This issue of The Valley Table is just plain fun. All you closet vegans out there can tag along with Nava Atlas as she samples the fare from some of the valley’s growing number of vegan restaurants. Then call Uber and let Bryan Miller tempt you with a draught or two of local beer while he reviews the state of the craft in the region. To help you with your hangover, there’s three versions of poke (of “about a billion,” says Robin Cherry) that may help brighten up your day or, if you wake up in Beacon, head over to Kitchen Sink, where, David Handschuh tells us, you can ease yourself back to reality with a heavy dose of real food—literally the way owner Brian Arnoff’s grandmother used to make it. If you still feel like traveling, join our resident farmer/writer Keith Stewart on an 8,000-mile journey back to his New Zealand roots, where he takes a look at the country’s agriculture—organic and “conventional”—as well as its expanding and lucrative meat industry. (You can eat all the kiwi fruit you can pick, but just don’t bother the hairy little critters that pass as birds down there.)
Wait, there’s more. We’ve always promised to examine issues that affect the economics and politics of the food produced, processed and consumed in the Hudson Valley—the back stories, as they say on TV—and this issue is no exception.
Jeff Storey looks at the boom in solar farms and their potential impact not only on the energy industry, but also on the region’s economy. Who would have thought that a seemingly benign energy source like solar power arrays, which produce relatively cheap electricity with no moving parts, no noise and no toxic emissions, could stir up an economic and political controversy that goes to the very heart of the region’s agricultural economy: Is farmland more valuable as a source of crops or as a source of energy, and who has the right to decide?
Associated with the current boom in craft beer statewide is, of course, a fortune in state licenses and tax revenue. But there’s a concurrent economic incentive for local farmers to increase the acreage they devote to growing hops or barley in order to help brewers meet state mandates. In the Hudson Valley at least, demand still outstrips supply. And, not to let sleeping fish lie, even poke—a wildly popular raw fish “bowl” available in dizzying variety, has a more serious side: the state of our oceanic fishery and the growing threats posed by overfishing of some species, the devastating ecological damage caused by open-ocean fish farming, and the seemingly uncontrolled pollution from many sources worldwide. To eat or not to eat is more complicated than it seems.
We have an embarrassment of riches here in the Hudson Valley—of resources, people, spirit. We hope you find the small sampling in this issue as compelling as it is delicious.