Hanging out with my son recently -- he's on summer break from grad school at Emerson in Boston -- has been a revelation in so many ways. For instance my computer literacy and social media skills have skyrocketed. But more important, he has helped me understand the importance and impact of buying locally and regionally grown foods and supporting businesses close to home, no matter where you live. That said, living in Maine can make a commitment to eating locally a challenge. Our short growing season limits choices in colder months, but come summer time, we have a bounty of fresh local foods to choose from. A trip to the Portland Whole Foods Market today reminded me of how many local and regional growers and purveyors are represented on the shelves of supermarkets, shops, and farm stands around town.
You can find a fairly comprehensive list of Maine farm stands here.
Most markets are getting better about identifying the origin of fresh produce, making it easier to buy within the closest circle practicable. For me this means buying Pennsylvania mushrooms rather than California. Apples from Maine, instead of Washington. Tomatoes from my garden or somewhere nearby.
And, of course, locally grown fresh produce is one of the true delights of summer. The good news is that local foods don't disappear with the autumn harvest. More and more local and regional suppliers are providing fresh foods or creating frozen, canned, and bottled products year round.
Making the commitment to buy locally or regionally whenever possible is one more step we can all make to global sustainability.
Besides, knowing the people who make the food you eat is just plain fun. Beth George and her husband (and my MECA colleague), Tim Kane started the Spelt Right Bakery, a small Maine company that specializes in baked goods made with organic spelt flour and other organic and all natural ingredients. Watching Spelt Right grow has been an exciting and instructive process, and Beth and Tim's commitment to a quality product and to their community is inspiring.
Last night we celebrated my "Buy Local" trip to the market, with h'ors doeuvres on the deck. Simple fare to be sure, but delightful nonetheless. We made a toast to the season with a bottle of Maine Mead Works Honey Maker Dry. made from Maine wildflower honey and other local ingredients. We complimented the light but full-bodied taste of the Honey Maker with a wedge of Cabot Creamery's ridiculously delicious Clothbound Cheddar.
What a lovely way to end a day close to home.