As publisher of Edible Boston I have the pleasure of being part of the local Boston food scene but I am also part of a bigger, national group: Edible Communities. We meet yearly, we talk occasionally and we communicate daily on a listserv. Through this I am able to get a view of what is happening throughout the country, through the eyes of other writers and publishers.
This fall, for about a week we had many e-mail exchanges about organic versus natural versus local. How do we cover these issues? Do we write about a farm that is not certified organic? If the answer is no, then how do we write about local bakeries or restaurants that are not organic? There is no right answer; each publisher has his or her own criteria and comfort level for what is right. It usually comes down to what best supports and represents the community you are part of.
I keep going back to the concept of a food community and the elements that I believe are important. The key is sustainability: sustainability for the residents, the laborers and the land. Sustainability for the residents—can they afford to buy the food they need? Sustainability for the laborers—are they being paid a fair wage that they can live on? Sustainability for the land—are we taking care of it so that it remains viable for food production for future generations? A fine balancing act needs to be achieved.
Writing about local food is easy to do from a taste-good, entertainment perspective. At Edible Boston, we do not want to lose sight of that pleasure. But we do want to make sure that we do not deviate too far from our mission to insure overall sustainability for the future.
As we go into the holiday and winter season, take time to reflect on how lucky we are here in Massachusetts. We do a very fairly good job of keeping a sustainable balance, but for your New Year’s resolution I invite you to think about what little steps we each can take to do a little better.
To a happy and healthy 2012!