Eat Like a Fish!

Seacoast Eat Local is taking you all on an adventure for the next 26 weeks! Along with our new friends, Eating with the Ecosystem out of Rhode Island, we will be encouraging you all to “Eat Like A Fish!” as we participate in an ongoing citizen science project!

The goal of the research project is to understand the availability of locally caught species in markets and other points of sale across New England. Each week, participants in all the New England states will be randomly assigned 4 species of fish to look for in local markets. If they are able to find at least one of the four species which was caught and sold in New England, their task is to bring it home and eat it– all while recording their experiences and preferences. Researchers hope to understand not only the availability of local species, but the opportunities and barriers to increasing their purchase and consumption.

In a training webinar for the program, project leader Kate Masury provided fascinating information about our local fishing industry. It turns out that we export nearly 80% of the fish caught in New England waters! With education and adjustments to commercial markets, we could be eating more locally caught fish and, for that matter, fishing more sustainably. As shown in the image above, Eating with the Ecosystem supports an ecosystems-based approach to seafood consumption. This means that our efforts should not revolve around one particular species and how to harvest it more sustainably and effectively, but should focus on the health of the entire ecosystem and spread consumption (and conservation efforts) across the system as it exists (and changes). Much like Seacoast Eat Local, Eating with the Ecosystem encourages consumers to shop locally and to get to know and support local fishermen!

The citizen science project starts next week and we will be detailing our journey each and every week until October. Follow along with us as we search for and prepare a variety of local species including whelk, flounder, cod, tuna, lobsters and more!

The project is now closed to additional participants, but it’s never too late to focus on eating locally! New Hampshire Community Seafood is a great source of locally caught fish that supports day-boat fishermen in our region. They offer a great (if we do say so ourselves!) CSF program with a number of different options and pick up locations. Check them out and sign up today!

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Veronique’s Post: When One Door Closes…

This winter season, as an intern for Seacoast Eat Local, has been one of the most wonderful and educational experience thus far. I’ve learned so much from both Shelly and Jill, my amazing co-interns, the array of farmers, and the many customers that I’ve met. I can still remember my first farmer’s market, and the buzz of energy that vibrated right before the opening of the day. My excitement was obvious then, and continued to remain for the rest of the market days.

As a Sustainable Agriculture major at the University of New Hampshire, I felt so much emphasis on food production, and ways to grow the best crops, that I forgot one of the most important aspect of agriculture: people. As an intern, I was able to see how much these markets and farmers have made an impact on the community. There were families that were regulars, who were dedicated to feeding their families local and healthy foods, and also supporting their farmers. I’ve enjoyed witnessing how excited people were for products like kohlrabi, for both those who’ve never had the product and those who were avid kohlrabi enthusiasts. The community and atmosphere of the markets were so open and welcoming, and it made me beam to think about how people from different places, lives and experiences were all able to enjoy the simplicity of food. This experience has helped push my desire to become part of our local food system, and learn even more. And though the Winter’s Farmer Market season is now over, a whole new season is coming up, which means more food, excitement, and community. 

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Chloe’s Post: The Results are In! A Summary of My Older Adult Project

The Results are In! A Summary of My Older Adult Project

Throughout my internship with Seacoast Eat Local, I have been working on a research project involving the local older adult population. The aim of this study was to find out a variety of things including (1) how much they knew about Seacoast Eat Local (2) the best methods to reach them with information and (3) their farmers’ market food preferences. The part I was most excited about was their food preferences. Currently, many older adults do not consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables (FFVs). Therefore, by discovering their preferences, Seacoast Eat Local as well as other organizations could gain insight into how to better serve this portion of our population. Additionally, SEL has a mobile market (SAMM) that provides FFVs to areas that do not necessarily have immediate access to them. The findings from this study could also influence the types of foods provided in the SAMM van.

25 individuals participated in this study, a majority of them ages 81 – 95 and female. This research was done via paper survey. The only qualification was that they needed to be 60+ years old. The data was collected from both an assisted living facility as well as a senior housing authority site.

