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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lotsa Lobsta

It's been reported that Maine's lobster harvest in 2010 was a record breaker.  Preliminary numbers show that 93.4 million pounds of lobster were caught in Maine waters, breaking 2009's record by over 12 million pounds.  Lobstermen get about $3.31 per pound, making this year's catch the 3rd most lucrative in history.

Still, a lobsterman's life isn't easy.  Because of the abundance of the critters, a lobsterman is only allowed by law to have one boat (as opposed to fishermen, who can own many boats).  From an article in the Portland Press Herald:
To keep their profits up, Maine lobstermen must maximize their fishing time, spending 14 hours a day hauling traps. That leaves them little or no time to sell their product, so they have largely relegated the job to lobster dealers, who pay lobstermen at the wharf and then find retailers, restaurants and other markets.
There are a number of lobstermen in Maine who are now forming cooperatives--teaming with chefs and marketing teams--in an effort to spread the delicious lobster to a wider clientele.

Much like I do as a personal chef, they are creating delicious dishes with fresh ingredients and freezing them.  Then they sell them on line or in grocery stores so people can enjoy lobster without much preparation and in a bunch of different ways.  Only about 1/5 of the lobster caught in Maine is consumed in New England, so freezing pre-made dishes not only allows folks in other parts of the country to enjoy it, but it gives other options to locals.

For my money, I still think that the best way to eat a lobster is fresh out of the water, steamed or boiled, with some lemon and butter. Not that I'd turn away something like lobster pizza, chowder or pasta. And that's what these co-ops are counting on.

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