Down East 2013 ©
Portland's Twenty Mile Meal If you want to experience what a twenty mile meal can taste like, Cultivating Community , a Portland organization that works to fight hunger and "empower youth and community" is having a unique event on Sunday, October 4. Dubbed as "Southern Maine's most mouth-water-food-with-a-conscience event" the dinner (featuring foods all grown within twenty miles of Portland) will be cooked by Portland area culinary superstars. To purchase tickets, go to Cutivating Community's Web site  and click on the 20 Miles Meal Link.
Is there any finer time of year? It's harvest time and that means gardens, farmers markets, roadside stands, even some grocery stores are brimming with locally raised food. There is truly no easier time to meet the local food challenge to eat foods grown within twenty miles of your home.
Tomatoes are still on the vine, along with corn to enjoy on the cob or in chowders. Gardens offer all kinds of produce: beets, chard, broccoli, carrots, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, garlic, onions, leeks, potatoes — even several types of lettuce and spinach. And then there's the fruit: apples, grapes, late berries, peaches, and nectarines, all locally grown, bursting with sweet juice. More and more farms throughout the state sell naturally raised lamb, chickens, beef, and pork. And finding farm-fresh eggs has become much easier. Our chickens are still laying, though as the light dwindles and darkness comes at 6:20 p.m. instead of 9:00 p.m. there are fewer and fewer of them every day.
It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to find local Maine foods around this time of year. As movies like Food, Inc.  and writers like Michael Pollan  warn of us of the dangers of eating corporate-raised food, it becomes more crucial than ever to support our local farmers. If you haven't seen Food, Inc., I highly recommend it. It's a scathing, terrifying look at how corporations have taken over the food in this country. I was literally shaking (and weeping at various points) watching this film. It makes you want to hug your local farmer, not to mention demand that your local supermarket buy more from local farmers and fishermen. Supporting Maine local producers has never been more important.
Ironically, local food often costs more than the food you'll find in most supermarkets that's imported from other regions and other countries. I went to a farmers market last week to look for garlic and found gorgeous red-tinged heads for $1.50 a piece. If I want cheap garlic I can buy ten heads for about $5 — grown in China (the country, not the town in Maine) — at a local big box store. But I'd rather know where my garlic comes from and meet the person who grew it. When it comes to feeding myself and my family I have reached a new level of understanding of how truly crucial it is to stay close to home.