Editor’s Mixing Bowl

It’s the year of the green water tiger, emblematic of fierce attention to nature!

The upbeat Lunar New Year greeting above, received on February 1 from a member of our local fungi-enthusiast community, helped dispel a pervading gloom that had been darkening my world since COP26 (the 2021 United Nations global climate summit in Glasgow) ended in blah, blah, blah.

Could this Spring 2022 issue of Edible East Bay inspire readers to pay more fierce attention to nature? Could it shed any light useful for readers who are similarly groping through the climate crisis gloom? If you’re trying to be as fierce as my mycologist friend’s green water tiger on climate, here are some places in this issue to look:

Our What’s in Season writer, Barbara Kobsar, shows how to eat both the greens and the beans of the fava plant. It’s a valuable winter cover crop that helps build healthy soil, and the more fava you buy and eat, the more farmers can plant and harvest for market. That’s good for the farmer, good for the earth, and quite nutritious for you as well!

Gardener’s Notebook writer Joshua Burman Thayer shows how easy it is to reduce landfill-bound waste by feeding your morning coffee grounds to the plants in your garden. Even if you typically put the grounds in your green-waste barrel, it helps Waste Management reduce its carbon footprint if they’re not hauling your coffee grounds to their composting facility.

Discovery of native and naturalized food plants growing freely in a regional park drove writer Eva Barrows to go for “A Walk on the Edible Wild Side.” Whether we eat wild food or leave it growing in place, we can only respect and preserve that which we see and know.

Who doesn’t love mustard? Our big recipe feature on a beloved, important, and highly nutritious cultivated food plant reveals that mustard also grows wild all over the earth. In March, we see it blossoming in a haze of yellow between vineyard rows where winegrowers know the ecological value that wild mustard offers to their soil. A fast grower, it stays green for months, even as drought turns our local hills brown. These recipes will also help you eat more of those nutritious mustard greens, which helps keep up your strength for the good fight against climate change.

Writer Anna Mindess comes through with yet another compelling story on Indigenous cuisine as she covers Crystal Wahpepah, whose fall 2021 opening of Wahpepah’s Kitchen in Oakland is lighting a fire of national interest in intertribal foodways and drawing new attention to the Native reverence for the land. Learning about the ways that a newly inspired generation of Indigenous cooks pay deep respect to their food sources is adding momentum to the wider food movement we now label “regenerative” for how it calls on agriculture to grow food in ways that rebuild degraded ecosystems.

You may already be on the craft cider bandwagon, but did you know that one reason fermented beverage makers are embracing cider is that apple and pear orchards are showing extra resilience under climate pressures? Writer Mary Orlin’s cider story is a joint commission with our neighbor magazine Edible Silicon Valley, which is based in a region that formerly thrived on its tree fruit industry.

I’m especially excited about writer Rachel Trachten’s story on how worker-owned businesses strengthen community. One of the biggest deterrents in slowing the carbon economy is the fear of lost jobs, but preserving jobs does not always mean we have to keep supporting large, polluting industries. Worker-owned businesses bring workers more deeply into their communities, giving added reasons to care about and protect all that makes those communities livable. From that base of community investment, we can better enact changes that matter in the larger world.

Now, go out and get some craft cider and something good to eat in your neighborhood. While you walk, while you dream, while you eat, and while you act, be like the water tiger and pay fierce attention to nature!

Cheryl Angelina Koehler