Tableau: In a Maine restaurant far from where you and I live, you peruse the menu, scrape your thumbnail over a sticky brown smudge on the upper right hand corner, smile at the waiter and say, “Mmmm. This looks good. I’ll have some of that.”

Pete Boilard says when he’s asked if he has any questions about the menu, he sometimes replies, “When were they last sanitized?”

Today, without the staff of 300 people who prep Martha Stewart for each show, you and I will discuss Maine food. The topic was brought to our attention by Jeff, a carrot-munching bed-and-breakfast guest who claimed to be a vegan. We learned that the word itself was coined by an English vegetarian to distinguish those who abstain from all animal products, like eggs and cheese, from those who simply won’t eat animals.

Jeff and his girlfriend arrived on bicycles that they parked by the front door. He is a remarkable specimen of a man – not lean, not inordinately muscular, but he said he could ride his bicycle from 4 in the morning until noon the next day with only a quick nap and a dozen or so pit stops. That’s roughly 372 miles. The goal is not speed but endurance. Ask any woman married to a couch potato who pigs out on beer and chips by the TV, if she’d trade him in for a vegan who could pump a bicycle from Fort Kent to Kittery without getting winded.

When Jeff first explained his regimen, my initial reaction was like yours: What a great country this would be if we were all vegans! In a land where one out of every three people is considered obese, double-wide seats in waiting rooms would become museum curiosities. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of physicians, suddenly without their cash cows and unable to make payments on their BMWs, would be digging clams or mowing lawns.

Sixty thousand fast-food places would fold. Without McDonald’s at every exit, millions of traveling wives would whine to their husbands about grungy gas station restrooms. After washing their greasy hands, former burger flippers would be out in the fields gathering fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds for a new breed of Americans able to hop about like little birds.

Unable to find people willing to buy and housebreak 1,500-pound pets, grandchildren of the Cartwright Brothers would grit their teeth and lease the ranch to Exxon.

Being too healthy does raise a few questions. How many vegans would end up like my unfortunate Swedish cousin, Olle, a vegetarian who, tired of living at the age of 95, bemoaned the fact that he was too healthy to die? And, were 20 people shipwrecked on a deserted island, would the vegans be the first to be eaten?

Hopefully, the traditional Saturday night baked bean supper, if porkless, would survive a vegan regime in Maine.

On the first Saturday of each month, St. George Grange No. 421 has a public supper. We advertise it as a public supper although, as you move through the line, you will find three kinds of baked beans on the first table. The contribution of my wife, Marsha, is usually a very popular pan of chicken with barbecue sauce and Key lime pie. Nobody eats her Key lime pie, and I’m sure it’s because nobody knows what it is. This is good, because I take it home and eat the entire pie myself.

Did you have beans on Saturday night when you were a kid? From the can or made from scratch? Has the baked beans custom died out in your family or in your town? Because I can speak only for my village in St. George, it would be helpful if we could hear from you. Paul Freedman, a friend who is working on a book on our eating habits, would like to know.

You might remember when we were hit by a wave of back-to-the landers in the 1960s. Quite a few of these quiet long-haired people came to St. George with guitars, degrees from MIT and strange eating habits. A few of them began to till the soil on a farm near here, which my brother immediately labeled “The Wild Kingdom.” We referred to them as “the Granola Cultists.”

As I recall, a few Granola Cultists got the idea that fruit would cleanse their blood, so they became fruitarians. For two years they sniggered and looked down on the Granola Cultists who continued to contaminate their bodies with potatoes and turnips.

At last the Fruitarians, who had wasted away to skeletal frames, grew too weak to complete even one contra dance. Unable to rejoin the conservative Granola Cultists because of theological differences, the weakest ones moved back to the city and took high-paying jobs as fashion models.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html