If you live in Alaska and you ever find yourself in “Real America,” a.k.a. “the Lower-48,” a.k.a. “Outside” in summer, prepare to experience what expert scienticians call “the full-body Alaskan producegasm.”
Most Alaskans are familiar with this phenomenon, but I’m not sure folks down south understand what I mean:
Until relatively recently, you couldn’t get any fresh produce at all in most parts of Alaska, and still can’t in many remote areas, as shipping is prohibitively expensive and lemons don’t grow on the tundra. In 2018, fresh produce is easier to come by in most of the state, but it’s still expensive AF, truck or barge-ripened, rots quickly, and tastes terrible.
Up on the Last Frontier/the Great Land, it’s easy to forget that it’s possible to buy—for less than the price of a human kidney and the carbon footprint of a small West Virginia coal prospect—tomatoes, peaches, peppers, and cherries that don’t taste like props in a kitchen display at Crate & Barrel.
It’s easy to forget that the earth can produce something besides sour wild berries, potatoes, kale, giant cabbages, kohlrabi, radishes, and rhubarb. Sure you can grow some things in Alaska and grow them huge for a few midnight sun-drenched months a year, and lots of committed farmers and gardeners do exactly that.
However, most produce that grows at our northern latitude shares one common feature: it must be drenched in sugar, fat, and/or salt to keep it from tasting like some sort of punishing famine-ration in an eighteenth century Eastern European Jewish ghetto.
Every time some foodie tries to sell me on beets, for example, I’m just like, look son: my ancestors didn’t come through Ellis Island and escape genocide so I could choke down some gritty root they turned into a stew with a rock and a chicken neck. And then to add insult to injury, be 100% convinced I’m bleeding internally from my colon the next morning?
No fucking thank you! Hard pass!
All of this to say, going to the farmer’s market in Corolla, NC, where I am spending a week “family bonding” took the FOMO sting out of “WHY DID I LEAVE ALASKA IN SUMMER given that it’s raining and thunder storming all week and I live in a rainforest where it is now sunny.”
Sometimes, all you need is a decent tomato.