With this issue Edible Boston begins its fifth year publishing. Quite a bit has changed over those past 16 seasons. What I find so interesting is the change in consumers' consciousness. Today, the term "local" is used everywhere and people are responding to it, asking for local products.

Is this a good thing? On one hand, if producers are honest about where they are indeed rooted, "local" consciousness will help farmers, food producers and food economies in communities all across the nation. If used improperly, the term will lead to further confusion among consumers and we will have another diluted term, much like "natural" or "organic."

But how do we define local? At Edible Boston, "local" encompasses the counties of Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Worcester. For Whole Foods, "local" encompasses the Northeast-and at the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets, it was decided that "local" encompasses New England and New York. None of these definitions is incorrect. It does mean that, as aware consumers, we need to ask the question of ourselves: How are you defining "local"?

Edible Boston's mission has always been to talk about our local food community. In the past, our summer issues have focused on farms and agriculture. This year, we decided to focus our attention not just on the farmers in our area but also on the chefs who are connected and working closely with them.

The list of chefs is endless and we couldn't begin to include them all. We at Edible Boston want to thank them all for stepping up to the plate and joining the mission. From local efforts all across the country, and around the world, food systems, economies and people are beginning to grow healthier.

Ilene Bezahler