PUBLISHED: 9:28 AM on Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Box food making Juneau square

Eating organic has become more than just a healthy habit. It's a new trend and no matter now cliché it may be I think we all hope this stylish fad is here to stay.

With the increasing number of organic consumers, the market too has spread and increased overall distribution of organic foods.

Now health-nuts don't even have to go to the grocery store. They can order "the box" and get a box full or organic produce delivered once a week to a neighborhood volunteer's garage, where the box is picked up.

Full Circle Organic Farms delivers approximately 550 boxes to Juneau residences every week on Thursday afternoons. This figure is from their summer season, which they consider to be their slow time and does not include the boxes delivered to all other southeast areas.

"Do you get the box?" seems to be asked as often as "What kind of cell phone plan do you have?"

At Full Circle's Web site customers can customize the boxes content, including its size, variety, things to include and things to exclude. The boxes run from $35-$54 each.

I'm truly pleased that so many Juneauites are trying to live forever, however I'm a little concerned that their regimens may be hurting the local economy and the community.

By not shopping at local markets not only are box buyers sending their money out of the community but avoiding social interactions as well and a walk to the grocery store.

I assume that most of the box buyers are customers of the local health food stores and departments. I guarantee that the 550 boxes a week, about $25,000, is noticed missing in our local store's income.

Rainbow Food's produce section offers an amazing variety of organic foods, but if their customers don't support them how are they expected to continue serving their clientele?

David Ottoson, Rainbow Food's owner, doesn't see a threat, yet. The convenience of offering food right then and there is keeping business strong, but not as strong as before. Sales have declined in the produce section.

Rainbow Food's employee Tara Mcgee said Rainbow is not upset about the new competing box food. They are just happy to see so many people eating organic, and Ottoson in particular is thrilled to see it spread throughout the community.

If anything, that just shows how much more important it is to support Rainbow. People expect that they can just support local business when they need too, like when a vegan desperately needs ice cream on a sunny day.

They won't be able to mail order it then. Rainbow is always there, standing by and if you don't support them all the time you can't expect them to be waiting around for the chance you want ice cream.

Although it may cost a little more once in a while to buy all your food there, you're not just paying for the food right then. You're paying to keep them in our community.

Buying commodities online is increasingly popular. Everybody buys clothes, shoes, accessories and gear online. Once a friend told me he goes into Foggy Mountain to try things on and then buys them online. Then he has the nerve to complain that Juneau does not have enough stores.

How do people expect there to be any stores at all when they don't support the ones we do have?

With Fred Meyers expanding and Wal-Mart on the way Downtown Juneau needs all the extra business it can get.

This out of town business makes it incredibly difficult for small businesses to stay alive. Juneau residences report traveling to other cities to shop for things such as wedding dresses and cars.

NetFlix lets you watch movies without getting off the couch and charging any late fees. Who can compete with that?

EBay has replaced garage sales and online dating services replace supporting local bars. What happened to meeting your community, dancing and getting come cardio?

Alaska has always had an unstable economy. The money here is lucrative and the mentality of spenders seems to go hand in hand with the boom and bust of the fishing seasons.

With the largest annual boom coming soon, the largest PFD in years, it's important to remember to shop locally and keep the money here.

Spending money in other places does not help keep the economy strong throughout the winter.

The best place to spend your money is with your neighbors. The best place to shop is at the local markets, supporting the community.

And although these ideas may be the radical extreme it's important to acknowledge them before they become the concrete reality and we get everything shipped to us in a box.

Milligan is from Juneau, a senior journalism student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and currently serving as an intern at the Capital City Weekly.