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Written by Michael Sanders, co-founder of Portland, ME’s Slow Food chapter

People “from away”—out-of-staters—often ask me, What’s up with Maine? How has such a cold and far away place grown such a vibrant food scene replete with farmers, fishermen, crazy-mad chefs and their restaurants, and farmers’ markets?

The answer is not so simple. First, Maine is a land of surprises. It has a coastline longer than England’s, more organic farms per capita than California, and a terrifyingly short growing season of just 125 precious frost-free days. Making the most of what we can wrest from the soil or fish from the sea or forage from the woods, this is what Mainers have always done, a rich tradition that, today, feeds the state’s vibrant and ever-evolving food scene, from our farmers’ market to our dinner and restaurant tables.