Two years ago, we set off on a journey to discover, celebrate, and nurture something special that was taking root in this place we call Baja Arizona. We wanted to create a new voice that would tell the compelling story of the burgeoning local foods movement. In that first issue, we said “Eating locally isn’t a feel-good fad for foodies; it’s an incredibly powerful way for communities to reassert control over that most basic commodity: the food on our plates, the drink in our glasses, the very sustenance of our communities and cultural heritages here in Baja Arizona.”
In the last 12 issues, we’ve introduced readers to a wide range of people and organizations, chefs and bakers, brewmasters and winemakers, cheesemakers and food artisans, gardeners and farmers and educators … all engaged in the vital work of helping to “re-localize” our foodshed. We hope you have made discoveries, been encouraged to think more consciously about how you eat, and have celebrated the many rich cultural strands that make this region such an extraordinary place. There are so many more stories to tell—we feel like the journey is just beginning as we start our third year.
The comments and compliments we receive from readers never cease to amaze and inspire us. And we’re astounded by the depth and breadth of support from our advertising partners: nearly 300 local businesses that create a compendium of localism in our pages that is a wonder to behold. And thanks to the more than 1,200 readers who have become subscribers.
Deep appreciation to our contributors, an ever-growing and talented group of writers, photographers, and illustrators whose passion and artistry bring to life the people and topics we cover.
And last but not least, the staff of the magazine deserve your thanks: Jared R. McKinley has doggedly built relationships with our advertisers and provided his expertise on growing food in this challenging climate; Megan Kimble’s fine reporting and writing and her deft hand as an editor have been outstanding (and award-winning); Steve McMackin’s combination of stellar art direction and technical prowess are fundamental to our success; Katy Gierlach has helped keep track of a million details; Kate Selby’s new contributions are expanding our digital horizons. And there any many, many others listed in the masthead who help make the magazine a reality every eight weeks. Thank you to all!
Native Tucsonan Michael McNulty worked for legendary Arizona congressman Mo Udall and was an influential water lawyer for 30 years. He is also a photographer who has built a 200,000-image library that he calls a “paean to the drumming heartbeat of the Sonoran Desert.” In a photo essay, we share a fraction of his documentation of the sacred and profane when it comes to the subject of water in the desert.
A year ago, the Colorado River reached its delta for the first time in decades. Melissa Sevigny chronicles this landmark experiment to restore a once vibrant riparian area. Notably, the water from the Colorado River is also what recharges City of Tucson aquifers in the Avra Valley and south of the city near Green Valley—after making a journey of more than 300 miles and some 2,000 feet in elevation, powered by coal burned at the Navajo Generating Station. Whenever you turn on your hose, remember that journey.
This quote from Debbie Weingarten’s story “Quitting Season” encapsulates her poignant story about why farmers stop farming: “No one wants to think about farmers calling it quits. It muddies the heroic glow cast around our food producers … But however hard it is to discuss, the rate at which farmers are walking away from their farms—whether by choice or by force—may be the most important measure for whether our food systems are actually working.” There is a serious problem here, and it has to do with a failure in our national food and agriculture system.
Which is a good segue to Megan Kimble’s story “Farm to Market,” which explores the ways local growers are seeking stability in sales and access to reliable distribution channels so they can keep growing food. Consider this fact: According to a study by Ken Meter—one of the most experienced food system analysts in the United States—if everyone in southern Arizona shifted just $5 of their weekly spending on food to a local producer, we would generate $287 million in new farm income. When it comes to creating change in the local food system, your dollars really matter.
Finally, if you’re missing the 11 pages of Source Guide listings that are usually in the back of the magazine, don’t despair. We’re launching a digital version that will give you new and improved access at your fingertips, optimized for your mobile device.
As always, we’ll see you around the table. ¡Salud!
—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher