2021-02SFC  Edible Austin Leaderboard

Publisher's Note

Welcome to The Wellness Issue. I promise we’ll stop welcoming you to each of our themed issues as soon as we’ve made the rounds of introducing them this year. As our first issue with this theme, however, I’d like to share a bit of background.

Perhaps you’ll notice a preponderance of children gracing the pages of this issue, along with chickens, hogs and farm dogs. This issue is about caretaking the next generation and about the creatures that instinctively caretake us.

While we focus on wellness for our families and our environment in this issue, there is also an underlying theme of “children and food.” It began with a collaboration last summer with the Children’s Environmental Health Institute to curate a photography exhibition called “Children and Their Food.” The exhibit was a continuation of their Picture the Children project—a visual exploration of children in their environment. This juried exhibition (a selection of photos is on pages 93-95, as well as on our cover) debuted at an international science symposium held last fall in Austin, and will be on display at our Wellness issue signature event, a “Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair,” on Sunday, April 7 at the French Legation Museum. With sponsorship from the Whole Kids Foundation, “Children and Their Food,” will also be touring the country, appearing at Whole Foods Markets in multiple cities. It cuts to the core of what it means for children to interact with and explore food on a visceral level.

In keeping with this theme, we decided to address how food is presented and served in the schools where our children spend a great deal of time as they grow up. As you’ll discover in our feature story by Kristi Willis, things are looking up. Armed with the mantra “School food is the solution, not the problem,” school-food activist Chef Kate Adamick cofounded Cooks for America, one of several organizations we found to be reshaping the future of food in our school systems nationwide. Making substative changes in institutional food service—in health care facilities as well as schools—is challenging but imperative.

Then there’s the up-close and personal. Weighing heavily on my mind are those among our family and friends who are not well and who are struggling with the consequential costs and horrific disruptions of their lives and livelihoods. These problems take more than a healthy food system to fix. It will take a communal effort, ideally supported by prescient government leadership, to create a safety net of health care for our at-risk farmers and small food artisans. Let’s have a community conversation around this at the Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair on April 7.