Small businesses are flying more goods from farms to doorsteps

Fun fact - Oysters help boost your immune system to help fight off anything that comes your way.

Photos courtesy of Hama Hama Oysters & North Shore Living Herbs + Greens

Today, many small businesses are flying products directly to consumers due to restaurants and retail stores being disrupted by COVID-19. Alaska Air Cargo is delivering the goods from shellfish to prepare in your kitchens to fresh herbs to mix with your soups or freshly baked bread.

We’re grateful for the relationships we have with our shippers from small to large, and freight forwarders who help small businesses deliver their products door to door across the country. Together, we play a role in bringing joy to consumers during this uncertain time,” said Rick Bendix, cargo marketing and business development program manager. “At Alaska, we’re doing everything we can so businesses continue to thrive and people at home stay safe.”

With so many of you staying home and cooking possibly for the first or the billionth time, we get that it can be overwhelming to cook a meal from scratch. So, we reached out to some of the small businesses we partner with that bring fresh food to your tables. Here are a few tips & must-trys:

Be shellfish & stay home

Fun fact – Oysters help boost your immune system to help fight off anything that comes your way.

Hama Hama Oysters sits at the mouth of the Hama Hama river on Hood Canal in Washington state, a Pacfic Northwest region packed with delicious oysters, mussels and clams.

For nearly 12 years, Hama Hama has partnered with Alaska Air Cargo to fly oysters to cities all over the country including Chicago, New York and Miami. “There’s probably more oysters flying on planes than people think,” said wholesale manager Justin Stang.

“If you want to eat fresh oysters in Chicago, the oysters might actually beat you there if you went to the airport and tried to get on a plane,” he added. “Air travel allows Northwest shellfish to be consumed as fresh as possible all over the U.S.”

We want oysters and clams to be iconic Northwest foods and that’s why being able to sell them through Alaska Air Cargo to get them super fresh to places around the country is really key,” – Justin Stang

Adapting on the fly at home and in business

These days, Hama Hama is shipping more shellfish straight to consumers’ homes rather than restaurants. Stang says it’s helped their small business survive the pandemic, but restaurants help them thrive. Regardless, it’s been exciting to watch oyster culture grow as people step out of the comfort zones in their kitchens to test their shellfish cooking skills.

“Being stuck at home and still being able to get fresh oysters and clams delivered to your doorstep has really broken down some of the intimating barriers that can come with preparing shellfish and has inspired people to try things they have never tried before or to experiment with different recipes to prepare oysters or clams,” Stang said. “We’re always trying to educate people to become familiar with shucking oysters, I think taking away restaurants has really empowered people.”

Hama Hama is a 5th generation oyster farm that has been in business for over 100 years.

How to shuck oysters at home:

What you’ll need:

  • Oysters
  • A pot of water
  • Oyster knife
  • Heavy duty gloves
  • Cloth towel
  • Ice & lemon wedges for serving


Step 1: Wearing gloves or using a kitchen towel, hold the oyster firmly in one hand, cup-side down. The curved side of the oyster should be against the palm of your hand. The point, or hinge, should be facing toward you.

Step 2: Insert an oyster knife into the hinge to pry the oyster open. Tip: Point it down into the cup of the oyster and twist to separate the top and bottom shells.
You should feel a pop! Be careful not to spill the juice or puncture the meat.

Step 3: Transfer oysters on the half shell to a bowl or plate filled with ice.

Step 4: Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!

Check out recipes on Hama Hama’s website.

Spending more thyme in the kitchen?

Herbs are the ultimate sidekick, they go with everything!” – Jules Buehler from North Shore Living Herbs + Greens

Jules Buehler has worked for North Shore Living Herbs + Greens as a business development manager for three years, she says you can never go wrong by adding a pinch or two of fresh herbs to any dish (like beautiful basil or rich rosemary).

You can find North Shore Living Herbs + Greens in retail stores from Alaska to Southern California, New Mexico, Salt Lake City, Portland and more.

“Whenever you use a living product, such as culinary herbs, it amplifies the flavor and dish and creates that finishing touch to elevate your dining experience,” she said. “We’re thankful to have such a wonderful and consistent delivery method for our product.”

Every year, Alaska Air Cargo carries about 20 million pounds of food, including herbs and other perishables like vegetables and fruit. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of herbs come from California, Hawaii, Michigan and more.

North Shore Living Herbs + Greens, based 60 miles East of Palm Springs, uses a unique proprietary growing method so their products remain living with the root ball still attached. Every herb is packed with everything mother nature intended and has three times the shelf life, says Buehler.

North Shore’s herbs arrive inside of a “clam shell” to lock in freshness and protection during transportation.

“We have a very unique product that is fresh and beautiful – it can’t be tossed around or mishandled, it needs to be at a certain temperature and delivered efficiently,” she said. “We can always count on Alaska to ensure our product can deliver delight to kitchens all across America especially in a time when people are looking for something to brighten their day and to freshen up their plate of chicken and rice or soup.”

Herbal homemade cleaners

Not only can living herbs bring out so many flavors, but they can also be used as disinfectants and natural remedies for health and wellness. Pair sage with water with a little alcohol to make your very own natural disinfectant that smells wonderful, says Buehler.

“Whenever you’re eating living herbs, you’re getting those healthy enzymes and oils that mother nature intended and are naturally helping your immune system,” Buehler said. “Herbs are great when you’re trying to take small steps toward living a healthier lifestyle.”

North Shore Living Herbs + Greens has been family owned for over 30 years. Owners Leo and Suzette and their 3 children still operate the business today.