Spring 2017 Letter From the Editor
Living in an upside-down world, as many of us have been since last November, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this year March came in like a lamb and began its lion’s roar around mid-month. So I’m writing this letter on a 28° March day, looking out on a landscape of snow and ice where a week ago there were early— admittedly too early—buds. By the time this issue is in your hands, though, winter should be a memory and we can focus on renewal, rebirth and the annual reopening of Fenway Park (yes, Connecticut readers, you, too…).
New England is a special region, with multiple mountain ranges, miles of shoreline and fertile fields in between. Despite often-harsh weather, our legendary Yankee ingenuity has helped residents capitalize on the natural bounty of land and sea for nearly two-and-a-half centuries.
But just as the six New England states support each other, we are inextricably linked to those beyond our northeastern borders. As a Congresswoman from Maine, Chellie Pingree’s first responsibility is to her constituents, but as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for the Farm Bill, the organic farmer brings 40 years of passion and experience to bear in shaping policy that will affect the entire country. As you will see in our Q&A, everyone should benefit from her influence. A profile of Chuck Ross, who recently left his position as Vermont’s secretary of agriculture, digs into the history of this eighth-generation farmer who has worked with his counterparts from every state, making food safety and the Farm Bill priorities. In Massachusetts, we look at a program offered by Lovin’ Spoonfuls that offers chef-led cooking classes to the recipients of the food it rescues and distributes. We also examine what the state’s ballot question regarding farm animal containment will mean when it goes into effect. And we clear up confusion around food labeling, explaining what some of the most commonly used labels actually mean.
Seaweed is being hailed as the next “super food,” both for its nutritional value and its flavor. Growing it is a burgeoning industry, and more sustainable than harvesting the wild stuff. At a farm about halfway up the coast of Maine, two men are applying their Yankee ingenuity to the cultivation of edible kelp. About an hour and a half south sits the region’s only herbal tea plantation. At Karnak Farm, in Saco, the founder of MEM Tea grows elderberry and chamomile bushes, then dries the flowers and ferments them to be steeped to make into fragrant beverages that are used by some as homeopathic remedies. Throughout all six states, a growing number of fast-casual restaurants rely on neighboring farms to supply their produce, a relationship that benefits every link in their intimate food chain. We take you to a sampling of these businesses.
As always, we end with a trip, this season to Mystic and Stonington, Connecticut. These days, we could all use an escape. And why not keep it close to home, where we can appreciate how lucky we are to live in this part of the world? As an added bonus, we can support the local food, drink, craft and lodging industries.