If you’d asked me six months ago if I’d be publishing a new magazine focused on local food and drink in Baja Arizona, I would have given you a quizzical look. My “locavore” leanings long pre-date its “word of the year” designation in the 2007 Oxford American Dictionary, but a return to local media wasn’t on my to-do list (I co-founded the Tucson Weekly in 1984 and was its editor and publisher for more than 16 years).
That all changed one day last November, when I happened upon a Facebook post by my friend Jared McKinley—a short video about a family in Pasadena that was growing a vast amount of food on their small inner-city plot. I decided, impulsively, that promulgating the gospel of local food and drink, here in one of the most arid regions in the country, was going to be my next project. (The next thing I did was plant a garden.)
It turned out that Jared had been thinking along similar lines. And within hours of my epiphany, I learned that my old friend Gary Paul Nabhan—world-renowned ethnobotanist, writer and local foods rabble rouser, and the W.K. Kellogg Chair of Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona—was the patron saint of none other than Tracey Ryder, the co-founder and CEO of Edible Communities. EC is an amazing network of 77 independently owned publications in North America that are telling the stories about their respective foodsheds, celebrating the importance of local food and drink, and promoting their farmers, producers and purveyors. After many conversations, plates of delicious local food and a shot or two of bootlegged Sonoran Bacanora (for sustenance and courage), Edible Baja Arizona was born, and now proudly joins the EC family with this inaugural issue.
Eating (and drinking) 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.
On page eight you can read more about our mission, but I want to acknowledge a few people who have been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition: Thanks to the founding EBA team: Jared McKinley (associate publisher), Megan Kimble (managing editor), Serena Tang (design and production), Paul Mirocha (intrepid art director), our great advertising sales team of Becky Reyes, Stephanie Chace and Kenny Stewart; and, of course, Gary Nabhan, chair of our editorial board.
Steven Meckler, Jeff Smith and Bill Steen provided fine photography; gracias to all the writers (see our masthead), and to mis viejos amigos Hector Acuña for the map of Baja Arizona on page nine, and to Kay Sather for the illustration that accompanies the essay by our friends Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp (to whom we are especially grateful), and to our very own Andrew Weil, M.D., for his always wise words that end the magazine. And to the many other friends, supporters and family members who played important roles these last few months: ¡Gracias! And lastly: please make it a point to patronize the fine businesses that advertised in the first issue: they are fearless and deserving.
So, let us begin a lively and long conversation—in the pages of this magazine, online, and face-to-face. Eating (and drinking) 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. We’ll invite you to dinner!
—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher