It’s been awhile since I’ve written, I know, so I hope you and Mrs. Claus are still at your old address at the North Pole. It’d be weird to think of you handling the business electronically from some offshore villa in the Grand Caymans, outsourcing the toymaking to elves in China or India—they do have elves there, too, right?
Anyway, enough with the small talk.
Stalking the wild wapato.
I’ve been pretty good this year…it may have been my best year yet since starting this writing gig. (Please don’t hold my old life in advertising against me, OK?) It’s been incredibly fun and rewarding to write about farmers, producers and organizations doing what back in the olden days they might have euphemistically called “the Lord’s work” trying to change our food system to one that is more just, more fair and healthier for consumers, workers, animals and the planet. A pretty big order, and one that’s too little discussed or even known about compared to, oh, say, who’s on Top Chef or who the latest Beard award winner is (or isn’t).
Organic farming students at Greenbank Farm.
Like, say, this last month. I’ve started a series of aggregated news stories about food called—get this for creative branding—“Food News.” Stuff like programs running farm schools to train the next generation of farmers who will be growing our food. Or how one state is rejuvenating native grasslands by promoting something called rotational grazing. Unfortunately it’s not all good news, like carcinogenic pesticides getting sprayed on lettuce in the field and…well…I’m sure you get a lot of this stuff in your in-box, too.
The Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
There was also the series of reports called Your Food, Your Legislature—again, creativity just oozes from every pore of my being—letting folks know what was going on in Salem’s back rooms that would affect the food they’re putting on their tables. And of course there were the contributions of Anthony Boutard and Jim Dixon, among others, who make this whole enterprise look much more respectable than it would otherwise.
Thinking deep thoughts over a Hopworks IPA.
And if you had even the slightest thing to do with sending over the terrific advertisers who’ve joined this effort, the incredible organic-beermaking and BCorp-certified folks at Hopworks Urban Brewery, the passionate-about-good-and-affordable-food people of Old Salt Marketplace and Grain & Gristle and, of course, my wonderful and crazy-about-wine brother Bruce at Vino, please put an extra candy cane in all their stockings. It’s the least they deserve for the great work they do!
As for me, actually, I haven’t done anything like Kartik Chadran, who designed a way to transform wastewater from a pollutant to a valuable resource and who really deserved his MacArthur genius grant. Or Svetlana Alexievich, who got this year’s Nobel Prize "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”
Oh, and btw, I really kind of got over that wanting-a-horse phase when I was in my teens.
But maybe you could send me some great people with good stories, and some cool places to explore so I can keep having fun and telling those stories. That would be super.
Thanks, Santa, and don’t forget the sunscreen!