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Alaska locavores: Eating local goes viral

Laurel Andrews

Locavore: noun. A person interested in eating foods that are locally produced.

It’s a word that has only recently come into being, as interest in urban farming and horticulture has skyrocketed.

Hipsters -- trend-setting, somewhat ironic, fashion-conscious folk -- are also a recent phenomenon. And like every good trend, hipsters have caught on to being locavores.

American Hipster -- a video series highlighting trend-setters across the country -- has profiled Anchorage residents Matt Oster and Saskia Esslinger of Red Edge Designs. The couple recently concluded a year of eating local, which they feature on their blog.

The video shows Esslinger explaining how her chicken tractor -- a contraption that wheels chickens around the yard -- with a glass of wine in hand. Her workshop attendees, also clutching glasses of wine, nod attentively.

Eating local in Alaska presents unique challenges -- with a climate that is not particularly amicable to agriculture, people can hunt, trap, fish and forage, but only to a point. One U.S. Department of Agriculture survey noted that Alaska spends $2 billion annually on food, but that only 2-3 percent comes from within the state. It’s a statistic some people are working to change.

Essingler takes a long-term view. She tells American Hipster. “We’re not just planning for the next five years on this property. We’re planning for the next hundred years.”

Inspired? Check out the mother lode of Alaska local food resources: Eat Localaska. If you’re looking for restaurants, grocery stores, or whole sales producers, this website will lead the way. 

Want to garden, learn canning techniques, have pest problems or need gardening tips? UAF’s Cooperative Extension Service has a long list of resources for households aspiring to sustainability.