In This Remote Part of US, Amazon Prime Is a Food Tool

Eater takes a look at meal planning in the Alaskan bush
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2022 2:15 PM CDT
In This Remote Part of US, Amazon Prime Is a Food Tool
A view of the Alaska Bush.   (Getty/joshanon)

Supply shortages and high prices since the start of the pandemic have forced many Americans to alter their spending and consumption habits. Those same economic forces also hit communities in the remote Alaskan Bush, but that’s nothing new up there. According to Bree Kessler, writing for Eater, people in the “city” of Bettles (pop. 63) know how to keep food on the table, not only by stocking freezers and ordering supplies weeks in advance but also by pooling resources. Generally, to qualify as “Bush,” a town lacks a direct connection to the national highway network. Truck deliveries are possible in the dead of winter via the “ice road” on the frozen Koyukuk River; everything else that can’t be grown or gathered in nature must be flown in.

The only food shop in Bettles is “as big as a mid-sized walk-in closet” with a supply of junk foods “people crave either when they’ve returned from 10 days in the backcountry … or when they’re up late due to the midnight sun.” Potluck suppers provide opportunities to share and socialize, and nothing goes to waste where “priority continues to be that the Native elders have enough to eat.” Fresh strawberries may be rare, but there are plenty of reliable options, especially for anyone with an Amazon Prime account. Kessler figures Amazon “likely loses lots of money” shipping bulk items to the Bush, and she recalls laughing in disbelief upon opening a box of coconut milk delivered via “free shipping.” Read the full story. (More Alaska stories.)

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