One of the perks that comes with being the editor of a publication is the privilege of letting people know what you think—about the contents, about issues affecting the contents (or not), or about issues that seem to have nothing to do with anything at all (often the case in this column). Not that what appears in the Editor’s Letter carries any great import in the larger scheme of things, but it does (occasionally, at least) clarify, justify, explain, sometimes excuse, and often incite. Every editor’s insomnia begins with the nagging questions, “Is anybody listening?” and “Does anybody care?” It’s sometimes surprising what statements or positions draw the most rigorous response, but any response is always satisfying. (Hint: You want to get a rise out of the general public? Say something bad about tomatoes, as I once did.)
This is one issue, though, where we’re not picking any fights—it’s about as upbeat, happy and breathless as they come. It is, after all, spring, which around here means Restaurant Week. The Big One. The 114 Miles of Food event. The two weeks we anticipate for months. And judging by diners’ survey responses to last November’s Restaurant Week, it’s an event that just keeps on getting better and more popular. And a glance through Good Stuff (no Not-So-Good Stuff this time out) reinforces our opinion that the Hudson Valley is an awfully nice place to be—the stuff (food related and otherwise) being made here continues to increase and intrigue. Then take a look at the bulging New and Noteworthy section: More and better restaurants, breweries, distilleries are opening throughout the valley. All of this seems to point to an improving economy (also reinforced by the increased attention being paid to the valley as the major “food hub” for the entire Northeast). It’s no wonder the world is taking notice. (If you don’t believe us, see National Geographic.)
Not limited to the Hudson Valley but important nonetheless is the fact that kids are beginning to eat better at school (and that they actually like eating better, despite what the Nightly News says.) David Neilsen found there’s a conscious (and conscientious) effort in some Hudson Valley schools to make sure kids eat more healthfully in their cafeterias. In some cases that means eating organic–something that’s been on Francesco Mastalia’s mind for a while. So for two years he’s been interviewing farmers and chefs on the subject and, oh yeah, he snapped a few pictures of them while he was at it. Their own words and images speak volumes about what it means to be a farmer or a chef here.
So there’s no mistake, we won’t mince words: The beauty is in the faces and places of the Hudson Valley, in the efforts of the people who live and work here who are trying to make it better. Them’s fightin’ words.