Eat, Drink And Be indie: Tasty Recipes, Inspiring Maker Stories & Exclusives

Barnacle Foods

Lifelong Alaskans, Matt Kern and Lia Heifetz go to great lengths (and depths!) to showcase the natural bounty of their state, using locally grown, harvested and foraged ingredients, that capture the essence of the rich Alaskan coastline.

So how did they become ambassadors of seaweed-based foods? Like Alaska’s original homesteaders, the duo has always relied on the land. So whenever their fishing expeditions turned up short, they made sure to stock up on wild kelp instead, which grows in abundance along the coast. Preserving their haul for use throughout the year, they created kelp pickles and kelp seasonings, as well as — in a more contemporary tip of the hat to those traditional homesteaders — a wide variety of salty and savory salsas. 

After years spent stocking the pantries of family and friends, they decided to spread love the Alaskan way on a larger scale, launching Barnacle Foods in 2016. And increased production has only deepened their commitment to leaving the land precisely as they found it, resulting in sustainable practices all the way down the line. 

Since it’s naturally plentiful — in addition to being seriously nutritious — bull kelp remains the heart of their business. The team visits different beds during each harvest and removes only small amounts, to cause as little disruption as possible. They also use the very first commercially harvested bull kelp in Alaska. Requiring nothing in the way of arable land or fertilizers, it supports both the ocean ecosystem, as well as the local fisherman who cultivate it. 

Basically, it’s all part of their mission to return as much to the community as it’s given to them. Because like barnacles on a rock, Matt and Lia are firmly rooted to Alaska. And once you get a taste of their coast-to-kitchen products, you’ll be living that Last Frontier life too!