A year ago we were scrambling to create a brand new magazine out of thin air. Just a month earlier we had convened a half-day retreat at the historic Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, seeking input from a broad range of folks involved in the burgeoning local foods revolution in Baja Arizona. And then we started racing a self-imposed deadline to have the inaugural issue on the streets by the first of June. What a difference a year makes.
In the first issue’s “Local Foods Manifesto,” we said: “Food is our most direct and enduring connection to the cultures, land, water, and weather cycles of our bioregion. In our pages, we will be using regional foodways as a lens into the social and environmental issues, the rich heritages, and the future options for living well in the desert despite our very real limitations.” We’d love to know, dear reader, if you think Edible Baja Arizona is achieving that objective. Its dogged pursuit has been our passionate pleasure.
We do know this: The response from our communities has been nothing short of astounding. Baja Arizona businesses have stepped up to support our mission of building a strong local foods economy, with nearly 250 of them becoming advertising partners in the last 10 months. As always, please make it a point to patronize our advertisers and thank them for making this publication possible. It is the single best thing you can do if you love the magazine.
Reader response has been just as enthusiastic and gratifying. We have a difficult time meeting demand for the publication, with many outlets running out of copies in just a few days. Immense gratitude to everyone—from our intrepid and hard-working staff to the large group of freelance contributors—who has helped make Edible Baja Arizona the largest of the more than 80 independently-owned Edibles in North America. We believe our work is just beginning.
In this issue, we have quite a few fish stories to tell.
Drive a few hours south of Tucson and you’ll be standing on the shore of the Sea of Cortez. Every year 170,000 tons of seafood is pulled from the sea, with most of it ending up on American tables. Megan Kimble chronicles the rise and fall of a more sustainable fishing industry in that part of the Baja Arizona foodshed and its longer-term prospects.
Lourdes Medrano tells the story of Las Mujeres del Mar, a cooperative owned and run by women in Puerto Peñasco that for three decades has farmed oysters in the estuary just south of town.
And Lee Allen revisits the 70-year history of Tucson’s Rodriguez Seafood, a business that has seen the many changes in the Sonoran fishing industry firsthand.
In a city—and a region—that has a plethora of outstanding pizza purveyors, the anticipation for the arrival of Chris Bianco’s Pizzeria Bianco is nonetheless palpable. Dave Mondy undertakes the task of unpacking what it means to call a given concoction of wheat, tomato, and cheese the “best pizza in America.”
There is much more: Profiles of Jefferson Bailey, a formidable culinary force in Tucson who is now doing exemplary work in the kitchen of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church; Boca Taco’s irrepressible Maria Mazon; sisters Marcela and Sandra Davila of the Little Café Poca Cosa, whose comida casera is flavored with love. A feature on Sunizona Family Farms, an innovative small farm in Willcox that is delivering nearly all of its “veganically” grown produce to local consumers. And a tale of friendship and meticulous attention to research, with former Air Force pilots, engineers, and mathematicians making the decision to grow grapes and make wine in the desert at Elgin’s Flying Leap Vineyards.
Enjoy this issue! We’ll see you around the table.
-Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher