Editor’s Mixing Bowl

As some readers know and others don’t, Edible East Bay is a member of Edible Communities, a large family of magazines sharing a commitment to reporting on the local, sustainable food movement. As of August, when our Harvest 2010 issue comes out, Edible East Bay will have been publishing under that mission for five full years. As I think back to 2005 and the wave of contemplation that swept over me when I began this work, I specifically recall a conversation I had at a party with a fellow who was part owner of a business that imports flowers from Mexico for sale to Bay Area consumers. He told me that the flowers his company sells were being raised organically and sustainably. Being in a feisty mood, I asked him to clarify two points.

“Since the flowers are not intended as food, why does it matter that they are organic, and what does ‘sustainably’ mean, anyway?” His simple answer went a long way toward addressing both parts of my question: “It matters to the workers at the flower farm and to the people in Mexico living near the farm.” As we talked through all the aspects of meaning attached to the term “sustainability,” I realized what a complex web of considerations makes up any commitment to operating a “sustainable” business.

Five years later, and especially since the recession began unfolding in 2008, I think that many of us have become a lot more sophisticated in our thinking about what makes up a commitment to sustainability, and we’re finding it’s a moving target—a process rather than a goal. Today we have more opportunities to learn how we might change our habitual thinking, and better choices in ways to put that knowledge to use. I see so much evidence of this as I edit our ever growing and wildly popular Events section, as I get to know what the advertisers who support this magazine have to offer, and of course, as I choose and edit the articles.

As the “green” movement has flowed into the mainstream, we see a lot of jumping onto the bandwagon with token words or deeds that have spawned the term “greenwashing.” It makes me understand that keeping the conversation relevant in this movement requires that we keep asking what the words mean and how they are being acted out. Veteran journalist Tim Kingston’s piece in this issue does just that. I was rather startled when it came in, since we have never published anything that probes so deeply. It’s a long article on a subject that might not be as fun or delicious as bugs or cookies, but I feel that it’s worth every minute spent reading and contemplating the questions it wrestles with.

Of equal interest are Matthew Green’s report on the utterly admirable self-scrutiny going on at Saul’s Deli, Sage Dilts’ inquiry into the value of meaningful work and community-supported businesses, and the alternative views on bugs and weeds presented by Helen Krayenhoff and Jillian Steinberg. I’m surprised and delighted by this convergence of thought-provoking material, but then why should I be? The East Bay is ground zero in this movement, is it not, after all?

Happy reading,

Cheryl Angelina Koehler
Edible East Bay

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