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Wiseman Trading post log house. "IMG_1312" by alaskana is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This post features a story about the shortage of food supply and variety in rural Alaska.

In the bush, bad apples are better than none

The dust cloud settles as the four wheel drive camper pulls into one of the two spots in the parking lot in front of the general store/fuel station in a little 200 souls city somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Interior Alaska. A couple descends the mud covered car. They both are wearing HANWAG trekking boots, white tennis socks, Gore-Tex pants that can be zipped to shorts, a sweater and Gore-Tex rain/wind jackets, biker sunglasses in the style of Jan Ullrich in the 90s, and a leather belt bag. They have sun-burned noses, indicating that they had underestimated the incoming solar radiation in the Interior’s clean atmosphere and the reflection of the sunlight on the first snow in the mountains in mid September. Their sandy blond hair was sun-bleached to butter yellow with a hint of platinum. This color made a stark contrast to the golden tanned skin of their faces and the light blue of their eyes.

A general store in rural Alaska

As they open the store’s door, the old-fashioned bell that hangs on the door handle rings. A Siberian husky steps out, friendly greeting the strangers. The woman makes a face of strong disapproval as the sled dog enters the store with them.


Mature Alaskan woman with hoodie vest and chinos
Back view of fall outfit with Infinity down vest with hood, Oliveo chinos, Great Northwest denim push button shirt, barrette,  Jaeger tote, and Gabriela Rocha strappy sandals


They find themselves in a 340 square feet (31.6 m2) room full of self-made half empty shelves. A strange smell of moldy, wet dog fur, coffee and wood smoke filled the air of the room. “That looks like the Aunt Emma stores of the 50s that my late grandma talked about when I was a kid” says the man who was in his late thirties, may be early forties. “I wonder how they can survive with prices like that” the woman who was about the same age wonders pointing at a small jar of Nutella for $7. “Did you see the fuel prices?” the guy asks. “Yes, over five dollar a gallon! We should fuel somewhere else. These prices are like those for medication at a pharmacy.” the woman replies.


"Aurora General Store Inside V" by Rob Stemple is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
View inside a typical rural General store. “Aurora General Store Inside V” by Rob Stemple is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Tourists Discussing the Shortage of Food Supply

Meanwhile the woman has picked up a shopping basket that had seen better times decades ago. The aisle of the store is so tight that they have to walk one after the other like ducks in a row. “Look what they ask for that Coke” the woman says who is walking in front.

The doorbell rings again and a tall blonde blue-eyed woman in her sixties enters the store. She has braided her long thick hair into a low pony-tail that reaches to the waist in her back. The braid is secured with a small paisley printed silk scarf that is tied into a bow. The woman is wearing a blue A-line dress belted with a distressed 2 inches (5 cm) wide tan belt. On her feet, she has tan flat leather sandals. She looks like the perfect person to play the Valkyrie in Lohengrin.


"Alaska 2005 1 (8)" by raer is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Wooden shelves and small aisle are typical in rural stores. “Alaska 2005 1 (8)” by raer is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The store is the news station

“Hi Dolores, how are you doing today?” she greets the woman standing in a kuspak at the checkout that is just an old-fashioned adding machine with paper print output and a money cassette. “I’m fine, how are you, Claudia? Anything new?” “Hanging in there.” the Valkyrie-type tall blonde answers while petting the husky that had squeezed his way towards her thru the two tourists. “Good old boy, Togo” she greets the sled dog that licks her hand.

Meanwhile the couple has reached a basket with five partly golden, partly red apples that is standing on an old oil barrel. “Look at those apples! They have pressure points all over the place! That’s disgusting! How can they offer those crap to their customers? And look at the lettuce! They have peeled off several rounds of leaves and it’s close to the wilting point!” the female tourist says in a very upset, loud voice to the guy standing behind her. You could feel that she is convinced of the privacy of speaking in a foreign language.


over 50 years old Alaskan woman in a casual fall outfit
Left side view of casual fall look


Caught On the Wrong Foot

“Stell dich nit esu an! Mer san fruh mer han de äppele.” (“Don’t be like that! We are happy to have those apples at all!”) the Valkyrie-type tall blonde said in a reproachful and very determined voice to the female tourist, and she put all five bruised apples in her shopping basket.

You may be also enjoy reading about the white powder that scared the heck out of an Alaskan intern.

Photos: G. Kramm

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