Editor’s Note by Kathleen Fleury
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!
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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