By Katy Kelleher
Photos by Hannah Hoggatt
From our April 2023 issue
Faced with misshapen, discolored, or otherwise ugly vegetables, farmers often make the hard decision to leave them in the field. Labor costs wipe out the potential profit from produce most shoppers would look sideways at. On multigenerational Jordan’s Farm, in Cape Elizabeth, co-owner Penny Jordan has had to ditch her fair share of cauliflowers, beets, and carrots. Of late, though, a couple of guys have been buying even some of her gnarliest veggies.
Ben Slayton and Matt Chappell started Harvest Maine dips and spreads last year. The concept, Slayton says, is to cut food waste and support farmers by using ingredients formerly considered unsalable. In their Brunswick kitchen space, they mash cauliflower and broccoli for an avocado-less riff on guacamole, mix beets and carrots for a light and bright spread, and blend celery root and red bell pepper for a creamy almost-hummus. Jordan notes that her farm often works with food-assistance groups but that she “wouldn’t send them anything I wouldn’t put on my own plate.” In a dip, it doesn’t much matter how unsightly a vegetable was. For the time being, Slayton and Chappell are keeping production small, figuring out the quirks of their quirky supply chain. “We’ll have to become more efficient over time,” Slayton says, “but we want to keep it messy right now so we can understand how best to grow.”