June 16, 2010

Natural Foodie: Season’s fleeting, but organic berries abound in Maine

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Strawberry season – one of the sweetest times of year – is upon us, which means now is the moment to snatch up their fleeting goodness. In another month or so, nature’s candy store continues to throw open its doors as blueberries begin to ripen on Maine farms.

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WHERE TO FIND BERRIES

Here's a map to guide your berry search.

 

WANT MORE ORGANIC EATS?
Check out the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association website, www.mofga.org, where there is a directory of certified organic Maine farms that allows you to search by the products they offer. Find it under the Resources tab.

Each year at this time, I’m reminded anew about how delicious it is to live in Maine.

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll recall that a few weeks ago I wrote about cultivated blueberries showing up for the first time on the Dirty Dozen list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, strawberries are just as bad when it comes to chemical residues.

The recent news out of California shows why seeking out organic is so important for our health and the health of the planet. For years, California’s agribusiness strawberry farms have used the pesticide methyl bromide (which is linked to neurological and respiratory disorders) to sterilize the soil before planting. (To me, the fact that these farmers want to sterilize their soil shows how poorly they understand soil science, let alone ecological systems.)

Today, methyl bromide is slowly being phased out due to its role in depleting the ozone layer. In its place, commodity strawberry growers pushed for approval of an even more toxic substance: methyl iodide. California is poised to approve this chemical linked to cancer and miscarriages, despite an outpouring of opposition from scientists and consumers. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported this month, the pesticide “is so toxic that even chemists are reluctant to handle it.”

To avoid being exposed to such poison-laced fruit, the smart thing to do is to buy from local farms that use natural farming methods. Thankfully, Maine is a leader in sustainable agriculture, and there are plenty of places to buy organic berries.

Here is a selected list of farms who would be happy to sell some of their chem-free goodness. Many of these farms make a great day trip from the Portland area or a fun spot to visit when vacationing Downeast. I’ve broken the list up between strawberries and blueberries, but a number of these farms sell organically grown raspberries and blackberries too.

All can help you enjoy summer’s sweetness – without the unwanted side effects of pesticide exposure.

ORGANIC STRAWBERRIES

BROADTURN FARM

388 Broadturn Road, Scarborough. 329-3840; www.broadturnfarm.com
Get pick-your-own strawberries starting today from dawn to dusk and every day until the season comes to an end.

CHICK FARM
985-2787; chickfarm.com
Find their berries 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the Kennebunk Farmers Market.

GORANSON FARM
250 River Road, Dresden. 737-8834; www.goransonfarm.me
Sold at the farm stand from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Or find them on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Boothbay Farmers Market; Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Damariscotta Farmers Market; and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Bath Farmers Market.

MANDALA FARM
46 Young’s Farm Road, Gouldsboro. 963-2984; www.mandalafarm.com
Available now at the farm stand, which is open during daylight hours seven days a week. Or find them on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Winter Harbor Farmers Market.

MISTY MEADOWS FARM
1327 Main St., Grand Isle. 316-6959; www.mistymeadowsorganicfarm.com
Look for strawberries in a week or so at the farm stand, which is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Pick-your-own is offered 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

SQUIRE TARBOX FARM
3 Squire Court, Westport Island. 522-0840
Available in a week or so at the self-service farm store, or find them on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bath Farmers Market and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Crystal Springs Farmers Market in Brunswick.

(Continued on page 2)

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