Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:
Jan. 30, 2013
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local fare: Cooperative market seeks to revive downtown store
About 1,500 Fairbanks residents have purchased memberships in the Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market, which should open in the old Carr's Foodland building off Gaffney Road sometime within the next few months.
The investment is testament to the passion of "locavores" — people who want to eat food grown near them in ways they can see, understand and endorse. The market's founders intend to stock the store with local fare but plan to fill in the gaps with imported goods to create a full-service grocery.
That seems like a good model for success, and it's welcome news for Fairbanks on a few levels.
First, creating a large-scale grocery open year-round could help boost demand for local products, making local farms more profitable and sustainable. Many people want to eat locally produced food, and they'll pay more for it, but they aren't always able to connect with Interior farmers in a regular and efficient fashion.
Agriculture in the Interior at one time was a major enterprise, relative to the population. We had dairies, hog farms, produce farms and others, but most declined or disappeared after reliable and efficient transportation links were established with the Lower 48. Local farmers had a tough time competing against the combination of California sunshine and federal subsidies. As long as those factors remain, it's unlikely that Alaska farms will be able to beat back Outside products on a large scale.
Nevertheless, the surge of interest in eating local food likely might have created a profitable niche. The overstuffed parking lot at the farmers market on College Road during summer months provides visual evidence of the potential.
Beyond the benefits to Interior agriculture and local food enthusiasts, the cooperative market could bring back something else — a full-service grocery store easily accessible to residents of downtown Fairbanks.
Downtown hasn't had such a store for many years. The settlement of the state's anti-trust action against Safeway during its purchase of the Carr's grocery chain in 1999 doomed the Foodland store. The agreement forced Safeway to sell the store. It survived under the new ownership for just more than a year before succumbing to the economic disadvantages of being a smaller player in a less favorable location.
Those factors still will challenge the Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market. However, the new store has something the other stores never did — a dedicated band of hungry locavores willing, literally, to put their money where their mouths are.
Jan. 29, 2013
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: On a Quest
Alaska mushers are rolling out for Whitehorse this week as they get ready to start the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race on Saturday.
After a year of training and planning, it's finally time — and Alaska fans are all looking forward to seeing the results as the teams race across the 1,000 miles back to Fairbanks.
Following the mushers will be dozens of handlers, race officials, fans and members of various media outlets.
The Daily News-Miner has a representative in that last category. Veteran reporter and editor Jeff Richardson is following the race for our readers this year.
Richardson knows a good story, and we expect he'll find more than a few during the coming weeks with the mushers and their entourages.
Last year, just 26 seconds separated Hugh Neff's winning team from Allen Moore's second-place crew. Who knows what drama this year's race will bring?
The Quest isn't just about drama, though. Many of the racers are there for the experience of immersing themselves and their teams in the wild. They'll get into the race, too, as the finish line approaches, but the experience of traveling across the frozen North is what truly draws them.
As fans, we all appreciate their willingness to take the trip — we'll enjoy it vicariously from our warmer and more comfortable encampments