Farmers market season is just getting underway, and while shoppers wait for the first big harvest, they can sample something relatively new to Alaska’s local food scene - locally raised pork.
“I've got a whole bunch of customers that are in their 60’s and they haven’t had meat that good since they were at grandpa’s house at (age) 12,” said Alex Davis, who is raising a few dozen pigs on his Palmer farm.
Davis is one of a select group of Alaska farmers trying to create a market for Alaska-raised pork. Much of the state’s agriculture focuses on vegetables, fruits, and dairy.
Davis sells cuts of pork at the Sears mall farmers market on Saturdays and Wednesdays and has a loyal customer base that keeps coming back for more, despite the price.
Pork chops raised by A.D. Farm can cost more than twice as much as they do at a supermarket, but Davis says it’s worth it.
“There’s a huge difference in your flavor and texture,” he said.
Davis’ pigs roam free on several acres of his property, eating a diet of primarily barley soaked in whey. They consume just about anything, though, and are useful when Davis needs to get rid of scraps from his vegetable and berry patches.
“At times, due to the amount of frustration with the amount of work things take, I've actually thought about quitting the vegetable and just doing the animals,” he said.
The challenge, though, is finding enough local pigs to grow his business. They’re often in short supply in Alaska, and breeding his existing stock takes time.
“People don’t even know that I’m doing it so the market’s pretty well untapped,” Davis said.