Dan Cosby, 51, who runs his 35-foot lobster boat, Fisher Girl, has been lobstering off Maine for 15 years. The ups and downs of the stock market have taken a toll on him and other lobstermen. When the market is down, so is a luxury item like lobster. This week fishermen are getting $5 a pound for lobsters. Maine retailers double the price; the farther you go from the source, the higher the price.
The discrepancy is dramatic enough for Cosby's wife of two years, Amber Heffner, 42, a Chicago native whose background is in technology, to help reinvent his livelihood. They just launched Crate to Plate, modeled after community-supported agriculture and community-supported fisheries programs, in which consumers buy a share of the farm or a boat before the season and receive the harvest for several months.
Crate to Plate offers customers a chance to buy a trap for a month ($395), a half season ($1,195) or a full season until the end of the year ($1,995). The couple built an interactive website, where you can click to check what's in your trap. You're guaranteed 40 lobsters a full season; a lucky trap might yield 60, all of which are yours. Last week, for the first time, Cosby and Heffner pulled up lobsters from the bay, layered them with seaweed, paper damp with salty seawater, and frozen gel packs, and called FedEx.