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!

 

Customer Kudos and Squash Facts

Chef David Turin works with studentsCustomers' in the News:

On November 8, Native Maine was proud to sponsor SMCC’s A Light on the Point celebration.  Featuring renowned chefs from Central Provisions, David’s, Evo, Lolita, Piccolo, Sur Lie and UNION partnering with SMCC students and faculty, the lucky guests enjoyed an unparalleled evening of food and drink. This annual event celebrates the many partners who help Southern Maine Community College students earn college degrees, join the workforce, and become community leaders. This year the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Casco Bay Association was honored for its long-time support of the SMCC culinary students.  A Light on the Point raised more than $50,000 in support of SMCC students and Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs.  

On November 9, Dimillo’s on the Waterfront hosted a benefit dinner designed to help end child hunger in Maine. Chef Melissa Bouchard presented an inspired, six course bourbon & beer-themed dinner to support Full Plates, Full Potential, a non-profit dedicated to ending childhood hunger.  Native Maine was privileged to purchase a table to support this great cause.

Holiday Spectaculars Coming up:

Native Maine is excited to sponsor the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s annual winter spectacular, Gardens Aglow!  Located in Boothbay Harbor,  the Botanical Garden hosts the largest light show in Maine from November 17-December 31.  Hundreds of thousands of lights are strung through their upper gardens in a stunning display.  In addition to dramatic lighting, visitors can enjoy special food and beverage options in the Kitchen Garden Café and holiday shopping in the Gardens Gift Shop. Grab a friend, enjoy appetizers or a cocktail, and then experience an enchanting evening of festive lights and displays. http://www.mainegardens.org/calendar-events/gardens-aglow/

Native Maine is also proud to sponsor Nonantum Resort’s 8th Annual Fire & Ice event coming up on December 8 & 9. With blazing bonfires, ice bars and sculptures, local food, and live music, Fire & Ice is the perfect ending to Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude! Event proceeds benefit the Education Foundation of the Kennebunks as well as the Arundel and Kennebunkport Emergency Medical Services. Check it out at://www.eventbrite.com/e/fire-ice-2017-tickets-

Vegetable Lore

As you know, Thanksgiving is this week; I figured we should celebrate a vegetable native to the Americas and currently in season: SQUASH!  Wait, don’t stop reading!  Winter squash has an interesting place in our history.  Most of the world’s winter squashes are native to the Americas; there is evidence of its cultivation going back to at least 8,000 B.C in Central Mexico, Peru, and the Eastern United States!  Squash, along with dried beans and corn, is a member of the “Three Sisters”; the term Native American farmers gave to the classic form of mixed cropping where plants grow together in a supportive, symbiotic relationship.

The word squash comes from the Narragansett indian word“askutasquash”, which translates to “eaten raw or uncooked.” If you don’t like squash, you are not alone. Narragansett Indians served the hungry pilgrims a chowder of seafood and squash; the finicky Pilgrims didn’t eat it. Instead, after the Indians left, the Pilgrims fed the chowder to their pigs! The pilgrims changed their minds about squash once the long, cold winter set in and they faced starvation; squash soon became a staple of their diet.

More squash facts:

  • Virtually, the entire squash plant is edible. The leaves, tendrils, shoots, stems, flowers, seeds, and fruit can be eaten.
  • In 2011, the U.S. ranked 4th in the world in squash production, growing 743.8 million pounds of squash for fair market valued at 283 million dollars.
  • The U.S. is actually the world's largest importer of squash; we imported more than 270,000 metric tons of squash in 2011 (95% of this from Mexico).
  • The world’s largest hubbard squash was grown in,Ontario, Canada; weighing in at 674.3kg, or 1,486.6lbs; this giant smashed the previous record by over 100kg.
  • Winter squash is delicious! If you’ve only experienced it as a watery, bland puree, a whole world of roasted, sauteed, shredded, and “squoddled” squash awaits; try the recipe below!

Cook This!
Caramelized Acorn Squash

  • 2 beautiful Native Maine  acorn squash, halved and seeds and interior pulp removed.
  • 2 tablespoons Marconi olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Native Maine Brand Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Coarse Maine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper or any ground or flake hot pepper in your pantry. (My favorite is Aleppo pepper)

Put Place oven rack on lowest setting; preheat to 400 degrees.
Place sheet pan in oven to heat.
Wash squash; no need to peel!  Cut squash into half and remove seeds. Cut halves into 1” wedges and place in large bowl.
Toss squash with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and hot.  Make sure each slice is well coated.
Remove hot sheet pan from oven. Carefully place squash slices on pan in a single layer.  Don’t crowd the slices.
Roast 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn each squash slice over; at the same time move the exterior slices in the interior of the pan and vice versa to ensure even browning and caramelization.
Cook for 10 minutes more or until squash slices are cooked through. Eat the squash, peel and all. Yum!

Everyone at Native Maine wishes you and yours
a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy the squash!

 

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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