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Four Locally Made Products to Purchase Up in Alaska

September 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM | by | ()

Beer brewed with spruce tips!

It makes sense that Alaska has a thriving craft economy; after all, you need something to do when you’re cooped inside during a long winter. But Alaska’s longtime embrace of environmentalism and local pride, combined with the state’s unique plants and materials, means you can get awesome stuff here that you might not be able to find anywhere else.

If you want to buy a stuffed whale or a totem key chain, there are plenty of places happy to help you with that. But for something truly local* and meaningful, here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Spruce tips jelly, syrup, tea or beer
The Sitka Spruce is Alaska’s state tree, and the Native Alaskans have used the tree and its leaves for food and medicinal purposes for centuries. Spruce tips, the bright-green new shoots that come out of the existing darker shoots in the spring, are packed full of Vitamins A and C and helped save sailors from scurvy. You can get spruce tips in several forms, including a jelly, syrup (like maple but healthier), or tea.

2. Wintersong soap and other beauty products
If someone could bottle and sell pure Alaskan air, they’d make a fortune. In the meantime, the closest you can get is Wintersong’s beauty products, which include lotions, shampoos, bar and liquid soaps. All products are made and packaged locally, and the scents come from local plants like spruce, devil’s club, and lilac.

3. Permafrost vodka
It seems more logical to drink in cold places and this Permafrost potato vodka will have zero trouble keeping you warm. Permafrost is the pure stuff, but the vodka also comes in locally-themed flavors like blackberry, fireweed, and smoked salmon (you’re best off reserving that one for Bloody Marys). If clear liquors aren’t your thing, the Alaska Distillery also makes Alaska Outlaw Whiskey, Bristol Bay gin and Purgatory hemp seed spirits.

4. Theobroma chocolates
What does Alaska taste like? You can eat all the salmon you want, but you can’t go wrong with these chocolate bars named after and inspired by different towns in Alaska. There are bars named for Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan, but we’re pretty fond of the Alaska bar, which is milk chocolate with toffee. Bonus: you can pretend that the labels, which have cute drawings of Alaskan animals on them, are educational.

*Note: We should talk for a sec about how to tell whether something is actually made in Alaska or by Native craftspeople. A small round sticker with a picture of a polar bear and “Made in Alaska” printed on it means that the product was made and manufactured in Alaska. Be careful of vendors who say stuff like “Product of Alaska” or “With Alaskan Pride.” You can have all the pride you want, but that doesn’t make your stuff legit.

[Photos: o_sam_o & Once in a Blue Moose]

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