After analyzing the data, it was found that SEL was more well known at the location where the SAMM van stopped, which makes sense. That is also why this research is so important because it identified locations the SAMM van could add to its route. It also found that mail was the most popular method of communication for the local older adult population. Furthermore, the survey asked some questions about how older adults preferred to buy food at the farmers’ market. The results indicated two things: that older adults like to have autonomy when choosing their fruits and vegetables as well as the fact that they like to purchase smaller amounts of larger foods (i.e. ½ a melon as opposed to a whole one). This makes sense because older adults do not usually consume as much food and do not need as many daily calories. Buying in smaller portions also prevents food waste and spoilage.

Now comes the exciting part! The food preferences of the local older adult population. Foods on the survey were limited to those available at the farmers’ markets and were categorized into four categories: vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein. Here were the top three from each category: The percentages indicate the percent of individuals that selected for the food.

Top Vegetables: Corn (84%), Potatoes (80%), and Green Beans (72%)

Top Fruits: Peaches (72%), Strawberries (72%), and Watermelon (68%)

Top Protein: Eggs (72%), Chicken (68%), and Beef (60%)

Top Dairy: Cheese (68%), Milk (52%), and Yogurt (48%)

It was interesting to find that eggs were the most liked protein product. Fish was also an extremely popular protein and came in 4th place. The least popular food of all was eggplant surprisingly. When talking with some survey takers, they indicated significant interest in having the SAMM van stop at their location! This is great because it shows that the older adult population wants these FFVs, it is just a matter of access. I’m so glad I got to have this experience. I had a blast learning how to conduct research, meeting all the participants, and presenting my results at the UNH Undergraduate Research Conference! Hope you found these results as interesting as I did!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

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Emily’s Post: Strawberry Banana Nice-Cream

Last week I finally made the latest dessert fad: nice-cream.  It was so easy to make and so delicious I thought I would share with the Seacoast Eat Local audience.  For those of you who don’t know what nice-cream is, it is ice cream that is good for you, believe it or not!  It uses mainly frozen fruit as its ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make.  Nice-cream does not contain dairy and doesn’t have all of those added sugars like typical ice cream does.  There still is sugar in nice-cream though, but not the “bad” kind.  Fruit is made up of carbohydrates which break down to glucose, which is sugar.  However, this is the good kind of natural sugar.  Your body needs carbohydrates because that is its main source of energy.  So when you have nice-cream you are putting healthy food in your body that actually tastes good!

Fruit season is coming to New Hampshire before we know it, and with strawberry season especially being just around the corner, I decided to make a strawberry banana nice-cream! In just a few short weeks (OK, a few more than a few), everyone will be able to visit their favorite PYO strawberry patch and rush home for delicious home made nice-cream!

Here is how I made my strawberry banana nice-cream:

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas, cut in coins, frozen
  • ½ cup strawberries, frozen
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Cut bananas into coins, freeze
  2. Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Pour contents into a small container
  4. Either freeze for an hour, or enjoy right away!

This is such a delicious, refreshing, guilt-free dessert that you can blend up in no time!  You can have this really any time of the day because it is frozen fruit that tastes like dessert.  For breakfast, you can turn this into a breakfast bowl by adding nuts, chia seeds, and other fresh fruit on top.  You can also modify the ingredients for this recipe to make other flavors.  The base of nice-cream is the frozen banana coins and you can add other kinds of frozen fruits such as frozen mixed berries, or peanut butter and dark chocolate.  There are so many ways to make different flavor nice-creams.  Next time you want a refreshing tasty dessert, I suggest you try this nice-cream!

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Forgotten Farms at the Music Hall

Thursday April 27th, The Music Hall in Portsmouth will show the film Forgotten Farms at 7pm. This film portrays New England dairy farmers (including our own community’s Lorraine Merrill, dairy farmer and NH Ag Commissioner), who are struggling to stay in business while they work hard to feed us.



“Forgotten Farms gives us a glimpse into the past and a vision for a future regional food system. The documentary shows the cultural divide between the new food movement and traditional farming, highlighting the need to examine differences, develop mutual understanding, and find common ground. A truly sustainable local food system that benefits everyone will rely on all of our farmers.”


