State officials want Alaskans to spend a little bit more money on products grown in state. To do that, the Department of Natural Resources is trying to get more food with the certified Alaska Grown brand out in front of shoppers.
The Division of Agriculture has a new campaign called the “$5 Alaska Grown, Five Month Challenge,” which is hoping to coax Alaskans into spending $5 a week for five months on Alaska Grown products.
“If every Alaskan were to take this challenge it would put tens of millions of dollars back into the local economy,” Division of Agriculture Director Arthur Keyes said.
The division is partnering with forty grocery stores across the state to put Alaska Grown products on their shelves, marked with new promotional displays. That will include mainstays of Alaska farming like carrots and other vegetables, but also locally grown flowers, as well as more protein options like beef and pork.
Keyes, who is himself a farmer, sees the initiative as a way of bolstering Alaska’s agricultural sector by raising consumer awareness to ultimately drive market demand.
“I want to change how people look at food and how people look at agriculture in Alaska,” Keyes said. “I think people are unaware of how good it is here.”
There’s also a longer-term goal of building back some of the state’s food security. As Alaskans have become more dependent on imported supplies during the last couple decades, people are putting away less food in their homes, and communities have come to rely more on planes and ships making regular deliveries. Keyes believes a stronger local agriculture sector is one way boosting resilience in case of a major crisis.
“If things got very dire and the supply chain was broken for, let’s say a month, people would absolutely know,” Keyes said. “There would be no doubt that we were in a very bad situation.”
The Alaska Grown program started in 1986 to promote locally grown agricultural products.
The “Five for Five” initiative starts on June 1st.