Alaska offers a new and "leafy" way of eating

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 23:00

Before moving here, I pondered what living in Alaska would be like; I wondered if it would change our eating habits. Watching reality television of Alaska gave me visions of a freezer full of moose, salmon, and king crab.

After our first three years in Alaska, not much had changed. Turns out, you cannot buy moose at the grocery store. While other Alaskan meats are available for purchase, beef and chicken are also readily available. After a while the novelty of cooking reindeer meat, salmon, and halibut faded. I went back to cooking what was comfortable. Alaskan meat was reserved for giving out-of-town visitors a new experience.

I did find getting fresh fruits and vegetables to be difficult. I learned quickly that when I bought produce at the commissary on a Monday I had to use it before the weekend. Weekly meal planning began to revolve around what days I could expect to use unspoiled veggies.

I am a huge fan of farmer’s markets. That should have been a solution to my rotten problem. I would go to the markets and immediately be greeted by tomatoes and leafy green stuff. I eat many a thing I would not touch as a child, but I have yet to grow out of my distaste for tomatoes. Leafy greens are something new to me. All I could think of to do with them is salad, and salads were not part of our usual diet. So I would buy my jams, jellies, and honey, and run away from the veggies that made me uncomfortable, not looking closer to see if there might be anything I would like.

I tried to grow veggies of my own. My children and I bought and planted seeds in cups every year. We watered them and watched them sprout. Then life got busy, and I forget about them. Many died before they could make it outdoors. Local wildlife ate most that survived my neglect.

This year, I decided to join a CSA, community sponsored agriculture, to alleviate my produce woes. Somehow, I did not imagine that the leafy greens that frightened me away from the farmer’s markets would be just what I bought into. The males of my family looked at the first bag and thought it was full of weeds. As the proud owner of those greens I was determined to use them.

Since then, I have found that I like leafy greens and other vegetables that I had not heard of until this summer. We now enjoy a salad with almost every meal. I have learned what pac choi is and that it tastes very good in chicken pot pie. Sandwiches taste better with arugula. My kids will eat kohlrabi until it is gone, and they don’t need to be bribed with dip to do so.

Now that I know I like leafy greens, I have a whole new perspective about the farmer’s markets. Plus, when I got over my fears, I looked closer and saw vegetables that I have always loved.

It is not what I expected, but we are finally eating in a whole new way in Alaska.

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