Eat Local, Smart Cookies, and Seaweed!

Greetings Local Lorers!  Slowly, but surely, mid-winter is coming to an end!  The sun is up at 6am and sets after 5:30pm!  Wow, Spring will be here before....well, okay...let's not get carried away.  Winter will be with us for a while to come.

This in between season is the time for farmer and local foods conferences.  Last Friday, the Maine Farm to Institution Summit took place at the University of Maine campus in Belfast. Native Maine is super proud that we were a sponsor of this important event. Maine Farm to Institution (MEFTI) supports developing the supply of and increasing the consumption of Maine-grown food in Maine institutions in order to give more people access to healthy, local foods while also strengthening our local economy. 

The summit brought together over 200 people from different sectors including public schools, hospitals, farmers, fishermen, educators, college students, non-profits, government agencies, and distributors. Speaker panels and workshops were held throughout the day to strategize getting more Maine foods onto Maine plates. Sessions ranged from Meeting Your Farmer to Leveraging Food Waste Prevention.

One of my favorites was a panel discussion called “Setting Up Your Kitchens for Local Procurement and Processing”. Two school food directors and the food director at the Charleston Correctional Facility talked about the successes and perils of bringing more scratch cooking and local foods into their kitchens. It was informative and fun! The summit helped all participants see and feel the power of working together to achieve goals,

 SMCC Culinary Students are Wicked Smart!
Quick, name four of the five ingredients in Chinese five-spice powder. What term describes the meat from the cheek of a hog? What mushroom has a crunchy texture, an almost fruity flavor and is also known as a snow puff mushroom?

Five SMCC culinary students, Avery Anderson, Taylor Feehan, Mark Kurkjy, Jim LeBlanc and Nancy Piche, will answer similar questions when they compete in an upcoming “Jeopardy”-style competition testing their culinary knowledge. SMCC faculty chose these students based on their knowledge, skills and leadership in the classroom

The Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl will take place at the American Culinary Federation’s regional conference in Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 26-27. A dozen teams (nine from the Northeast region and three from the Southeast) of culinary students will compete. Regional winners will go on to the national competition in New Orleans this summer.

Besides taking part in the Knowledge Bowl, students will hear from guest speakers, take part in workshops and have a chance to meet chefs from along the entire East Coast at networking events, said Kurkjy, the team’s captain. “I am extremely competitive, so just the opportunity to compete in the competition is a big draw for me,” he said

The entire student team is currently employed in the food industry. Each of the students are fund raising by reaching out to their employers and holding a number of on campus fundraisers that highlight their skills in the kitchen. If you would like to donate to the SMCC team, please contact Maureen LaSalle, Culinary Arts Chair at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Oh yeah, and if you’re curious, the answers to the above questions are cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and Szechuan pepper; jowl (or guanciale); and an enokitake mushroom.

Native Maine Approves of Ocean Approved!!
We are happy to announce that we are partnering with Ocean Approved Seaweed to offer our customers unique kelp products at value-oriented prices. Ocean Approved creates delicious and mild tasting kelp products with just a hint of ocean with no additives or dyes. All their products are naturally a vibrant green and ready to serve right out of the package. Everything is cut, blanched, and then quick frozen. All you have to do is thaw and serve or add right to a hot dish.

Farming kelp sustainably creates a highly nutritious vegetable without using arable farmland, fresh water, pesticides, or fertilizers. Ocean Approved harvests kelp not only from their own farms, but the farms of 9 other fisherman along the Maine coast. Their fresh frozen products are produced locally in a new 8,000 sqft. state of the art facility.  Native Maine stocks:
KELC-Kelp Cubes LOCAL 12x12 (144ct)
Move Over Kale, now you can supercharge your Smoothie with Maine's Own Kelp Cubes™. They have a mild, fresh flavor. They are easy to use and will not overpower the flavors of your smoothie - simply add 1 cube per serving to your blender and puree with other ingredients. The cubes are designed with portion and cost control in mind and work well in a broad spectrum of recipes.
KELSC-Kelp Slaw Cut LOCAL 10#
Mild in flavor, vibrant color, and a just right texture. Easy to use in sautés, salads, pesto's, sandwiches, pizzas, even desserts. Simply thaw, drain, and add to your hot or cold dish. Maine Kelp is the new, better tasting kale.
SEASALL-Salad Seaweed LOCAL 4x2.2#
SEASALLB- Salad Seaweed LOCAL 2.2#
Made with Maine kelp, carrots, honey, ginger, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and spices, Maine's own Seaweed Salad is 100% natural.

Cook This!

1 Ocean Approved kelp cube
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
½ cup + 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
1 Tbsp. mint
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. lime juice, fresh
Add all ingredients to a blender; puree until smooth. Drink and feel healthy! Delicous!

Eat your kelp, donate to the SMCC team, and support your local farms!  

A Goal Met, Food Research and Cold Comfort

 

I hope your New Year is starting off right!  Keep up with those resolutions!!

 And speaking of resolutions, about 2 years ago Sodexo was awarded the food service contract for our University of Maine school system. Part of the contract was the stipulation for 20% local food purchases by 2020. In order to achieve this, Sodexo created the Maine Course program that established an advisory board consisting of farmers, distributors, and other players in the local food scene. Sodexo stayed focused on that important goal; and, in 2017, not only beat the goal coming in at 23% local foods but did it 2 years early!!! Wow! Talk about commitment and follow through. If only we had the same determination with our resolutions!

Native Mainers were out and about this week! I attended the Pathway to the Plate event at King Middle school in Portland. 7th graders were tasked with figuring out where some of the foods that they eat in their cafeteria come from and how they get onto their plates. I went into the school and spoke to a very enthusiastic group researching carrots, bananas, tomatoes, and apples; so many questions! It was great! This Thursday the same students presented their research and findings in front of students, family, and invited guests. I was so impressed. The presentations were well thought out and informative; the students even did cost benefit analysis to determine if the school were purchasing foods competitively. Wow! Kudos to the students and teachers at King Middle!

Local in Winter: it’s impossible to eat locally as we approach the dead of winter, right? Wrong; we have loads of local options available at Native Maine during the coldest months! Meats, cheeses, dried beans and grains, leafy greens, mushrooms, apples, root veggie abound. And don’t forget all the local food manufacturers in Maine. Winter is a great time to check out Hurricane and Kamasouptra Soups, Blue Mango veggie burgers, Vintage potato chips, or Izzy’s cheesecakes. These are all great products your customers will love made right here in Maine!

And speaking of cold….
Colds are prevalent this time of year. Be sure to wash your hands, rest when you can, and try this yummy ginger-lemon tea to open up your sinuses, soothe your throat, and warm you up inside. Of course, you can always add a shot (or two) of bourbon to really make your troubles go away, but this tea is delicious on its own. We often have a big pot of it brewing on the stove at Native Maine.

For One Serving:

  • 1-inch fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup water (boiling)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed or Orchid Island
  • To taste, Native Maine brand local honey

How to Make it:

  • Grate or finely mince the ginger. Put into a large cup
  • Pour 1 cup boiling water over the ginger and let it steep for 3 minutes
  • Add lemon juice and honey to taste. Breathe deep, taste, enjoy!

Merry and Meaty Holidays!

landry jeffNothing says “Season’s Greetings” like meat!! Think about it; whether you celebrate your holiday with roast goose or brisket, glazed ham or standing rib roast, usually there’s a large format animal protein at the centerpiece of your holiday table. And, yes, Tofurkeys count too!

