Friday, September 9, 2011

Eating Local on the Island

We take many things for granted. Like access to a grocery store. But how do you get fresh food when you spend two weeks on an island in Maine that is accessible only by boat?

The island market is charming in its way. Where else does the owner stand behind the counter all day, chatting pleasantly to customers? Where else can you run a tab for snacks and sodas, kept using a calculator and pencil? But the store doesn't pretend to be anything but a convenience store.

Fortunately, a few farmers have responded with creative solutions. This summer, a boat from Mitchell Ledge Farm in Freeport has been coming to the island on Saturday mornings. I smile every time I see the name of the operation - "Lettuce by Land, Carrots by Sea."

They sell an array of fresh produce, eggs, meat and bakery goods. 

Much as I was charmed by the farm boat, I hope it doesn't put the island's farm stand out of business. The farm stand runs on an honor system, with a lock box for money. 

Island friends are generous with food from their gardens and freezers. I find this particularly remarkable because we see them briefly and only once a year. A neighbor gave us fresh carrots. A childhood friend of my husband's gave us a pound of frozen haddock, caught in a deep-sea fishing trip. Another friend gave us a giant zucchini, two onions, garlic, basil and potatoes. We also collected windfall apples from around his Macintosh tree, which we quickly transformed into apple crisp.

Of course, we had to eat lobsters. The waters around the island are bright with lobster buoys marking the location of traps. Our friend down the road is retired teacher turned lobsterman. He takes orders for live lobsters two to three days ahead of time, available for pickup in a drywall bucket. 

Life is sweet eating local.


Bridget said...

Eating local is the only sustainable way to go. Sooner people realise that the better.
Local food for local people.

pumpkydine said...

Now that is a really charming story. I just love to see different ways people adapt and cope with their challenges. Love the boat/market but I really like the little veggie stand. Thats is just too cool! Thanks for sharing a bit of human nature at its best.

linniew said...

Wow, nice vacation. I think I've had lobster twice in my life. But as Bridget says local is best, and lobster is way not local to Oregon-- Looks like plenty of wonderful fresh food on your island, great relaxed eating in a beautiful place!

Donna said...

so much the way I want to go but we have to contend with snow so we cannot eat local all year. As we discover more about the local produce that is in the area and not laden with chemicals we are frequenting those folks...of course I keep trying to learn more about growing higher yields here in my small veg I want fresh lobster...

Sheila said...

Bridget, I do my best to eat local. We're fortunate to have a year-round farmer's market here, although the pickings are scanty in the winter. I still buy more produce from California than I would like, but my husband and I refuse to buy produce imported from other countries.

Randy, glad you liked the post! I've been going to the island for 13 years and each time, I still experience the charm of this rural community and the ways people survive living close to the land and sea ...

Linnie, we don't eat lobster anywhere except Maine. It's too expensive elsewhere and not nearly as fresh ... A beautiful setting makes even the simplest food taste better. Even a plain meal of apple, bread and cheese is a feast eaten outdoors with a scenic view.

Donna, it's hard to eat entirely local - although our ancestors did! Our farmer's market is open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, so that makes it easier. But a lot of the local food at Whole Foods is not organic, so that creates a dilemma for me. Sometimes I opt for local over organic, and sometimes not. When did food get so complicated?!

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Sheila, I am in love with your island. Imagine the memories you made there over the years! I would have to buy from an organization that advertised 'lettuce by land, carrots by sea'. Charming post that carries an important message. P. x