Seventy-five percent of Maine consumers would willingly pay more for sustainably harvested food according to an ongoing study by researchers in the University of Maine School of Economics. In the case of seafood caught in Maine waters, 30 percent said they might be willing to pay more. But often, especially in the case of seafood, confusion about its sources stymies consumers from making informed choices, researchers found.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 Maine citizens this spring as part of a Maine Sea Grant research project called Seafood Links. The goal was to study consumer perceptions of seafood and learn more about how Maine businesses source their seafood.

According to Caroline Noblet, and assistant professor of economics at UMaine who collaborated on the research with Teresa Johnson, associate professor of marine policy, Mainers do care where their food comes from, and they might have preferences for choosing local fish. But restaurant owners surveyed said tourists are far more likely to ask about where seafood comes from than locals.

Interviews with chefs and restaurant owners at 15 restaurants in Bangor and Portland suggest a substantial gap between how the inland and coastal cities represent seafood to customers. While Bangor restaurants say they have ready access to local eggs, cheese, milk and beef, chefs there referred to the city as “the end of the food line” when it comes to seafood.

But in Portland, many of the restaurant owners and chefs purchased seafood directly from fishermen or have formed partnerships with suppliers.

Part of the problem, according to researcher Laura Lindenfeld, a former UMaine professor, is with seafood labeling. In some cases, Maine-caught seafood is processed in Massachusetts, and thus labeled as a product of Massachusetts.

“It makes it confusing,” Lindenfeld was quoted as saying in the release. One potential solution identified by the researchers is a business that would distribute seafood from the coast to inland cities and towns like Bangor – an idea restaurant owners say they would welcome.

“We really want to help chefs in Maine’s inland areas, especially, know what kinds of incredible resources there are, and help them make better choices about what seafood they source, where they source, and know that these alternative sources are really wonderful options,” Lindenfeld said.

Root maggots! Flea beetles!

Maine is being bugged

It’s springtime, almost summer, meaning its time again for the often charming field records from the USDA’s weekly Crop Progress & Condition report. Around New England in the week ending June 5, as farmers cut hay, weeded, planted and fertilized, they also noticed, noted and contended with pests. Here’s a list of creepy, crawly things from that report: plum curculio, striped cucumber beetles, root maggots, three-lined potato beetles, Colorado potato beetles, flea beetles, European corn borers, gypsy moths, and tent caterpillars.

In better news, Mainers got some much-needed rain. Or, as recorder Gary J. Raymond, from Franklin County put it, “Ahhh… the sound of rain on the roof, especially when needed. Haying is in full progress. You could see a real jump in growth and green color from the rain. Planting is on a roll.”

PORTLAND

For 409 Cumberland, green

kudos come naturally

409 Cumberland, an affordable rental housing development that was designed to foster healthy and environmentally sustainable living, has been named a winner of the 22nd annual Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards, according to a press release. The development, which is in Bayside, won in the Green category.

The awards are presented in Washington, D.C. to the “most outstanding” Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties in the country by the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition, a trade organization.

The awards celebrate the “developments at the forefront of creating stronger, healthier communities” nationwide, the press release said.

409 Cumberland, which has 57 apartments, was designed to reflect environmental principles from basement to roof, including its insulation, heating, paints, plumbing, lighting and appliances. The complex also has rooftop gardens and a greenhouse, where residents can grow vegetables year-round, and a Healthy Living Center, where they can learn how to cook with their harvest in the demonstration kitchen.

The press release quotes both Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree offering congratulations.

“This development is a key piece in the ongoing revitalization of Bayside that provides seniors, young adults, families, formerly homeless individuals, and adults with special needs a safe and healthy place to call home,” Pingree said.

Bristol Seafood partners give

$10,000 to UNE marine program

Bristol Seafood, a seafood processor and distributor in southern Maine, has announced that its partners gave $10,000 to the Center for Excellence in the Marine Sciences at the University of New England.

“We are pleased to have an opportunity to support the Center for Excellence in the Marine Sciences as it continues to help its students in the areas of ocean studies, marine conservation and restoration, marine entrepreneurship, and sustainable aquaculture and fisheries,” Peter Handy, President & CEO at Bristol, was quoted in a press release as saying.

“These funds will be instrumental in helping our talented faculty, staff and students continue the research that will expand the marine economy both in Maine and around the globe,” Barry Costa-Pierce, director of the Center for Excellence in the Marine Sciences at UNE, is quoted as saying.

Bristol Seafood is located on Portland Fish Pier. In 2015, it shipped more than 6 million pounds of cod, haddock, mussels and scallops.