Eat Local and Eat Well…

Folks around here take eating local sustainably produced food seriously and we’re learning more about this daily. Last weekend we took part in a Seafood Dinner hosted by three groups that joined forces to benefit Granite State Fish and Seacoast Local.

Together, the University of New Hampshire Hospitality Management School, Granite State Fish, and Seacoast Local produced a gourmet dinner with a menu straight from the sea. Proceeds benefited Granite State Fish, a group that seeks to bring fishermen, the community, and consumers of seafood together, while encouraging sustainability and ecological responsibility. Proceeds also benefited Seacoast Local, an organization that educates local residents about the benefits of buying local and increasing community involvement in our area. The university’s Hospitality Management students organized the dinner, traveled to the docks to select fresh shrimp, oysters and fish, and helped cook and serve the dinner.

From oysters on the half, to vodka cured cod, winter squash soup with poached lobster, and the creative centerpiece on each table filled with edible pickled vegetables, we enjoyed every course down to the rich French press coffee that followed the gourmet meal. How divine.

Sprinkled throughout the room were invited area celebrity chefs, local fishermen, and UNH fishery researchers. At our table was Erik Chapman, Fisheries Program Coordinator at the University of New Hampshire. Erik engaged us by explaining the problems the local fishermen face, challenges in protecting the marine ecosystem, and hopes for developing local markets for local seafood harvest. We felt a bit of a kinship with Erik as he earned his Ph.D. in oceanography from Old Dominion University, almost in our Virginia backyard. (He said one indelible memory of Virginia is the glorious crape myrtle tree that blooms for over 3 months!)

Area restaurants take seriously Seacoast Local‘s urging to buy local. Signs like this are commonly seen on tables, menus, easels, or windows, listing the area farms where their sustainably produced foods are purchased. Organizations like Seacoast Local, Granite State Fish, Seacoast Eat Local, and others have done a good job in getting the message out there.

I’m getting used to seeing signs showing the area farms where restaurants purchase their foods, but occasionally we see window signs that make us do a double take.  I don’t think you’d never see something like this in Virginia restaurant window but this one made me smile, then go in for a meal of pancakes with Maine blueberries and local maple syrup!

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