On a Sunday afternoon in mid-October, my wife and I made our way to the base of Sentinel Peak and entered the adobe-walled Mission Garden. This is where the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace are lovingly tending to the agricultural history of Chuk Shon, the Tohono O’odham words for “place at the base of the black hill.” A few hundred people had gathered to celebrate an early harvest meal at a long table adjacent to a glorious orchard of heritage fruit trees. A fundraiser for the Friends and Native Seeds/SEARCH, the event was a quintessential Baja Arizona experience: sitting down to share a meal in the very spot where people have grown and eaten food for more than 4,000 years. It was a way to reconnect with that singular sense of place that emanates from eating close to home.
Our own Kate Selby, who masterfully manages all our digital content, set out to make that very connection to place. At an editorial retreat earlier this summer, we floated a story idea about documenting 30 days of eating solely from sources within 250 miles of Tucson. Kate enthusiastically volunteered for the assignment and in this issue reports on the transformative impact it had for her and her family. As she reported in our September/October issue, before the experience, she had never visited a local farmers’ market. She discovers that “within the tents and tables of Tucson’s farmers’ markets, there exists the most delightful community: producers and consumers striving together to abandon the industrial food system in favor of a more human—and in the case of meat, milk, and eggs, more humane—way of sourcing food.” With a newborn in the house and a demanding work schedule, Kate discovered that the challenge wasn’t nearly as difficult as she imagined. “Every temptation I encountered was made more bearable by reminding myself that my choice to eat local was … a deliberate step toward supporting a more sustainable and diverse foodshed.” Get inspired by Kate’s journey and you might experience your own local eating epiphany.
Reconnect with that singular sense of place that emanates from eating close to home.
“I know what the desert is like…I know how hard it is…I know all they have been through. That’s why I want to cook well for them. We want to make it delicious. I always try to put love and flavor into the food.” These are the words of Mariana Serrano Reyes—a migrant who was deported when she attempted to cross the border four years ago—explaining her commitment to provide daily meals to recently deported migrants at a special place just across the border in Nogales, Sonora. Known simply as the comedor, this project of the Kino Border Initiative will serve more than 40,000 meals this year to deported migrants who are often left in Mexico literally starving after their experience. “The comedor has become a community center—and sometimes much more for many who have left or been torn from their communities,” writes John Washington. Providing these basic needs—a safe place and a delicious warm meal—can be transformative for the people who find themselves in this desperate situation.
In the waters off Mexico’s Gulf of California, more than 1,200 shrimp boats spend seven months every fall and spring in search of the most valuable fish Mexico exports. Maria Johnson takes you aboard the shrimp boats in her powerful photo essay on the industry. As she writes, “the environmental impact of bottom trawling is immense, primarily due to the high rate of bycatch, which totals more than 86 percent by weight in the region. This mean that for each pound of shrimp, there are nearly nine pounds of other organisms that are thrown back to the sea dead or injured.” Ultimately, consumers can have the biggest impact by demanding more sustainable fishing methods.
Megan Kimble visits a Tucson treasure known as HF Coors. Located just south of downtown, the company is continuing a nearly 90-year legacy of manufacturing durable dinnerware. The factory, Megan writes, “is 33,000 square feet of clay-covered motion; turning 20 tons of clay and 5,000 pounds of glaze into more than 25,000 dishes every single week…The pottery is imaginative, distinctive, diverse. It is heavy; it is homey. It is used in hundreds of restaurants across the United States, dozens in Tucson.” A genuine “made in Tucson” success story that you’ll want to discover for yourself.
And finally, a bit of magazine business: With this issue we are excited to move our printing from Denver to Courier Graphics in Phoenix. It will be splendid to be 90 minutes away from press check and to be able to support yet one more local business. We’re happy to be able to state that Edible Baja Arizona is “100 percent made in Arizona.”
As always, there’s much, much more to discover in this issue. We’ll see you around the table. ¡Salud!