Alaska Grown products promote sustainable agriculture
Since 1986 the “Alaska Grown” logo has become a recognizable brand that alerts consumers to the fact they are purchasing products that are grown in Alaska. Promotional items bearing the logo, including sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats, are sold at various venues throughout the state in order to create awareness of the program and encourage people to buy local whenever possible.
Many restaurants in Alaska are joining the local food movement by featuring Alaska Grown products and fresh, wild Alaska seafood and meats in their menus. Locally and regionally sourced products range from Dungeness, tanner and king crab, spot prawns, halibut, salmon, reindeer and dairy products, plus a vast selection of produce. In many coastal communities, seafood such as crab, halibut and salmon are pulled directly from Alaska’s waters and purchased on a daily basis, and later cooked to order for guests at local restaurants. To taste some of Alaska’s freshest edibles, contact local visitor bureaus to learn which restaurants are involved in the local food movement, or visit one of Alaska’s many farmers markets.
Alaska’s farmers markets are a one-stop shop for visitors looking to peruse all things Alaska Grown. Markets are spread throughout the state’s five regions between May and October, so no matter where your Alaska vacation takes you there’s likely a local market nearby. Farmers in Alaska face a cooler climate than most, but long hours of summer daylight help to boost crop growth. Community farmers markets across the state offer locals and visitors direct access to Alaska’s agricultural bounty.
The Anchorage Market and Festival is one of the larger outdoor farmers markets in the Southcentral region. Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and a primary travel hub for visitors. Each year more than 300 vendors set up shop across seven acres of downtown Anchorage for the weekend market, and feature a wide variety of Alaskan-made goodies. Admission is free and the entertainment is lively, usually consisting of live music and dancing. Food vendors offer everything from Alaska Grown produce to wild Alaska seafood, as well as more exotic cuisine from around the world. Other booths lining the marketplace sell a variety of clothing, crafts and art — some handcrafted by Alaska Natives — and incorporate a balanced spectrum of prices.
The Tanana Valley Farmers Market also showcases a wide variety of Alaska Grown produce and stands as Alaska’s oldest established farmers market. It’s housed in its own permanent building in the city of Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city. The Interior region of Alaska produces a vast diversity of products, and patrons at this market will find everything from potatoes and peas to pumpkins and poinsettias. Greenhouses help to extend the season for warm-weather crops, including tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs.
For more information on identifying Alaska Grown producers or products, the State Division of Agriculture maintains the online “Alaska Grown Source Book” database, which includes a list of farmers market locations statewide. DNR.alaska.gov/ag/ag_AKGrownResourceBook.htm