In Our Summer 2016 Issue
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
RISE OF THE TECHNOVORE
Many of us hold dear a notion that “farm fresh” food, if held to the rigors of its own weighty integrity, should be as plain and homespun as a newly picked zucchini ceremoniously handed directly from weathered farmer’s grasp to eager consumer with dollar bill in hand. It’s an exchange that passively and self-righteously thumbs its nose at the cellophane-wrapped, high-yield, industrialized food system, which makes up the vast majority of food purchased and consumed in this country. It’s a perception that is equal parts romantic and antiquated.
While some farmers and cultivators might relish the simplicity of working the land and livestock employing methods tried and true, consigning the business angle of their enterprise to an afterthought, technology necessitates that both producer and consumer grow up for better or worse. Tech startups like Farmigo, Barn2door, Good Eggs, and our local Farms2Tables (reported on in the spring issue of the magazine) are attempting to crack the big nut that is farm to consumer distribution by creating new food chains.
Enterprising farmers are utilizing mobile technology to chart distribution, monitor plantings and weather patterns, and even dispatch robotic technology into the fields in the form of robotic planters, weeders, and of course, drones. Investors have dumped $1.65 billion into e-commerce companies serving primarily small to mid-sized agricultural producers in the last 18 months. And with sales at farmers markets in decline (according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and CSA memberships becoming more competitive as well, it seems like high time for all of those involved, consumers and producers, to disabuse ourselves of a decade’s old notion of the locavore and embrace our inner technovore.
But don’t let such forecasting and prophesy intimidate you, this issue you hold in your hands (or are skimming on your screen) is not all about the dehumanization of our food system—on the contrary. We visit with butchery royalty Joshua Applestone to get a view into his very tailored idea on how to run a contemporary butchery, replete with automat-style vending machines for cuts of beef (Applestone Meat Co.). Herb farms are plentiful on both sides of the river and we meet four women farmers who are cultivating both edible and medicinal herbs on their modest farms. Route 212 serves as culinary escape as we make numerous stops between Saugerties and Bearsville on this storied Ulster County route. And then there is beer, and we look at an ambitious micro-brewery doing a farm-to-bottle brew right on the farm (From the Ground).
So embrace the new, honor the old fashioned ways, and for goodness sake, get outside this summer and eat your way through soon to be memories of perfectly ripened stone fruit, tender peas, plump blueberries and the like. Because now is all we have, and until someone masters some sort of VR simulacrum of summer in the Hudson Valley, we might as well bask in the fleeting romance of now.
-Eric Steinman, Editor