04 Oct 2011

Sustainable Nantucket

Sustainable Nantucket

Stroll down Main Street Nantucket on any given day and you have the opportunity to peek in the windows of some truly charming and unique boutiques. As you approach the corner of Main and Federal there’s no need to window shop or step inside to make a purchase. Attractively displayed on the bed of the Bartlett’s Farm truck is a vegetable extravaganza. So many antioxidant and lycopene bearing options it can put one in a vegetative state.

Depending on the day, there are fresh heads of cauliflower and lettuce, bunches of carrots and beets, piles of sweet corn and little bundles of herbs. In the heart of the summer and into fall, the tomatoes steal the show. They come in all shapes, colors and varieties. It appears somebody drank a bit too much veggie juice one night and gave a few of these little gems some pretty funky names; Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Stripey, Mortgage Lifter…and my personal favorite Ugly Ripe. I conclude it must be hard going through life with a name like Ugly Ripe, so I purpose to always include him (or her, poor thing) on my seasonal dinner menu.

There is a growing trend spreading across the country and especially on Nantucket to utilize fresh and organic produce. Families are planting gardens, restaurants are designing menus featuring locally grown ingredients and organizations are rising up in support of Nantucket producers. Sustainable Nantucket is one island organization whose mission is to advocate for local farms, food producers and artisians. Their downtown farmers market is becoming the place to be every Saturday morning. They partner with several island restaurants to host the “Locally Grown Dinner Series.” My husband Dan and I attended one of these dinners last night at The Club Car. The local foraged mushrooms were exquisite, the beet risotto and kale and lentil coulis were tantalizing. I tend to enjoy any Nantucket restaurant experience, but there was something quite charming and meaningful about partaking of dishes that had been thoughtfully prepared using ingredients raised by some of our friends and neighbors.

Nantucket provides a unique opportunity for healthy lifestyle and diet options. There are no fast food chains or neon lit drive thru signs beckoning us to swing in for a quick burger and heaping basket of fries. With several well-known working farms like Bartlett’s and Moors End, as well as a growing number of independent producers, there is a comprehensive selection of fresh produce available. I confess, during my first few months as a year round resident, there were days I missed those fast food options. Today, I’m happy to report, I treasure the opportunity to stop by the Bartlett’s Truck or out to one of the local farms to grab some fresh lettuce or seasonal squash to serve with my fish or chicken.

The next time you’re in Nantucket, resist the temptation to walk on by that veggie laden truck parked on Main Street. Stop by and fill your basket with a fresh bundle of kale or a few tender stalks of asparagus. Or keep an eye on the Sustainable Nantucket calendar and plan to attend one of their Locally Grown Restaurant Dinners or health conscious events. Take a pass on the burger and fries and fill your plate with some of the good stuff.

Veg out.

Shellie Dunlap

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