Changes for Shrimp Fishing Regulations in Maine

It looks like there could be some changes coming for Maine's shrimping industry. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, strains on the area's shrimp fisheries over the last few years are causing regulators to consider new rules to limit shrimp fishing in Maine.

Every year, limits are placed on how shrimp can be caught in the region during a season. Last year, shrimpers surpassed that limit by 48 percent. In order to maintain the sustainability of the fishery, regulators are considering limiting entry for fishermen later in the season or for those who don't have a history of fishing in the area.

As opposed to putting a quota on the amount of shrimp that can be caught or imposing limits on the length of fishing season (like what Sweden did when crayfish was being over caught), regulators believe that this will be the best and most effective way to limit boats on the water and maintain a sustainable fishery for years to come.

However, lobster fishermen in Maine are concerned about how these changes could adversely reflect them. A lot of lobster fishers will catch shrimp in their off-season to supplement their incomes and stay in business, but if these kinds of regulations are put in place, that will no longer be an option.

The solution to this dilemma is not clear since, either way, these changes will affect many fishermen. And although some issues are bigger or smaller than others, we often forget the human element of the food we're eating. These regulation issues might seem small to many of us, but they could have drastic consequences for these Maine fisherman.

Sometimes when you pick out some meat or fish at the store, you don't think about the fact that at some point, someone was handling those animals. A farmer or fisherman was growing or catching the food and these people are basing their livelihoods on their ability to sell these products for a profit. We often complain about high food prices, but remember that if you're buying from a smaller company or producer-like the people who operate stands at farmers' markets-you're directly helping these people to make a living and survive while catching or growing the food we love to eat.

Photo: IllinoisHorseSoldier

Five Summer Food Getaways

If you have a long weekend this summer, try taking a summer food getaway. There are a lot of great regions and towns around the country that are hopefully only a short drive away. Here are a few ideas of place to check out for a fun food getaway.

Rhinebeck, New York -Rhinebeck is a beautiful, quaint town about two hours north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. The Village of Rhinebeck, which is considered the main part of the larger Town of Rhinebeck, has a rich history dating back to 1686 and an equally rich food culture. This area in the Hudson Valley is home to many small farms and the deliciously fresh and simple food that comes from those local farms. Neighboring towns like Red Hook and Cold Spring also have a number of restaurants and farms, so you'll have plenty of choices in the close-knit area. Check out the Local restaurant, the "Historic" Village Diner (one of the oldest diners in the country), the Breezy Hill farm, and the Bread Alone Bakery for a taste of the area.

Camden, Maine - If you want to getaway to the northeast tip of the country, check out Camden, Maine, a popular summer community on the southern coast of the state. A state known for its lobsters and blueberries is definitely the kind of place you want to visit in the summer for a real taste of fresh New England cooking. Also, the area has a lot of great organic and heirloom produce, rare-breed livestock, artisan cheeses that you don't want to miss during your summer getaway. Besides grabbing a lobster roll at one of great seaside lobster shacks, restaurants like Francine Bistro, Lily Bistro, Natalie's at Camden Harbor Inn, and Primo and In Good Company, both in nearby Rockland, are considered by many to be worth a visit.

Sebastopol, California - A little over an hour north of San Francisco, Sebastopol is a city known for its small town charm and delicious food. Once a primarily plum and apple growing region, the area has become predominated by wine grapes and vineyards. But the city is still proud of those apples and hosts the annual Apple Blossom Festival and Gravenstein Apple Fair. And because it is centrally located in Sonoma Country, visitors will have access to all the neighboring towns and food their fresh California produce. You won't have to go too far to get great food. Restaurants like Della Fattoria, K&L Bistro, Patisserie Angelica, Willow Wood Market Cafe, and Andy's Produce Markets are among the often-talked about hot-spots in Sebastopol.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming - A large valley in Wyoming near the border of Idaho, Jackson Hole is a popular summer and winter vacation destination with its rugged mountains and sweeping plains. For the down-home and hearty, try Norah's Fish Creek Inn is known for its fresh trout and great huevos rancheros. For authentic Mexican, try Pica's Mexican Taqueria (voted one of the best taco spots by Food & Wine), or for American food there is Cafe Genevieve and the local-favorite Bubba's Barbecue. Before a long day of hiking or horseback riding in Jackson Hole, make sure to explore this great food city.

El Paso, Texas - Although El Paso might not sound like a weekend getaway place, it's a great city, centrally located in the Southern U.S. with delicious food. The city of El Paso lies on the western tip of Texas, right next to the Mexican border, which means it's an ideal destination for great Mexican and Tex-Mex food. There are many restaurants that will serve up typical Mexican fare like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, so bring an appetite for south of the border cooking. Places like Kiki's Restaurant and Bar, L & J Cafe, the Edge of Texas Steakhouse and Saloon, and the Star Canyon Winery are just a few of the many places worth a visit on a trip to old Texas town of El Paso.

Where are your favorite food spots in the US?


Exciting Times To Be Eating Lobster

In Maine, the waters are surging with lobsters. This year, Maine reported its largest lobster hall on record. The New York Times writes that unusually warm water helped lobsters molt, or shed their skin, earlier in the year. By early July, many lobsters were big enough to catch. But for every lobster that goes to a restaurant or supermarket, three go back to the sea for conservation purposes. Over the last 15 years, Maine's lobster population has been booming.

In 2009, the financial crisis brought the price of lobsters way down, making it easy for restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and Panera to innovate. Now, lobster prices are again on the rise, meaning big profits for Maine's 4,260 lobstermen.

This is an exciting time to be eating lobster. At Red Rooster we've just added a new lobster salad with pistachios and Asian pear to our menu. And, if you're not in NYC or want a home-cooked meal, you can make lobster rolls for an easy but luxurious weekend dinner.

To learn more about Maine's lobster bonanza, click here.

Two States Fighting Over The Whoopie Pie

If you've ever had a whoopie pie, then it might not be a surprise that two states are fighting over the treat. Maine is vying for rights to call this oversized oreo their state dessert, while Pennsylvanians are outraged at this "act of confectionary larceny." A whoopie pie is made of two domed chocolate cakes that sandwich a creamy vanilla filling. Pennsylvania residents complain that Maine has wild blueberries and lobsters in their state, therefore they should be able to lay claim to what is touted as an Amish invention.

In Pennsylvania legend, Amish wives would pack these treats in their husband's lunch. After a hard day's work on the farm, they would pull the treat out of their lunch and cry "whoopie!"

No matter the origin, whoopie pies are now an American staple, appearing in bakeries across the nation. For more on the subject, check out the New York Times' article on the battle of the whoopie pies.