As I write this on the eve of el Día de San Juan—the traditional start of summer in Tucson—the skies are overcast and the desert smells like rain as tentative drops intermittently fall on a hot afternoon. It’s a comforting portent to have rain so early in June, bolstering confidence that the monsoons will make the desert bloom and keep the sky islands free from fire during this time of drought.
With this issue, we celebrate the start of our fourth year of telling the story of food and drink in this singular region of deserts and mountains we call Baja Arizona: a territory defined as the lands south of the Gila River, extending between New Mexico and California, and meandering freely across the international border into neighboring Sonora. Our mission remains clear: to build the case for a food system in Baja Arizona that makes us safer, happier, healthier, and more prosperous while celebrating the joys of eating and drinking in this place, and from this place, whenever possible.
The last three years have been an adventure and a privilege. Starting a print publication in this over-saturated digital age was, essentially, an act of faith. Faith that readers still had the attention spans to sit and spend time with quality bound printed material; and faith that local businesses would want to reach those readers by connecting with them in our proudly analog pages when the siren call of social media always beckons.
So far, so good—although we’d be fooling you if we didn’t tell you that this is an undertaking requiring vast amounts of human energy, patient capital, and the ongoing support of our amazing advertisers and subscribers. A major shoutout to the more than 20 businesses that advertised in our inaugural issue and are still with us in this 19th issue. Thank you! And to the nearly 200 businesses that now make this magazine possible … thank you! If you’ve ever thought about subscribing, I’d encourage you to exercise that impulse at your earliest convenience.
Lastly, and always, the incredible staff of Edible Baja Arizona never ceases to amaze and I must acknowledge them, again. I’ve worked with hundreds of fine folks since I started the Tucson Weekly in 1984, and this staff is a truly exceptional group of inspired professionals who keep me going every day. Editor Megan Kimble has been here from Day One and her contribution to the quality of the magazine is simply immense. Art Director Steve McMackin brings vividly to life the magazine’s mission with his indefatigable productivity, design sense, and attention to detail. Thank you both. And the rest of staff: Kate and Kate, John, Lyric (best of luck in Chicago), Bridget and Sally, Ford and Charity, our Brother Coyote Gary; stalwarts Steven Meckler and Jeff Smith, and the many, many other photographers and writers and illustrators with whom we have the honor of collaborating: Thanks to all. Onward!
Some highlights in this issue, of which there are many to discover: We’re pleased to showcase the work of one of the finest landscape photographers in the world: Jack Dykinga, a Pulitzer Prize winner who has made Tucson his home for decades. His extraordinary images of Baja Arizona wilderness accompany Megan Kimble’s feature story. In this centennial year of the National Park Service, Megan undertakes an exploration of the worth of wilderness which is, she says, “agriculture’s source and sustenance. Every input required to sustain a resilient farm begins on the level of landscape, from the wild organisms that build healthy soil to the pollinators that coax fruit from flower.”
Lourdes Medrano takes us into the Community Food Bank’s innovative culinary education program called Caridad Community Kitchen—where expectations for qualified low-income students are high, and more than 9,000 hot meals and 5,000 sack lunches are produced monthly, while also providing quality catering services to the community.
In this issue we launch Baja Brews, an exciting collaboration with the region’s craft breweries. In addition to a new section in the magazine and a video series, we’ll be hosting six tasting events over the year to showcase the use of different indigenous ingredients by local breweries.
A final shoutout to Danny Martin, the Tucson artist whose illustrations graced the pages of our Homestead section the last three years. We’ve redesigned the section in this issue, and want to thank Danny for his wonderful contributions. Check out his Tucson Neon Coloring Book, available at WoodandPulp.com.
As always, there is much more to discover in this issue. Celebrate print! Savor the magazine. We’ll see you around the table.
—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher