Edible Monterey Bay

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What should we eat? Not, what should we have for dinner tonight? But the bigger picture: What foods are best to fuel our bodies? And keep our planet healthy?

These topics were very much on our minds as we put together this Summer issue and questions about food ethics had people chattering. First, Bon Appétit magazine announced it was not going to publish any more beef recipes on its Epicurious website, then Netflix broadcast the documentary, Seaspiracy, which urged viewers to swear off eating seafood forever. “Pro-planet” concern for the environment was cited as the reason in both of these high-profile controversies.

With two articles about meat and one about seafood already in the works, it was clear we were jumping into the fray with both feet.

There’s no denying that raising cattle conventionally in concentrated feedlots has a high carbon footprint and contributes to global warming. We also agree that in many parts of the world industrial-scale fishing depletes ocean resources, and aquaculture causes pollution and other terrible problems. But fortunately for us, there are plenty of environmentally sound, healthy alternatives here in the Monterey Bay area.

Local ranches raise animals with care in a regenerative manner that enriches the soil, improves water retention and increases biodiversity. Read more about a new nationwide initiative by The Audubon Society to incentivize more ranchers to adopt regenerative practices, in our first Edible Communities signature section in this issue. Look for grass-fed meats that don’t damage the planet at farmers’ markets and at local supermarkets, or buy directly from the ranchers themselves.

Likewise, California fisheries are well managed. The Monterey Bay offers a sustainable source of food for us and provides livelihoods for small-scale fishermen in Santa Cruz, Moss Landing and Monterey. This means you don’t need to swear off seafood if you buy locally, from a CSF (Community Supported Fishery), at shops supplied by local fishermen or directly at the docks.

These are complicated issues and we don’t want to diminish their importance, but as in all things diet-related a sense of balance is important.

We realize that many of our readers choose not to eat animal products for ethical or health reasons and we respect those decisions. We also know that other readers take a more omnivorous approach. Some readers are vegan, others paleo, some are gluten free and others embrace an Ayurvedic approach. What do they all have in common? They care about where their food comes from. And that gets to the heart of what Edible Monterey Bay is all about.

Know your farmer, know your rancher, know your fisherman and when you eat out, be selective. Patronize restaurants where your chef can be trusted to source healthy “pro-planet” local ingredients. Guides to local CSAs and CSFs can be found on our website, along with our beautiful new Dine Local Guide.

And don’t forget to enjoy your food! We live in the midst of a remarkably vibrant regional foodshed. The selection of fruits and vegetables here is unsurpassed and so is the selection of local meats and seafood. Seek them out and buy them at all the wonderful advertisers that support this publication. Then let’s stop judging other people’s food choices and start appreciating all the ways we are alike.

It’s summer and the pandemic seems to be winding down, so—as the delightful sheep on our cover are doing—let’s get together again!

Deborah Luhrman

About the author

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Deborah Luhrman is publisher and editor of Edible Monterey Bay. A lifelong journalist, she has reported from around the globe, but now prefers covering our flourishing local food scene and growing her own vegetables in the Santa Cruz Mountains.