Take Comfort in Radical Change

Things have changed a bit since we began publishing Edible Austin in 2007. There is more awareness about why we should care where our food comes from and how it directly affects our health and the future of our planet. There is more sustainably and locally produced food that we can buy at more farmers markets, eat in more restaurants and find in more grocery stores. That is good. And that is satisfying. But that is not enough. The world is plunging toward an end-game scenario that is not what I would wish for my grandchildren—or theirs.  We can see the writing on the wall in climate change research and population models that predict degrading conditions—environmental, geopolitical and financial—for nature-based food production worldwide, which is the heart and soul of our existence.

What it will take for us to tilt the balance back is radical change. Naomi Klein, in her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” posits that dealing with the consequences of climate change not only requires a new economy but a new way of thinking. When I heard her speak about this on National Public Radio recently, my spirits lifted. Incremental change may feel safe, but we could also choose to take comfort in a more radical shift to accomplish what we envision for the future. 

Enter chef, author and food activist Dan Barber. He practices a radical new approach to cooking in his highly acclaimed Blue Hill restaurants in Manhattan and at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in upstate New York. He asserts that our role in the natural system of things as eaters and providers of food to eaters is to honor the process of preserving the soil and oceans that give us our food by supporting them wholly and not just cherry-picking their boutique offspring. If rotation crops are part of the cycle of nourishing the soil that produces the ingredients we traditionally have demanded, then let’s also incorporate those crops into our menus, our shopping lists and on our plates. This gives stronger financial support to farmers and rewards stewardship of our limited earthly resources. Join us at the Paramount Theatre on Monday, December 8 to hear him speak.

Our Heirloom issue honors things past, and in doing so hopes to preserve our future. In this issue, we’re featuring your granddaddy’s donuts, grandmother Billy’s fried chicken, one of Texas’ pioneering and persevering wineries, the history of rice production in Texas, and what barbacoa was before mad cow disease altered it forever.  

Comfort food is part of the fabric of our lives. And we can take comfort in doing whatever it takes to preserve this for future generations.