Maine: Number Two on the Local List

As outdoor farmers markets around Maine start creeping their way back to their summer schedules, I notice Strolling of the Heifers’ annual Locavore Index lists Vermont as the number one place to eat local. Second place? Maine.

Vermont is lovely. But that state can suck it.

Sure, if Vermont showed up at a party, I’d hang out with it. I’d ask about its early adoption of marriage equality and its solar panel fields and maybe, if I’d had enough to drink, I’d sheepishly ask what Ben and/or Jerry are really like. But, I might also get a little twitchy when its oh-so-superior maple syrup comes to the table with its best friend Lawson the fabulous microbrew.

We have delicious maple syrup in Maine and we have fantastic microbrews and we have lobster. I don’t really drink beer, which will bode well for when I become a gluten-free vegan (I’m not doing that), so I can’t really list the best Maine beers here—help yourself to the comment section below if you want to give a shout out to your favorite.

I’ve enjoyed all the things one does in Vermont like ice skating and showshoeing and sledding (but no skiing, oddly, except a quick trip to Okemo when I was in my early 20s) and we went to the lake for some swimming and we went to a farmers market, which was more like a festival than a place to buy produce, but whatever.

Vermont is terrible, what with its beautiful rolling hills and perfect dairy farms and really sweet people and its fully secured sense of self. But, now, it’s listed as the number one best place to eat local? For the third year in a row? And it blows every other state out of the water.

Components of the index include farmers markets, community-supported agriculture (CSAs), farm-to-school programs, and food hubs, which are facilities that distribute and market from a group of farms and food producers in a specific region. It’s a weighted scored, based on population and percentage of the components of the index.

That reads like mumbo-jumbo. This might explain it better: Vermont has approximately 600,000 residents but has 12 food hubs and 143 CSAs. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s a whole bunch of goodness. Stupid Vermont.

Maine proudly takes home the silver. With a population of 1.3 million, Maine has only 133 CSAs and 3 food hubs (whaat?). Most impressively, however, Maine is listed as having 85% of its school districts using farm-to-school programs. Here’s a sweet article about what they’re doing in New Sweden.

I initially wrote that Maine takes Number Two, by the way, but you can see where that statement might lead to some problems in my adolescent mind. If I could have worked the word “duty” into the sentence, my internal fourth grader would have packed up its things and called it a day.

This is what I think of Vermont when I think of Vermont. I was in Warren for New Year’s Eve a while back to visit some good friends who moved there from Maine (another reason to hate Vermont). We stood around a bonfire in the snow before making our way to what felt like an A-List party in Prickly Mountain, a community of funky houses designed in the Yestermorrow school of thought (of course you have this community, Vermont).

The place was flowing with cocktails, and full of tables with oysters and seafood and roast beef. The house was big. The house was fancy. The people were older and clearly established within the community. I took off my coat, the record skipped, and I realized we weren’t actually invited to the party.

Our group scattered. We didn’t leave–we scattered amongst the crowd. One friend took to the oyster table like Dan Ackroyd in a Santa suit. A couple friends immediately slunked into a couch by a window in the corner. I went to one of a handful of bars set up around the open floor plan. (It really was a spectacular house and I’m sorry I don’t know enough about architecture to describe it to you.)

Oddly, the place was silent. Muted music over hushed conversations, but there had to have been at least 50-75 partiers standing in small social circles. I got into an awkward conversation with some people who are acquainted with friends of mine in New York and who had moved to the area from New York themselves to homeschool their children (oh, Vermont).

Suddenly, I heard Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” over the muffled stereo. My friend Chicky, in his Bean boots and second-hand suit and tie, jumped up and started dancing. Nobody moved. Check out the picture (taken by the talented Tanja Hollander) at the bottom of this post. Look at the jackoffs behind him just staring at him.

Of course Vermont is the number one place to eat local. It’s precious and pristine and healthy and organic. All the things I’m trying to be and none of the things I really want to be.

I’ll be spending my money at the Number Two farmers markets and CSAs and CSFs—oh, what’s that Vermont? You don’t have Community Sustained Fisheries because you’re a land-locked state? Oh.

Congratulations, Maine, you dirty little silver bastard. Vermont can suck it.


Thank you, Hollander, for capturing this moment


Sarah Devlin

About Sarah Devlin

Sarah Devlin has been writing about the recreational industry since the late ’90s but ironically can’t run, swim, or bike a mile.