High food costs.
It’s not the Maine potato farmer or organic grower making a killing. Not just inflation. All the middle men is where the extra grocery food costs come into play. Your household family food budget. There is no way anyone pushing the wire cart with the one squeaky wheel in their local Piggly Wiggly has not noticed. Grocery store checkout sticker shock. Higher prices and getting less for more. Not the other way around.
When you live in a built up city landscape, you are beat. No matter which market the wholesale food supplier is pulling from in the country, the cost is higher on both ends. Wholesale to retail to the consumer is concerning. And not just the high cost of food but what you are actually buying.
Where did it come from, what was it sprayed with and food safety.
Lots to consider before preparing a meal to put on your family supper table.
When you are raised in rural Maine, frugal simple meals are the norm.
Easy does it applies. But meat and potatoes simple does not mean the taste needs to be forgotten. The way the food is put together with love and attention and a creative spirit and the seasoning can all transform the simplest of meals. Welcome to the Maine country kitchen. Here’s an apron to tie on.
Fresh produce out of your Maine garden or farm field to can, preserve and stored to be drawn from your root cellar or food pantry.
That is the corner stone of wholesome, healthy and tasty. But what if you have no garden, do not have local farm producers to buy your home grown food to place on the family table? Then eating right when it’s from a grocery store outlet is going to be even more expensive these days.
This image from potato picking in Northern Maine over the weekend.
Potato harvesters on Maine farms leave a lot of spuds behind.
I grew up and own the Maine potato farm where my youth was spent. Potato harvesters cover a lot of acreage in a short period of time. But they leave a lot of spuds behind. All the wind rowers and mechanical handling can also ding or dent the delicate skin of a Maine potato. Some potato varieties more susceptible to abrasion than others and tender skinned.
Hand picked potato field workers do the best job leaving nothing behind on the Maine farm.
Less handling or bruising or scrapes! It is all about The Maine potato farm fields that are harvest mean let’s go gleaning!
More on that a little later in this blog post. First things first. Back to high food costs and trips in and out of the automatic doors at your local Maine grocery. Convenience items, time saving but they have always been expensive.
Reaching for that five pound lasagna pan in the cooler case does not come cheap. Loaded with sodium but voila, quick and easy. Once warmed up, dinner is served.
It seems regardless of grocery store prices high low or in the middle, you have to plan your week’s meals. Searching for simple, delicious, affordable recipes starts with your family members. My mom had lots of cookbooks. Some of the best ones in print were from church groups where many cooks submit their collective piece de resistance.
Enjoying the home cooked meals that you had a hand in creating helps the Maine household meal time creativity.
This blogger does live in Maine and has access to farm to table locally grown produce, Locals can glean farm fields and harvest the bounty of what is left by potato harvesters.
On a Maine farm I own Russian banana, French fingerlings, amarosa, all blue and more potato varieties are free for the taking.
It’s help yourself but be aware as temperatures dip and exposure to the sun will only lessen the quality of your farm field gleaning.
Being out in the fall air surrounded by tree leaf explosion of colors only adds to the joy of farm vegetable gleaning. Stay tuned because red and golden beets, turnips and rutabaga are next up. Looking up recipes on all the ways to create tasty low cost fresh not heated up frozen meals. Maine potato picking … wonderful experience, totally awesome taste, a lesson in working outdoors doing manual labor.
High grocery store prices have stirred a desire to find healthy alternatives and people are discovering the joy of cooking in Maine.
Field gleaning these organic vegetables creates a small window of opportunity to help yourself.
Whatever you do glean is served up hot and ready fresh for the family table. But canning, preserving, freezing for future meals has to happen to extend the good tasting food budget savings. No grocery October is practiced by many in Maine agriculture regions. Those lucky enough to live near farms take a break from the automatic doors and Muzak up and down the store aisles.
Instead, gleaning fields, collecting apples, hunting for game. Pheasant, deer, black bear, moose gets to play along in the grocery cost meal planning savings. Making cider, apple sauce, pies and milling grain to weave into baked goods. It’s all around you in rural Maine. And those lucky enough to live close to the sea, hoist up other local, close to home meal time savings.
Fish, clams, mussels, lobster all get to take a turn being the star of the Maine family meal table.
So ho hum about what gets served at your house at meal time?
