Martin (@martin.h21), a 19-year-old who was born and raised in most northerly state in the U.S., recently created a video in which he walks around a local store and surveys the prices.
“First up, we’ve got the organic green tea for $39.99,” he says of the Kirkland Signature teabags. “All these Tazo, these things are tiny, $7.”
The price of coffee beans, Martin reveals, is especially high.
“Don’t even get me started with the bean coffee,” he says. “This thing is about $33.45,” he says, singling out the Kirkland Signature House Blend. “These are one of my favorites, but they are $35.39.”
Martin continues to go around the grocery store, picking up different common household items and sharing their prices. The Original Nestlé Coffeemate creamer, for instance, goes for $11.09 here. A 1.13-kilogram bottle of Local Hive honey, on the other hand, is essentially three times that price, clocking in at $35.29.
“And then the frozen meats, which is, like, the only type of meat we get out here, because you know, if we try to get fresh meats, they’re gonna spoil,” Martin says, adding that they live off the land, on subsistence. “But regular pork steak is about $6.65 per pound.”
According to Martin, everyone is aware of soda prices, “because everybody loves soda here.” A 12-pack goes for around $20. For 1 gallon of milk, you can expect to pay the same amount.
‘I will no longer complain about the prices where I live’
Many TikTok users who’ve come across Martin’s video are now recognizing their own privilege.
“‘you’re not gonna like the honey prices’ dude literally 39.19 for tea had me flabbergasted,” @…b6f6e6o wrote.
“What?! I live in kugaaruk Nunavut and our 12 pack Pepsi is like a little over 30 dollars!!” @maddieruben shared.
“And here I am complaining about inflation in NYC,” @kimchi__0924 admitted.
“I am totally shocked at the prices in Alaska,” @user7944136408314 said. “I’m complaining about Illinois I couldn’t afford that.”
“I will no longer complain about the prices where I live,” @iheartjomama23 revealed.
Neal Fried, an economist for the Alaska Department of Labor, claims that he’s never seen prices soar this high, “during all the decades” he’s “been doing this.” To put it into perspective, Fried says inflation remained at about 1.5% per annum for about a decade. In 2022, it was estimated at around 8%.
“Most recessions and dramatic things are surprises. But that was such a fast, quick surprise — and something that we’ve never, ever had to deal with,” Fried told the Alaska Public Media. And while the minimum wage increased to $10.85 per hour in 2023, Fried believes the cost of food is outpacing inflation. “I mean, wages have generally increased, but overall, probably not as fast as inflation.”
In 2021, one rural Alaskan resident, Taryn Williams, provided a breakdown of how she saves for and allocates her money to necessities like food.
“My salary has a premium to help with the higher cost of living — educators in the Alaskan Bush make several thousand dollars more, on average, than teachers elsewhere in the continental United States (and elsewhere in Alaska) — but that isn’t necessarily enough to cover all of the sky-high expenses,” she wrote for Apartment Therapy.
Williams, who is vegetarian, claims she spends about $200 each month on produce, $200 on pantry items (including dog food), and $150 on perishable goods.
“A two-pound Kraft block of cheese runs me $15, so I choose to splurge for the Tillamook version for $18, given that it’s only $3 more,” she continues. “I buy $9 pints of Ben and Jerry’s for special occasions (or when I have a specific craving), but keep an eye out for the gallons of Blue Ribbon ice cream, which cost $20 — a comparative savings of nearly $60.”
Videos like Martin’s give audiences a look into the way rural Alaskan residents live, and how different their experience is when it comes to the search for affordable groceries. This really puts into perspective our own privilege — and the ways we may take what we have for granted.
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