Tickets available online or at the door.

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Chloe’s Post: My First Experience Canning

My mother is an avid canner. Growing up, I remember always seeing her with her canning supplies making fabulous jams! Though I usually do not consume jams, I still found the process fascinating. Therefore, I decided to learn from the best this Easter weekend. Since the weather is becoming progressively more gorgeous, I decided on making a strawberry-rhubarb jam! Though I wasn’t able to get my ingredients at a farmers’ market this time, strawberries and rhubarb are available at the summer farmers’ markets starting in June.

The whole process was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I learned that in order to store the finished product on the shelf, the cans have to be sterilized first. This is done by boiling the cans for approximately 10 minutes. If this step is not done, the jams must be stored in the refrigerator. I did not realize that so few ingredients make up jam. This recipe only consisted of five ingredients! Though simple, the product is delicious!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

Recipe taken from Ball’s Blue Book: The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of strawberries, washed and stemmed
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 4 stalks)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 package of powdered pectin
  • 5 ½ cups of sugar

Directions:

Crush strawberries; place in a large sauce pot. Combine chopped rhubarb with strawberries. Add lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add sugar; return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 6 half pints.


Canning is a fantastic way to use up any extra fruits that you may have from the farmers’ markets! Additionally, jams made from farmers’ market fruits taste better because the fruits are fresher! Another difference I like between buying jams and doing it yourself is the fact that the homemade jams are more textured and not just smooth.

I love learning new cooking techniques and ways to prepare foods. I think next on my list is going to be bread making. Something my mom also does frequently! I believe that cooking is becoming a lost art due to the convenience-oriented nature of our food system. Cooking and food preparation can be extremely time consuming and with the fast-paced nature of today’s world, many people opt for the faster method (i.e. packaged foods).

I hope you guys get the opportunity to try canning at some point. I had fun doing it! If you haven’t done it yet, you should definitely try it. Go to the summer markets, find some fresh fruits, and start canning!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

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Veronique’s Post: It’s Always Tea Time

What’s better than a steaming cup of tea and great book? The weather might be warming up but that won’t stop me from brewing a cup of my favorite tea. There are a variety of teas, with coinciding health benefits. Though I love my cup of Earl Grey, there are so many blends and flavors to entice any tea skeptic. An easy way of enjoying tea is by creating your own! Many herbs for tea can be grown in your own backyard. Herbs like mint, lemon balm, sage, chamomile, and lavender can easily be grown and dried to make your own blends. You can also mix up your blend with rose hip, raspberry leaves, citrus peels, or even dandelion root. Here are some helpful tips to brew your perfect cup:  

  1. Harvest your herbs mid-morning or in drier conditions, after the dew has evaporated 
  2. You can air dry herbs by laying them out in an even layer over cheesecloth, careful to avoid direct sunlight, and damp areas.  
  3. Lay a cheesecloth or paper towel over the herbs to protect from dust, and dry them for a minimum of ten days 
  4. Place the dried herbs in an tightly closed jar after  
  5. Using a tablespoon of your blend, you can pour hot water over the blend or use a tea infuser and steep for ten minutes.  

Here is a great recipe to try out! 

Cinnamon Rose Hip Tea 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of cinnamon  
  • 1 cup of dried rose hips 
  • 1 teaspoon of dried, grated lemon peel 
  • 1/4 cup of dried  lemon balm leaves

If making your own tea blend isn’t for you, be sure to check out our friends at White Heron Tea!

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Emily’s Post: An Insight on Local Foods

 

Editor’s Note: It has been such a pleasure to work with Emily, and like her friend and intern predecessor Brooke, we have really enjoyed watching her have new learning experiences and deepen her understanding of local foods and agriculture. While we feel it proves the value of our work, we also feel it shows how much more work there is to be done to educate everyday citizens of all ages and backgrounds!

I was sad that this past Saturday was my last farmer’s market as a Seacoast Eat Local intern.  From attending every market this season, my love and appreciation for farmer’s markets was ignited.  Having the opportunity to talk to the farmers about what they produce helped me get better insight about the farming process.  My hometown does not have many farmer’s markets, so this was my first experience where I had the time to look around and fully appreciate what they have to offer.  I didn’t realize the variety of goods sold that were available at farmer’s markets.

