Tucson and its borderlands terroir got some delicious media attention during the dog days of August. Within the space of a week, two of the nation’s largest newspapers published glowing stories about Tucson’s food scene and its recent designation as the only UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States.
For several hours, our fair city was literally front and center on the New York Times’ website with the headline “Tucson Becomes an Unlikely Food Star,” followed the next day in print with a huge spread on the front page of the Food section, with nearly a dozen photos, including one of eBA’s editor Megan Kimble shopping at the Heirloom Farmers’ Market at Rillito Park. ¡Híjole!
And just days before that, USA Today gushed about our restaurants, brewers, and distillers—almost all of them regular Edible Baja Arizona supporters and story subjects during the last three years.
In both stories, the writers began to understand what makes our gastronomic terrain worth special recognition. As quoted in the Times’ piece, Megan Kimble said: “Tucson has really figured out the connection game.” That sentiment was echoed by other sources in both stories. The Times story also prominently featured Edible Baja Arizona: “[Kimble] pointed to strong advertiser and reader support for the magazine as just one example of the love people have for local food in this city of about 500,000. The magazine consistently has more advertising pages than any of the other 90 published under the Edible Communities umbrella in the United States and Canada, said Nancy Brannigan Painter, the executive director of Edible Communities.” Take a bow, Edible Baja Arizona advertisers and readers!
All of us who live, eat, cook, produce food, and work diligently to create connections in Tucson can be proud that the UNESCO designation is bringing international attention to Baja Arizona. It’s just the beginning of what we can do together to craft a vibrant, diverse, and prosperous local food economy.
A staff note: Kate Kretschmann, whose title of Business Coordinator is shorthand for The Person Who Handles Every Little Detail—of Which There are Hundreds—with Aplomb and Good Humor, has been an invaluable addition to the eBA team. Managing nearly 200 advertising partner relationships, more than 1,000 subscribers, and the myriad and minute details entailed with publishing a top quality magazine every eight weeks is a mammoth task. As the central hub for all business data and interactions, Kate has worked tirelessly and with alacrity to organize and improve systems that make life better for everyone involved with this project—and for this we are profoundly grateful!
This twentieth issue is full of wonderful surprises, with some new voices and feature stories that you can sink your teeth into.
Being a farmer is often an impossibly difficult endeavor. Being a woman and a farmer can be even more daunting. But as Debbie Weingarten writes in her feature on female farmers, women are increasingly “becoming the change-makers and innovators of small-scale agriculture.” And yet, it’s a tough row to hoe, with “female farmers fighting to be taken seriously in a field that still views women as an anomaly.” Another excellent reason to make it a point get to know your farmer—male or female—and support them by patronizing farmers’ markets, CSAs, and seeking out genuine local sources at retail grocers.
The importance of trees in a hot and arid place like Tucson can’t be overstated. Lisa O’Neill’s feature on edible trees introduces you to the good work of LEAF (Linking Edible Arizona Forests), an organization that “encourages and promotes the planting, care, harvesting, and celebration of edible trees, including native and cultivated species that yield fruit, pods, nuts and other products for people, wildlife and the environment.” And you’ll meet others who are helping to grow an edible forest in this desert environment. Plant a tree—and its water—today!
As always, there is much more to discover in these pages. Please enjoy and celebrate the connections that make Baja Arizona such a magical and inspiring place. We’ll see you around the table. ¡Salud! ✜
—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher