BikeMaine Riders Enjoy Meals With Local Ingredients

By Johanna S. Billings

 

The chicken dinner enjoyed by BikeMaine riders in Machias Sept. 12 was two months in the making.

Dave Seddon, CEO of the Portland-based Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative, coordinated BikeMaine breakfasts and dinners by sourcing local food.

“We came in to help oversee logistics and production,” said Seddon, who also is a dietician.

Among the biggest challenges the cooperative faces in sourcing local food is quantity.

“Not all the producers can produce to the volume [BikeMaine] needs,” he said.

Because of that, the cooperative contacted Tenth Village Farm in July to give the owners enough time to grow about 100 birds for the approximately 400 riders and 75 volunteers.

“Our purpose in life is to actually help schools and hospitals and other large events and institutions to incorporate more local food for a healthier Maine,” said Seddon, who explained the cooperative’s member-owners include local Maine farmers, fishermen/women, distributors, food service professionals and consumers.

The cooperative also assisted folks in Jonesport Sept. 11, where cyclists ate lobster from A.C. Inc. on Beals Island and mussels from Moosabec Mussels in Jonesport. 

At the last minute, Seddon said, the Jonesport group found itself without anyone to actually prepare the lobster. Fortunately, members of Community of Christ and Sawyer Memorial Congregational churches came forward.

“They were fantastic,” he said.

Local suppliers also provided local food in the other towns. True North Salmon Company in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, provided salmon for dinner in Eastport September 14. Raye’s Mustard of Lubec provided the sauce for that meal.

“We had a torrential downpour at that event,” said Seddon, adding the Easport dinner was moved under cover in an airport hanger.

Bay View Farm in Nobleboro provided steaks for the dinner in Lubec September 15. Volunteers in Lubec also raked and stored local blueberries for the meal, he said.

In Milbridge September 16, cyclists enjoyed Mexican food provided by Vazquez Mexican Takeout in Milbridge.

BikeMaine cyclists and volunteers were not served traditional bacon-and-egg breakfasts but rather oatmeal and yogurt, pancakes and breakfast pizza featuring local ingredients. In Machias, volunteers served blueberry pancakes with local blueberries and local syrup.

Seddon said local communities were asked to provide at least 12 volunteers for breakfasts and 20 for dinners. Most of the time, the meals had “way more” than that, thanks to a “great turnout” in each location.

In addition to securing local ingredients, the Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative made sure local volunteers followed proper food safety through practices such as hand washing and using hairnets. 

It also worked with volunteers to make sure the food during the 90-minute meals was served quickly. That meant getting approximately 475 people through the line in 45 minutes or less.

“The object is to get them through as quickly as possible, as happy as possible and to make sure that the communities are following food safety handling practices,” Seddon said.

Leftover food was donated to food pantries in each community.

BikeMaine accommodated special dietary requests for medical reasons but was unable to offer “every single type of offering,” he said.

 

“We made sure all the meals were nutritionally balanced,” he said, adding that they were also formulated to provide a maximum of energy.