LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
At the Table: Champions for Change
Fall brought some good news to New Jersey.
For the first time in state history, a local wine, the 2014 Vintage Brut by William Heritage Vineyard, earned a 90-point score by Wine Advocate. The 90-point benchmark is significant; wines rated between 90 and 94 are considered outstanding.
In Jersey City, Razza earned a three-star review by New York Times critic Pete Wells, who exalted the charms of the restaurant’s pizza, along with the skills of Dan Richer, a chef who nerds out on dough, bread, butter and meatballs.
The mission of Edible Jersey, from the first issue published 10 years ago, is to celebrate the farmers, artisans and entrepreneurs of the Garden State. We’ve written about Richer (Summer 2014), and we’ve reported on Heritage Vineyards (Fall 2015).
These hard-working, passionate people do not live and work in a vacuum. They rely not only on our support but on the support of an infrastructure that welcomes and celebrates them as well.
How do we keep farmers in the Garden State? Farming is an extraordinarily difficult job. In New Jersey, property is expensive and our farmers are getting older. How do we assure access to farmers’ markets, for both consumers and farmers? How do we best assure that our environment is safe? Our waters are clean? How do we address issues of food waste? Food deserts? Sustainability?
These are issues critical to our readers.
In fact, many readers were pleased with our Fall Issue, and our pursuit of answers to food policy questions from our gubernatorial candidates. We did hear from one or two readers, however, who questioned that decision. Why, we were asked, insert politics into food?
Food is health, business, entertainment, culture. Food also is politics. Here at the magazine, food is such a central part of our daily lives that we often are surprised to discover that such is not the case with others. Our elected officials are often unaware of food policy issues. They are often unaware, for example, of the extraordinary financial and logistical obstacles a restaurateur or a cheese-maker may face. In New Jersey, it’s cheaper and more convenient for consumers to buy big-box produce from China than it is for consumers to buy fresh produce from Hunterdon County. The delivery system favors the big-box model. That should change, to the benefit of both farmer and consumer.
We hope, through our work, to make these issue more visible, and to encourage a dialog that continues to champion and support the artisans and entrepreneurs in the state.
In the meantime, join us in congratulating Dan Richer and Penni and Bill Heritage.