In our holiday edition of “Get to Know Your Native Mainer” I interview one half of Native Maine’s Team Meat, Chef Jeff Landry!
Hi, Jeff! Welcome welcome.
Thanks, Jeff.  First question: Have you ever been to Round Pond? Why, yes, I’ve been several times! I’ve been to the Anchor Inn Restaurant out there….had lunch there it was delicious. Round Pond is one of my favorite places in Maine.
Fabulous! What’s your job title?
Protein buyer
How long have you worked at Native Maine?
4 years, 4 glorious years
How would you describe your job...to a child?
Oh wait, we need to pause so Jeff can answer a protein buyer question for our Operations Director, Ed Dibiase. Ed says an important part of Jeff’s job description is running down into the warehouse to  holler...!
Well, explaining my job to a child is like explaining it to the guys in the warehouse sometimes!  Okay, seriously, how would I describe my job to the layperson…well, there are several components: Purchasing of product that is already in the marketplace...like conventional items, already processed and customer ready. Then, there’s finding local farmers that want to work with us. I work with them to bring them through the process of working with a distributor, bringing the animal from field to our warehouse. We talk food safety, packaging, cuts, etc. Then, there’s showing all of these great products out to our customers.
What about yelling at the warehouse? Where does that fit in? Ha, funny.
What did you do before you were the protein buyer at Native Maine?
I think the world knows me! I think they know me as THE chef from my many television appearances and radio spots! Yes, yes, Didn’t you have a restaurant: I did. Worked at a few places in Portland? I did. I owned the Farmers Table for 5 years. I ran food operations for Portland Harbor hotel, Cinque Terra, worked at the Harraseekett Inn for a number of years. Had a restaurant earlier in my life in Lewiston called the Seasons Cafe. That’s it! That’s the big ones!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Coffee: that’s the big thing...shaking off the hangover is key!
Seriously, my day starts with looking at email to see what special orders have come in over the course of the evening, then I check inventory levels, finalize orders with vendors.  And then...a couple of games of solitare….
All right! And then you’re done...out of here! Well, then I gotta make lunch for most of the crew….Well, true, there’s that. You do that very well.
If you could switch jobs with someone at Native Maine, would you? Who would it be?
I would switch jobs with Dave because there’s no accountability in his area.  That’s what Kenny said too! Poor Dave!
No, really, I would not switch my job with anyone. I like my job. That’s the truth.
If you could change one thing about working here what would it be?
Well, we're on the way to creating more warehouse space for the meat category. Once that is done I’ll have a pretty darn good job though it might be nice to have more pictures of meat around my desk. Well, that should be easy enough to take care of…..
What do you like most about your job?  The pictures of meat that you’ll be putting up? 
Samples! No, seriously, the ability to get on the road to go and visit accounts.  Get face to face with customers, get product in front of them, see what they think….
What’s your favorite meme that you’ve created at work?
There’s been so many.... maybe too many....
I’m actually afraid to ask you this one...What’s one thing that nobody here at Native Maine knows about you (that we can put into the blog!)
Well, I’ve sung onstage with several bands. I can believe that! What bands? Well, Ruckus. They bring the microphone to me know when I’m in the audience. What songs? Top 3: Fat Bottom Girls, Queen; Creep, Radio Head and Simple Man, Lynrd Skynrd. How come you didn’t sing at our holiday party? No one asked! But team meat is about to initiate a new program; Serenade and Marinade--where we demo proteins to customers while singing to them.
Hmmm...Sounds…interesting.
Is there one thing you want to ask to me….
I wasn’t prepared for that question….Good, I feel like I just dodged a bullet!
Thanks for letting me interview you, Jeff!  Go Team Meat!

A Party, a Potluck, and Warm Tidings
Native Maine employees celebrated the holidays in style at the Doubletree Hotel in South Portland.  We had great music and food, an awesome magician to entertain us, and, of course, a cornhole tournament!  The highlight of the evening was the video montage created by our IT expert Mike Posey celebrating life at Native Maine.  Kudos to Troy Andrews, Sasha Philbrick, Kerri Grayson, Denise Bean, and Mike for creating such a wonderful event!  This Thursday, we'll celebrate again with our second annual Holiday Potluck!  Native Mainers will bring in a dish that they eat during their own holiday celebrations.  Last year's potluck was both yummy and eye opening! 

Everyone at Native Maine wishes you and your family the best of the holiday season! 
Stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy!

 

Local You Know

At Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods we're working hard to connect our customers with the freshest, quality produce & specialty products available. We believe in supporting New England's vibrant and diverse food system by providing locally grown & processed food items alongside some of the world’s best specialty foods sourced from around the globe.

As one of New England’s leading produce wholesale distributors with 3000+ quality items in stock, our 2000+ New England customers have access to local, regional & hard to find specialty foods delivered frequently at very competitive prices. We are your neighbors; we are the Local You Know.

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