This is a magazine about food and drink and place. That’s our niche, and it’s the basic lens we use to ponder, celebrate, and explore Baja Arizona and the people, landscapes, and systems that comprise its foodshed.
At its foundation, that foodshed is dependent on the intertwining of agriculture, politics, economics, history, and biotic communities. So, we would assert that choosing the glass of beer you enjoy in a local brewery or the fresh produce you carefully pack home from the farmers’ market, or selecting that loaf of artisan bread baked with locally grown heritage grains are all, in poignant ways, “political acts,” as the journalist Michael Pollan said, containing within them the myriad choices we must make about where and how our food is produced. We can’t extricate our appetites from serious inquiry into environmental, economic, and political matters, regardless of where we consider ourselves on the ideological spectrum. Our continued sustenance depends on such a quest, now more than ever.
Accompanied by the outstanding photography of Jeff Smith, journalist Todd Miller’s story about a borderlands ecological restoration project is especially timely given recent events. He takes us to the San Bernardino Ranch, 12 miles east of Agua Prieta/Douglas, where a landscape’s transformation over the last 20 years is both a miracle to behold and a powerful juxtaposition of paradigms. He writes: “Both border militarization and ecological restoration are two distinct responses to the most challenging crisis of our time: climate change. In this microcosm along a remote area of border, these two contrasting visions might just embody the future struggles of the world.” Indeed.
Longtime Tucson journalist Margaret Regan tells the nearly 95-year-old tale of Tucson’s famed El Charro, a family saga that epitomizes Tucson gastronomic lore at its best. Headed by the irrepressible matriarch, Carlotta Flores—who is seemingly everywhere, all the time—the family’s expanding empire, writes Regan, has grown to an army of 500 workers, with different incarnations of the family’s culinary creativity springing up in Tucson and elsewhere. Steven Meckler’s photographs capture the four generations of the family, as Regan foretells the beginning of yet another chapter in the El Charro story.
There are two members of the Edible Baja Arizona team who receive little attention and no bylines, but who make a defining qualitative difference in the magazine we produce. The inestimable Ford Burkhart has, among many other adventures, been a journalist since 1964, including an 11-year run at the New York Times, where he had a long stint on the Foreign Desk’s late slot, “closing the pages at 3 a.m.” That, friends, is hardcore copy desk cred. Now a professor emeritus at the UA School of Journalism, we are incredibly fortunate to have his eyes on every word that makes it into the magazine, serving as our copy editor par excellence. Thanks, Ford! And a nearly final version of magazine proofs is pored over by proofreader Charity Whiting, whose propensity for the picking of nits on our pages ensures that any other errors we’ve managed to make are rectified before we make 25,000 copies of them. Charity has an M.A. in education from the University of Southern California, but her sharp eye for typographic sloppiness seems to be an inherent talent. Thanks, Charity!
We’ll see you around the table, where all are welcome.
Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher