped via barge from somewhere else. Mostly Washington. Berries, rugs, popcorn, fixtures, nuts, bolts, puppy food, you name it.
Or at least this was the case until I started opening my eyes and trying to make a difference.
It is taking a little more work, but it turns out I can get the things I want and need from retailers, producers, and craftsmen here in Alaska. There is dog food make exclusively in Alaska, even a local pet store that I love which enables me to ditch Petco and give all the cash I spend on my pets back into the Alaskan economy. Local bookstores, Alaskan breweries, and more recently my commitment to attempt to buy as much produce as I can with the "Alaska Grown" sticker proudly on the front.
Because of my new pledge, this weekend I ate the first tomato since May that actually tasted LIKE A TOMATO. It was glorious. I nearly cried.
As well, on Saturday I headed to the Farmers Market, and walked away with lettuce, broccoli, a cucumber, zucchini, fresh white onions, Alaskan caught shrimp (F-you Fred Meyer, I REFUSE to eat Indonesia farmed shrimp when there is fresh shrimp right there in the water!), Alaskan grass fed beef and prosciutto, Alaskan basil and parsley. All raised right here in Alaska thereby making the carbon footprint of my salad once again in the normal and respectable range.
I also talked with the ladies of Matanuska Creamery about their dairy farm, tasted some of their delicious cheese (getting some next week when our gross block of tasteless crap is gone), and spied their beautiful ice cream. Our conversation led me to notice their yellow milk jugs at the local grocery store, helping me to finally support a local organic dairy, instead of being forced to buy crap milk shipped in from who the hell knows where.
And if all that wasn't enough, I also saw some of the most beautiful cauliflowers I've ever seen in my life.
Yes, that last one is an edible cauliflower! I don't know that I could eat something so beautiful though.
This weekend I didn't reinvent the wheel, I didn't become a homesteader, and I'm not in a place where I can grow all my own produce to decrease both my grocery bill and my "environmental guilt" but, I can support the farmers of Alaska in my own garden's absence and that little step makes me feel just a smidge better about my footprint, and I think it's a step in the right direction.
Some day I'll have my dream house with my super garden, my chickens and turkeys. I'll grow as many veggies as I possibly can, make my own tomato sauces and have a freezer full of my own frozen produce to get me through winters.
But until then I'll just keep collecting ideas on my Pinterest account for this dream home/farm of mine, and in the meantime I'll make the commitment that in January I wont buy lettuce at the grocery store because I know that lettuce had to be shipped in from who knows where, and potatoes will do just fine to get me through the winter.
And that salad in the early spring will taste so much better when I know it came from my very own window box.
Sorry if things got a little preachy around here. It's just I've had a lot of time this summer to think about growing food, my current inability to grow much food compaired to living in Olympia, and how much work it takes to get everything I buy to me in Alaska. The days of living in the abundance of Washington are very, very over and I'm finding I need to adapt.