I never thought that there would be so much variety of local foods available at the markets.  At our markets there are so many fresh foods available.  There are homemade chocolates, cheese, yogurt, maple syrup, pastries, and mushrooms from local farms.  You can also get a lot of fresh ready-to-eat meals like vegetable rice bowls, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches.  At every market, I would get my lunch there knowing that I was eating a meal that was grown locally and with no added chemicals.  I also love knowing that by purchasing food at the market I am in contributing to the farm so that they can continue making such delicious food.

I look forward to attending warmer markets this summer.  My experience here at SEL has taught me a lot about the inner-working’s of putting on farmer’s markets.  Now for every market I attend, I will not only have a greater appreciation of how much work it takes to run them but also an appreciation of the hard work that goes behind producing the food I buy!

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Veronique’s Post: Warm Weather and What’s to Come

It’s April, and we’ve only left the cold temperatures and blankets of snow. With the bitter frost behind us, warm weather is creeping in. What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with this iconic springtime crop, asparagus! Asparagus usually start popping up around May but their season does not linger too long, so make sure you take advantage and grab some asparagus in local upcoming markets around the Seacoast. Their short season is one of the reasons why people are so excited for this perennial crop, and not to mention their sweet and tender flavors. Asparagus in the spring are best eaten on the day of harvest (or within a couple days), and should not be over-prepared. Try this simple recipe, that surely will not disappoint 

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed 

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided 

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

  • 4 eggs 

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 500 degrees . Line a sheet try with tin foil and toss asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper then place in the oven. Roast until asparagus is tender and beginning to brown in places, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil. 

    Heat oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Carefully add one egg to the skillet. Cook until egg whites are set, spooning hot fat over the top, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining eggs. 

    Divide asparagus between four plates and top each with 1 egg. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. 

    Recipe Adapted from seriouseats.com  

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Chloe’s Post: My Last Winter Market (an an intern)

This past Saturday was bittersweet for me. Sweet because I would no longer have to get up at 6:30 AM every other Saturday, but bitter because it was my last day working at the Seacoast Eat Local Winter farmers’ markets as an intern. Out of all the activities for this internship, working at the markets had to be my favorite. I loved the atmosphere there because it was lively, bustling, and also fun. I liked how even though it would be miserable and cold outside, the market would be warm and comforting. Besides the getting up early, I always enjoyed my time at the farmers’ market.

Since this was my last market, I had to stop at some of my favorite farms! This included eating some Beef Sambousek rolls from Karimah’s Kitchen, which came with an avocado spread. They were delicious and quite filling. Usually, I get their rice and lentils with carmelized onions, but they were out that day. I also was able to try some duck confit ravioli from Valicenti Pasta Farm. I had never had duck before and it was exciting to do so. This was also wonderful and needed no seasonings! I also got to try out some pickled beets and dilly beans from Debbie D’s, which were fantastic! Everything at the farmers’ market tastes so good. There has never been a food item I haven’t enjoyed! Finally, I saw some gorgeous swiss chard at Heron Pond Farm. I never knew that the stems were so colorful. Nature is simply beautiful if given the proper care.

Some things I’ll miss about the markets include interacting with all the customers and farmers. I loved talking to the customers because they were so friendly and also excited about the markets. It was also nice to get to know the farmers and become a regular at their stands. I’ll also miss being able to try new and unique foods. Because of the markets, I have been able to try new and different foods such as watermelon radish, kohlrabi, apple pie jam, duck ravioli, Lebanese chicken rolls, beef and cheese empanadas, and also pickled beets!

Though I am not going to be working officially at the markets anymore, this internship has reawakened my love of farmers’ markets. They can be very addicting! As a result, I plan on attending the summer markets. I look forward to the being outside, seeing some familiar faces, and being able to try all the unique summertime foods the markets’ can provide. I hope you all had as much fun with the winter markets as I did!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

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