Grist for the Mill: September 2013

We go in search of the holy chiltepin.

September 12, 2013

Coyote TalkingIssue 2: September/October 2013

We knew we were on to something when more than 1,500 people gathered on a hot June night at Downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art to celebrate the launch of Edible Baja Arizona. Maybe it had something to do with the all the great food trucks, the super-cool venue that hosted us (thank you, MOCA and executive director Anne-Marie Russell!), or the smoking hot cumbia cranked out by Vox Urbana. But we got the distinct impression from all the love we received that people were downright excited to have in their hands a new publication dedicated to celebrating the revolution that is happening in our midst.

That revolution is about rebuilding a food system in Baja Arizona that says reliance on importing 95 percent of our food from elsewhere just doesn’t make sense; that re-localizing our food system is a strategic way to create jobs and strengthen the local economy; that the health and vitality of our community is enhanced when we pay attention to where our food comes from; and that celebrating the cultural connections that arise from paying attention to local food and drink directly improves the quality of our lives. This is the work of Edible Baja Arizona.

The arrival of fall is imminent, and that means it’s time to dive back into the garden, get outside whenever you can, and explore Baja Arizona’s amazing local food culture. Take time to marvel at this place we live.

The love kept coming as we distributed 25,000 copies of the magazine all over Baja Arizona. We felt like a Sonoran version of Santa Claus, dropping stacks hither and yon, from central Tucson to the far edges of Pima County, from Bisbee to Willcox to Tubac and beyond…nearly 300 stops along the way. Everywhere we went, we were met with smiles and thanks—it was truly gratifying!

And we are amazed by the response from the business community. In this second issue, more than 120 local businesses have supported the mission of Edible Baja Arizona. Please show them your love by patronizing them—they make it all possible!

Many of the stories in this issue are concerned with the optimism and excitement of youth: amazing school and community-based garden programs in Tucson; the astounding work of 12-year-old Haile Thomas to teach kids how to cook and enjoy healthy food; the journey of the founders of Sleeping Frog Farms. But we also delve into the stark reality of migrants crossing the desert: What foods do they carry with them as they brave some of the harshest terrain in the world? And we celebrate the chiltepin, the tiny, pungent, glorious source of capsaicin, the wild “mother of all chiles.” And there’s much more….

After living in Tucson for 43 consecutive summers, I like to think I’ve become adept at detecting the slightest nuances of seasonal change—or more likely, it’s merely wishful thinking that the harshness of summer is blessedly coming to an end, the inevitable result of our solar sojourn. In any event, the arrival of fall is imminent, and that means it’s time to dive back into the garden, get outside whenever you can, and explore Baja Arizona’s amazing local food culture. Take time to marvel at this place we live. See you around the table.

Doug Biggers

—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher

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