November 2017

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Editor’s Note by Kathleen Fleury
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Ed noteLess than a mile from Down East’s headquarters is a small farm that I pass a few times a week, where a little herd of cows typically shares the pasture with a noisy flock of seagulls. Sometimes, when I drive by, I look at those cows and think about the meat that I eat. Occasionally, I wonder how I can eat meat at all. More often, I give a little thanks to the animal kingdom for all the delicious nourishment it provides.

Not long after I moved back to Maine from New York City — 10 years ago this month — my thinking about meat, and about burgers in particular, started to change. After I watched the documentary Food, Inc., I could no longer in good conscience order the two-cheeseburger meal from McDonald’s. The film had taught me things I couldn’t unlearn, and I wanted to know where my meat — and my food in general — came from.

In Maine, we’re lucky to have so many farms that have embraced — or have always adhered to — sustainable and ethical farming strategies. I make most of my family’s burgers with beef from Aldermere Farm, where black-and-white Belted Galloways graze on a picturesque spread in Rockport. Our friends work there, and we know kids who meet for 4-H there. I also support Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, and Caldwell Family Farm in Turner. When we go out to eat, I look for farm names on menus, and I’ll usually decline a burger if it’s not from a local source.

Lest you think me a snob, though, I should mention that my go-to burger comes from a gas station — Tolman Pond Market on Route 90 in Rockport, which uses grass-fed beef butchered just down the road at Warren’s Curtis Custom Meats. And from time to time, I will still eat a burger with less of a pedigree. Scott’s Place in Camden? Fat Boy Drive-In in Brunswick? Those burgers are absolutely delicious.

Some of my favorites made our list of “Maine’s 30 Greatest Burgers,” which begins on page 72. As you’ll discover, there’s a lot to a burger. Serious foodies talk about beef, like wine, having terroir, a set of unique characteristics deriving from the environment where it was grown. And the farmers, chefs, and restaurants of our increasingly food-forward state all add their own mystique. (Heck, fishermen too, if our lobster-adorned cover burger, from Old Orchard Beach’s Butcher Burger, is any indication.)

A commitment to eating local — be it meat, fish, produce, or otherwise — fits the spirit of this season, a time when we recognize and give thanks for the source of our sustenance. There is no better place than Maine to eat delicious food. So consider this issue a thanksgiving of sorts — to our farmers, chefs, and animals, and to this parcel of earth. Bon appétit and happy Thanksgiving!


Maine’s 30 Greatest Burgers

From mom-and-pop diners, hole-in-the wall pubs, and fancy-pants kitchens all across the state, these are the juicy little beauties most worth road tripping for.

By Joe Ricchio and the Down East staff

The Fire and the Feast

Aficionado of all things historic, Scott Hanson does Thanksgiving in early-19th-century (high) style.

By Hannah Holmes

Liberty’s Prison

In Maine’s maximum-security lockup, Warden Randall Liberty is offering inmates gardens, therapy, and a sense of purpose.

By Jesse Ellison


Where in Maine?


The Mail

North by East

Opinions, Advisories, and Musings from the Length and Breadth of Maine

Vacation Man

A Day at the Beach With Humorist John Hodgman

Down East Dispatches

News You May Have Missed

Rooms of Their Own

Famous homes bound by a common literary thread

Save the U-Haul Depot!

Historic Preservation Gets Mod

Special Section: Shop

Your Guide to Maine’s Best Locally Made Gifts, Products, and More

Making It In Maine

Portland Barrel Company



Living the Maine Life


An Arty Portland Condo


Mussel Chowder

My Maine

Knowing Phyllis Austin

Room With a View


What to Do in Maine This Month


Portland’s Cong Tu Bot


Bad Proms and Tragi-Coms


Maine Superhero October Ghost


Tall Horse

From Our Archives

On the cover: The Surf & Turf at Old Orchard Beach’s Butcher Burger, by Michael D. Wilson

Additional photos: Michael Piazza; John Benford; Molly Haley; Brian Fitzgerald

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