USDA & Maine Food

Yesterday’s Portland Daily Sun published a feature article on the federal government’s pilot efforts to promote organic food.

[U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary] Merrigan was in Portland to promote more than $19 million in USDA grants that have been awarded to universities to be applied toward organic agriculture research and education. More than $1.3 million of this appropriation was granted to University of Maine and the University of Vermont for an initiative called the “Northern New England Local Bread Wheat Project.”

This project features Portland’s Borealis Breads as one of its partners, with the goal of increasing the supply of locally grown organic wheat.

USDA & Maine Food

Yesterday’s Portland Daily Sun published a feature article on the federal government’s pilot efforts to promote organic food.

[U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary] Merrigan was in Portland to promote more than $19 million in USDA grants that have been awarded to universities to be applied toward organic agriculture research and education. More than $1.3 million of this appropriation was granted to University of Maine and the University of Vermont for an initiative called the “Northern New England Local Bread Wheat Project.”

This project features Portland’s Borealis Breads as one of its partners, with the goal of increasing the supply of locally grown organic wheat.

Maine Cranbberries

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram has an article about the state’s small but growing cranberry crop.

While those efforts have fallen short – in part because of high startup costs of cranberry farming – Maine’s acreage has steadily increased from 40 acres in 1997 to nearly 299 acres today, according to the 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture census. Maine’s harvest pales next to Wisconsin’s. Wisconsin is the nation’s top cranberry producer with 17,700 acres followed by Massachusetts at 13,000 acres.

Moooo

MPBN broadcast a report yesterday about Maine’s Own Organic Milk, or MOO Milk for short. The new venture will source, package and sell organic milk from Maine dairies. (listen to audio)

MOO Milk, which stands for Maine’s Own Organic Milk, will come from farmers in Aroostook, Washington, Kennebec and Penobscot counties. It will be processed at Smiling Hill Farms in Westbrook and distributed by Oakhurst Dairy and Crown of Maine. McKusick says it should be stocked in Hannaford and independent grocery stores in Maine and New Hampshire.

Urban Chickens: The Big Drop

A Portland urban chickenist, Melissa Falcon, has written an article for this week’s Portland Phoenix on raising her set of 6 citified chickens (Eudora, Clara, Katherine, Flannery, Bird and Coco Chanel) and the highly anticipated start of egg laying later this month.

Already collecting recipes for custards and frittatas, I am having trouble curbing my enthusiasm. With the support of other chicken fanatics awaiting their own first eggs, we are counting the days, passing the time blogging on MyPetChicken.com site and tuning in to backyard Webcasts from an urban coop near Boston (on hencam.com). But nothing can prepare us, really, for the moment, that collective squawk, that will announce “The Big Egg Drop.”

Mushrooms and Shima in the Sun

Wednesday’s edition of the Portland Daily Sun included an article by Margo Mallar on mushroom foraging in Maine,

There are many who don’t mind a little rainy weather: book-lovers and sellers, movie theaters and mushrooms. Although the record setting summer rains haven’t resulted in record setting harvests, goldenchanterelles, black trumpets, and hens of the woods are making their way from forest floor to dinner plates across Maine.

and an article about Shima, the new Japanese restaurant under construction on Fore Street. The Shima article unfortunately hasn’t made it online so here’s some of the key points:

  • Shima’s chef/owner Dave Shima hopes to open in the next 10-12 days
  • Chef Shima had worked for 5 years at Fuji and has been the private chef for a number of bands such as Rush, Chicago and Aerosmith
  • He plans on serving “an eclectic mix of Japanese, French and some Hawaiian food”
  • there will be 25 different types of sake on the menu

Maine Apple Guide

Today’s Press Herald includes a detailed guide to nearly 40 apple varieties grown in Maine with brief tasting notes and some suggestions on which farms are growing them.
Also in today’s paper is an interview with raw food chef Lisa Marie Lindenschmidt and an article on how lobster is now showing up in discount stores.

Maine lobster has long been associated with white tablecloths and candlelight, but a South Portland-based dealer is putting its lobster where the customers are: in discount wholesale clubs and supermarket take-out aisles.

Maine Fare, etc

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a pair of articles about Maine Fare which is taking place in Camden next month. Meredith Goad authored an overview of the food festival

If you’d like to learn how to pair Maine-made spirits with smoked seafood, if you want to experience an old-fashioned beanhole supper – even if you’re curious about how to properly butcher a whole hog – Maine Fare is the place to be, whether you feel comfortable calling yourself a foodie or not.

“People need to know that it’s OK to care about what you eat, that it’s not being a snob to care about what you eat,” Jenkins said.

and Avery Yale Kamila tackles the topic of the keynote address “Can Maine Feed Itself?”

The panel brings together a number of movers and shakers from Maine’s food scene for a conversation centered on how the state can become more self-reliant when stocking our grocery stores and filling our dinner plates.

Also is today’s paper is an article about a Maine Cooperative Extension seminar designed to help farmers cope with this year’s poor growing season, and a short piece on Chef Hayward’s shaved head.

Bartenders and more

The new issue of The Maine Switch includes a feature article on Portland’s favorite bartenders.

Here in booze-loving Portland, we’re lucky to have an abundance of excellent bartenders. Which explains why when Switch reached out to readers, friends, bar flies and the Twitterverse asking for the names of the city’s favorite drink mixers, we were flooded with responses. We took the top suggestions, stirred them with our own bar experiences and these nine individuals rose to the top. Here they share outlandish bar stories and hangover cures, plus pepper us with drinks both beloved and loathed.

As well as a restaurant review of The Frog and Turtle, a guide to Maine beer and an interesting piece on the Maine Local 20 Project. Maine Local 20 is an effort by MOFGA to determine how well matched Maine’s food production and consumption are.

In contrast, we don’t grow nearly enough carrots to supply our local needs, which explains why the vast majority of carrots on grocery store shelves are trucked in from California. Right now, carrots are grown on roughly 30 acres of Maine farmland, but this would need to jump to about 700 to 800 acres to support Maine’s carrot habit. Even though Maine has a short growing season, carrots are a root crop that stores well and could be stockpiled for the winter.

$1.3 Million to Develop Local Wheat

There’s in an article in today’s Food & Dining section on a grant to support wheat farming in Maine and Vermont.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will fund a four-year project that brings together scientists, farmers, bakers and millers from both states to expand organic wheat production in New England, once a bread basket of the nation.

Ellen Mallory, a sustainable agriculture specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service who is leading the project, estimates that Maine produces 200 to 500 acres of organic wheat. Vermont produces about the same.

“It’s hard to get a handle on what the demand really is, but we know that we’re well below supplying that demand,” Mallory said.