Want to ease away from $200 plus weekly grocery store bills? Local farm to table in Maine locations offers many advantages. Plus you know what you are eating, where it came from and the peace of mind that no chemicals were used.
Where I live, there is a local dairy too, a vibrant farmers market to shop. We Mainers tackle the high cost of fossil fuels by heading to the woodlot. Heating our homes with hardwood cords of fuel is good exercise. Are these options for simpler living available where you live?
Used to be go in three weeks early. Then three weeks off from school to pick Maine potatoes.
Everyone took part in the Maine potato harvest whether you grew up on a family farm or not. The smallest child just as important as the oldest in the potato picking fall harvest tradition. Getting up early, going to bed early and wearing layers of clothes. Because there might have been a frost this morning. But by noon time, stripped to your t-shirt and the sun hot overhead as you pick baskets of potatoes. To pour into the cedar or plywood barrels.
Four baskets per barrel that weigh 165 pounds.
The pickers take a section, a length of potato field that is your job to keep picked up as the digger pulled by a farm tractor squeaks by row by row. You don’t want to be “caught up” and waiting for the digger to unearth more spuds. But you are out here to make some money and stay productive. The trick is to take a section from here to there that you can complete just as the digger makes another pass.
Getting behind, row by row happens in the Maine potato farm field.
Too big a section, or ran out of barrels to fill to stay caught up. No one leaves the field until everyone is picked up, all the potato sections in the field are caught up and ready for the next day.
No one will be left in the field when it’s pitch black still picking.
No one can head for home until every potato picker is caught up. Here’s a video of what happens on the other end… when the potatoes leave the Maine farm field and get deposited in the potato house.
Your lunch prepared in the early morning with lots of energy snacks.
Fresh air, hard physical labor as the leaves change color to red, orange, yellow, brown and a million shades of green. Food takes extra good. Hunger improves the taste. When you do run out of barrels and as you slowly get behind, that’s the time to pivot. To make good use of your time.
Head to the woods to go to the bathroom. Time to have an early or late lunch. Or pick the potato tops off your section so when you do get barrels, you can fill those baskets quicker.
Your full barrel of potatoes marked with a numbered ticket.
To show this is my barrel, I earned the money for this one. A Maine potato farm truck with flat staked body on the back cruises the field picking up full barrels. Taking full trucks of 50 or more barrels to the potato storage facility.
Watch the video on Maine potato picking in Sherman.
Work ethic, responsibility to show up, to work around the weather that you can not control. Earning the money to buy school clothes, to save for college, to buy something you really want that Mom and Dad encourage you to go for it. Work hard, save and don’t let the money sift through your fingers. And take better care of whatever you do buy.
Years ago, when you moved out of state, and raised your hand when asked “who is from Maine?”
There is healthy discrimination. The good kind where you hail from Maine, picking potatoes as a kid growing up in rural areas of the state. You are hired because you knew how to work, like to do a good job without complaining. You show up and pitch in, are dependable. Pride in your labor and enjoyment from the outdoor work in the potato field all absorb in your entry level job learning curve.
No matter how old or young, everyone picked in the potato field.
All were needed to get the crop out and into potato house storage. To load up and ship down the road to out of state markets. Skills were learned in the potato field and lazy was not one of them. Work hard, pick them clean and don’t miss any.
The more you pick, the more you make and it becomes a field competition.
My personal best was 88 barrels and was paid 25 cents for each with my ticket slid in the crack on the top.
Those barrels in every other row for the truck to hoist and deliver to the dark potato bin miles away.
My four kids all picked potatoes and it was by far the best experience any of them ever had.
Your first job, your development of work ethic and gotta have a system out in the field was invaluable. My kids learned you don’t buy it if it is not worth it.
They know how hard a dollar is to earn and make sure to get value or wait. Keeping looking until you find some worth four, six or more barrels of potatoes that took to earn it.
Local Maine apples are ripe, ready and all they need is you to pick them.
Beat the high cost of Maine grocery store food items!
Make into apple cider that is freshly squeezed. Instead of reaching for a quart of orange juice from concentrate for $7.99. Make the effort. The fruits of your labor can be fun and tasty and wholesome.
Switch it up from OJ to Johnny Appleseed nutritious Maine wild fruit of all kinds when you are lucky enough to live, work, play in Maine.