Last weekend, I saw the future of Maine agriculture…young farmers and their families, sustainably cultivating the soil, growing crops, and raising livestock.
This weekend I’m seeing the faces of the consumer at the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor.
There were hundreds of folks sampling their way through the Bangor auditorium and civic center yesterday….babies in carriages, grandmothers, young couples with families in tow, teenagers, silver-haired folks with canes, teachers, workers, truck drivers, doctors, retirees,….all sorts of folks…folks from downeast in Washington county, folks from Waterville, the western mountains, the county….communities all over Maine…and they descended upon us…all eager to learn what Maine farmers have to offer…and where they can get it all.
In the morning, we did a cooking demonstration with some of these Maine products…Aroostook county wheat, MOO milk butter, Raye’s mustard, Kinney’s organic maple syrup, Tolman sweet apples from Unity, sea scallops from Stonington, Sonnetal Dairy cheese, and of course, our organic tomato sauce.
We baked pizza after pizza…French Acadian chocolate cake, Emily’s Taco Salsa….dessert pizzas spread with organic Maine jams…and folks ate, and they listened….and they wanted to know where their food came from.
Who grew it? How was it produced? What does eating food from Maine mean? We had many discussions about the management of our food system – how we grow, package, transport and distribute our food.
People are starting to recognize that our food system influences more than just our next meal. The way we produce our food has radically changed in the past 50 years, and decisions being made in food production and agriculture are intricately connected to the public health, development, environmental quality and economic vitality of our communities.
The current industrial food system alters our soil and water with pesticides and weed killers, changes the nature of the plants and animals we eat through genetic engineering, and damages the ocean floor and alters ecosystems by dragging with mile-long fishing nets.
And when folks asked what they could do to change this…we told them. Eat more Maine food. Support your local farmers and communities. Ask for Maine food at your supermarkets. Read the labels. Understand what you are eating.
We can change things. We can rebuild our food system. We can feed our families healthy food and protect the environment. We can build factories that process Maine food. We can create more jobs. It’s not too late to change the world.
We can do all this and more….one bite at a time! More Maine food on Maine plates!