Some of the best advice I was given when deciding to take the plunge into publishing Edible Austin was to put together an advisory group made up of trusted community leaders to whom we could go for advice and support. The resulting group of knowledgeable and committed individuals has given us a sense of connectedness to our Central Texas culinary and agricultural roots, with a generous dose of reason-for-being-here thrown in for good measure. Our primary mission, after all, is to celebrate the abundance of local foods and the people who grow, sell, cook, create and partake of the bounty. And to do that effectively, we must also nurture and protect our food resources.
So first let us define local. We’ve already been amazed at how many meanings that word can have. Within our 30-county area called Central Texas, local is the organic-vegetable-and-lemonade stand run by seven-year-old Alabel Chapin, her five-year-old brother Henry and their six-year-old friend Ford Martin. (We happened upon them in Austin’s Travis Heights neighborhood—see “1,000 Words ”) Local is the family ranch outside of Fredericksburg owned by Chuck and Teppi Schmidt, who raise pastured, grassfed beef using organic principles. Local is the soon-to-open Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress Avenue—independently owned by Brandon Hodge—featuring an old-fashioned soda fountain (p. 11). It may appear counter-intuitive, but lingering over a rare treat of a real egg cream soda counts as the art of slow food. Local is Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield’s Dai Due supper club (p. 18-19) where lucky diners are served an all locally sourced menu, family style, at Rain Lily, a gem of an urban farm in East Austin. Tamara met Jesse delivering Rain Lily’s vegetables to Vespaio where he used to work as a chef. Local is exactly about making that kind of connection.
Which calls to mind our other reason-for-being—to connect you, our readers, to all these wonderful local resources for good times and good food. We hope you’ll discover that eating local foods is better for you, more enjoyable. We plan to write lots about how individual consumers handle the economics of shopping sustainably. As Wendell Berry put it, “the locally produced food supply is the most secure, the freshest, and the easiest for local consumers to know about and to influence.” Edible Austin wants to make learning where your food comes from entertaining, empowering, and a great way to spend your time. Involving kids in the process is important. We’ll have kid-friendly and -tested recipes (p. 23) in each issue, as well as contributions from members of the youngest generation (p. 43). Included in our distribution locations are schools, libraries and community centers.