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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hello from Maine Part I - Flatbread Pizza

Yesterday, Alex, the pup and I arrived in Maine to visit my brother (Brian), sister-in-law (Katie) and baby neice (Zevon) for a week. The day before we all piled into Roger's car, my brother called me and said, "So, Katie and I want to try to eat vegetarian while you are here."

First, I was so excited, but also felt guilty. While I know I can be opinionated and pushy with my views on meat and animal treatment, I never want to push those I love into something they are not comfortable with. My brother assured me that this was something he wanted to do, and hell... it was only for a few days.

Upon our arrival, Katie said we were going to dinner at pizza joint that had vegan pizza and got all of their incredients locally. The name rang a bell: Flatbread Pizza. My friend has been reminding me to go American Flatbread in Virginia for a while now. They serve local ingredients and get their cheeses and meats from local, sustainable farms. And I have been searching for the perfect below-90-degree day to hop on our bikes and ride out to Virginia for a delicious pizza lunch.

When we got to Flatbread Pizza in Portland, ME we had 20 minutes to kill, so I wandered around looking for someone who could answer some questions about the animal products.

I quickly found one of the partners. It turns out that the meat and most of the cheeses come from small, local farms around Portland. However, the mozzarella is not. The mozz (as is in most restaurants that buy local) is bought from a distributor, because so much is used and it is not economically viable to buy it from a local farmer.

This needs to change. There are farmers who make mozz, but until there is constant demand for them to expand and sell wholesale, the "local" restaurants are still going to get their mozz from factory farms. So, I enjoyed my vegan pizza (yummy veggies, without cheese), while the rest of the crew enjoyed veggie pizzas with cheese.

I am curious if American Flatbread (not the same chain, but clearly related), also makes a local exception for mozzarella. If they do, they should think about changing. It is one of the most popular cheeses and restaurants can use their dollars to help change the inhumane way it is produced and sold.

I think Alex and I will be making our bike ride to Virginia sooner than later.

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