This week’s list and email are going out to a bunch of new subscribers – some who found us all on their own (good work!) and others who we are reaching out to as part of Maine Restaurant Week. I’m not generally a fan of heavily marketed events, but I do love events that are geographically dispersed across the state. I’m waiting for the listing of restaurants in the northern reaches to be on this bill of goods…and since our warehouse is in Vassalboro you can bet I’m going to try out the pub in Oakland even though a sports bar isn’t my usual thing. To be honest, with 3 kids under 6, restaurants in general aren’t my usual thing. We all need an excuse to break out of our winter holding (or holed-up) patterns. Maine Restaurant Week is one good one.
Maine’s sense of place has been the topic of many conversations in the last several weeks (or centuries, really, but who’s counting?). Sense of place both in the concept of regional terroir, strategic food planning, marketing Maine outside our borders, and increasingly, defining Maine to/with Mainers so we can better our economy by capitalizing on our strengths rather than compromising our quality of life and environment.
The Mobilize Maine initiative is one state-wide effort to tackle this approach. Their concepts of economic development revolve around Maine’s Quality of Place as the key advantage to reversing the trend of population & innovation loss in the 18-55 year old category. This will certainly come as no surprise to anyone reading our emails. What surprised me, however, was reading Kennebec Valley Council of Government’s Winter Report specifically and enthusiastically recommending farming and food related enterprise as one of the few ‘explosive growth areas’ in the region. Again, not a big surprise except when we remember that this isn’t exactly the MOF&G. The message is broadening. What we’re doing at Crown O’Maine and what the network of farmers and food producers across the state are doing is becoming one of the key drivers in Maine’s economic future. Quality of Place and in-migration of young people.
Each of these successes and grand realizations is coupled with our humble daily grind as food producers and business people. As a young person returning to Maine after college I lived without electricity for two years. I wasn’t after a high paying job. I did miss the coffee found elsewhere, though. So we took to grinding our beans daily in an antique sausage hand-crank set on a coarse setting with a butterfly clamp. No driving to get high-quality joe. No driving to get to the high paying job. No shortage of quality morning coffee with which to compile the early transformation of Crown O’Maine.
We can get here from there. Make your own food at home. Celebrate our small gains and systemic changes this week at a local restaurant. Send in your orders.