After a slow, cold start to the growing season, no one is talking about a bumper crop this year. But, regardless of the weather, we are in the happy midst of an avalanche harvest.
The abundance-seeking audience—committed to celebrating and tasting our local food and drink—has swollen like so many beefsteak tomatoes, bushels of sweet corn and schools of bluefish.
You see our proliferating tribe in line for lunch at ingredient-conscious Chipotle, forcing General Mills to remove all artificial flavors and colors from its corporate pantry, and demanding that chains like Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Domino’s pay their workers more, buy cage-free eggs and eliminate landfill-clogging packaging.
We like to think of this as the Edible-plus audience. They aren’t our hardcore readers, but they could be a neighbor, friend or relative on the verge of making a big food change. That means a bigger, more joyful tent to eat under.
Island-brewed beer at farmers markets, corn-infused ricotta cheese, a farm-to-table cocktail culture at Nick & Toni’s, a Long Island house wine for the Freedom Tower—all described in this issue—didn’t exist a short decade ago when we launched Edible East End. Now they are wondrous, wonderful realities.
Look to the road-food role model of Dave Matthews Band, which puts its rural-minded money where its mouth is by feeding its crew locally sourced, home-cooked meals while on tour, including Balsam Farms’ corn and Shinnecock striped bass, with the aid of food concierge Rustic Roots.
How about Robert Parker scores? Since we launched Edible, the venerable Wine Advocate has reviewed our region three times, including earlier this summer. An averaging of the scores from each visit shows marks floating from high 80s to mid 90s. Hello? Trending.
And while our food community has new friends every day, we also see an ally in the technology seeping into our food chain—from smart tractors to apps that match wasted food with hungry mouths—and moving the sustainable food needle where old tech has failed.
Our tastes are growing smarter and more exploratory, opening up new gastronomic frontiers defined by garlic scapes, Montauk sea bream and other underloved ingredients. Could “guaranteed absolutely pure” clam juice, like Doxsee Sea Clam Company sold since 1865, find fans among retro-seeking hipsters and the nutrient-hacking Paleo set? We think so.
What has evolved the most, perhaps, is the culture around the people who grow our food. Long Island agriculture could not exist today without the Latino migration of the past 30 years, and the formation of the Long Island Latino Vintners Association is just the latest recognition of those who feed us. Whether vineyard crews, mushroom sellers, poultry tenders or 13-year-old baymen who check eel traps after school, we will always be ready to lift a glass and toast all those who make our collective meal possible.