Farms, forests supported at food event

Posted Oct. 21, 2011, at 10:42 p.m.

NORTHPORT — When the food lovers, art aficionados and nature supporters meet at the third annual Art of Local Food party Sunday, Oct. 30, they will have the chance to dine on many delicacies, including cheese made by the State of Maine Cheese company of Rockport.

Owner Cathe Morrill said that cheese making is both an art and a science. “It’s complex and intriguing and exciting,” she said.

Good cheese, she said, is also dependent on some of the same things that make Maine so special. She said that the company chooses to participate in the party, which is a fundraiser for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, for two reasons. “It’s showcasing the fabulous local foods that are available in Maine, which is phenomenal in and of itself,” Morrill said of the event. “Secondly, without natural resources — good clean air, good clean water, good clean land — we wouldn’t be able to have local food. It’s a win-win idea on all sorts of levels.”

In addition to the offerings of local cheesemakers, the event will feature food made by top area chefs from the best local ingredients, local wines, beer and cocktails, artwork by 50 Maine artists, live music and a great view from the top of Ducktrap Mountain.

Judy Berk of the Natural Resources Council of Maine said that it is fantastic for her organization to be in partnership with so many artists, restaurants, food suppliers and farmers. “The event brings together people from throughout the midcoast and beyond, who care about the environment and appreciate good food and good art,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

Participating restaurants include Amalfi on the Water, Atlantica, In Good Company, Lily Bistro and Darby’s.

Jerry Savitz, the owner of Darby’s in Belfast, said that his interest in local food goes way back to when his own family was involved in the area’s agriculture and food industries years ago. “I’ve always been supportive of agriculture in this area,” he said. “I think it adds a tremendous amount to the economy. And for the restaurant, anything local is more attractive than something you bring in.” He said that local food, which was harvested at the peak of ripeness, is much more delicious than something that was shipped 3,000 miles. “You really notice a difference when you taste it.”

For the party, he’s preparing chicken liver pate made with local ingredients and topped off with Calvados, standard brandy or Grand Marnier. It’ll be delicious, he said.

Farmer John Barnstein of Maine-ly Poultry in Warren also thinks that locally, naturally raised chickens such as his taste much better than the other kind. Instead of being raised full of antibiotics, irradiated and then packed in a 3 percent salt solution, his chickens are grown in a well-ventilated barn and fed grain that’s supplemented with essential oils made from oregano, chili and broccoli. The oils are a natural way to keep chickens from getting sick, Barnstein said. And although his chickens cost more than other birds, he thinks it’s worth it. “My theory is that you can pay now or you can pay later,” with health problems, he said. “I think it pays to eat good food.”

Barnstein, who has been raising chickens for 25 years, said that he looks at Maine as one of the prototypes for the local food movement. Farmers markets have grown substantially here over the last five years even with the bad economy and now number more than 100 across the state.

“I would be willing to bet that Maine leads the nation in local food support,” he said. “I think that it’s all due to events like this and the local co-ops that support local farmers.”

The Art of Local Food will be held 4:30-6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Summit at Point Lookout in Northport. Tickets are $40 per person, with proceeds used to support the Natural Resources Council of Maine. For more information, call 430-0128 or visit http://www.nrcm.org.

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