Justine Simon, 30, owner of Salt + Sea, a fish wholesaler that distributes a weekly 1-pound fish share (known as a CSF, for Community Supported Fishery), as well as supplying local restaurants and schools. She works with up to a half-dozen boats and in season, a scallop diver, to bring local, sustainable seafood to about 100 customers from Kittery to Phippsburg.
CAREER ITERATIONS: “Many.” She studied Asian and Middle Eastern studies at Dartmouth College, then moved to New York to pursue journalism. She was steps away from getting a job at NPR in 2008 when the economy crashed. So she went to work for a nonprofit called Brighter Green, writing about the globalization of industrial agricultural systems. She also volunteered at an urban farm and did publicity for Anna Lappé’s book “Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It.”
WHY MAINE: Simon is Canadian but her husband, whom she met at Dartmouth, is from a fourth-generation Maine fishing family (his father runs Atlantic Trawlers Fishing Inc. in Portland) and felt strongly about moving back home. “Very strongly,” Simon laughs.
SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Sharing a supper table with her husband’s family. “I was noticing a really big difference between the kind of fish I was eating with his family and what we could get in the stores.”
WEIRDEST JOB: “I’d say running a fish CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). If you had told me five years ago that I was going to do this I would have thought you were crazy. But I have learned so much, and I believe in the need for it. It is unreal to live in Portland and not be able to get local fresh fish.”
JOB BENEFITS: Eating her product twice a week. Simon loves haddock but relishes whatever the catch is. “I don’t get disappointed when I am cooking pollock.”
FULL SERVICE: Simon gives weekly recipe suggestions to Salt + Sea customers as well as a narrative about where the fish was caught and what the conditions were. It’s not meant to be cute; she’s trying to counter mislabeling in the industry, both about where fish is actually sourced and how it might be treated, say, in chemical baths before going to the marketplace: “There are a lot of half-truths out there, so we’re trying to be transparent.”
PERSONAL STANDARD: If the weather interferes with either the catch or the delivery, Simon isn’t afraid to call it a snow day: “I’d rather cancel a delivery than give people old fish.”
ODD BEDFELLOWS: Salt + Sea drops off its fish shares in Brunswick at The Mix, which houses an art supply store, Maine-made gifts, a pottery kiln and a hair salon. To which we can only say, huh? “The owner, Jill Jacobs, is really good friends with the captain of one of our boats, so she offered.”
FINDING SALT + SEA: The Scarborough-based company is at saltandsea.me, phone (207) 415-9388.