Winter 2015 Issue
Edible Marin & Wine Country Issue #28 - Winter 2015
As I wrote in my Grist for the Mill for last year’s Winter issue of Edible Marin & Wine Country, I had high hopes then for the coming rains that would bring relief to our farmers and ranchers, as well as other good food producers on down the line, after four years of drought. Alas, they did not arrive as anticipated.
This year we head into the winter season with widespread scientific predictions, and, accordingly, high public expectations, of a record El Niño year of heavy rains up and down the State of California. ¡Sí, por favor! I’ll be watching for the storm clouds with all of my fingers and toes crossed.
At the same time, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is talking about delaying the opening of, or even canceling, the eagerly anticipated local Dungeness crab season this year. The reason for the drastic move is a naturally occurring toxin, domoic acid, related to the rise of a tiny plant called pseudo-nitzschia that has been detected in the crabs at levels sufficient to make eaters mildly to very sick, or even cause death. Officials won’t cite a reason for the toxic bloom, but many fisherman believe it is due to the unusually warm water temperatures along our coasts this year.
Thankfully, not all is doom and gloom. Real Good Fish, the sustainable seafood CSA, reports that one of the fishermen from whom they source believes that if the deep ocean upwells occur in late fall, as they generally do this time of year, the cooler, nutrient-rich waters will cycle up and the crab will be able to rid themselves of the toxins in time to save the season—and dry the tears of many Bay Area denizens for whom it would not be Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve without their beloved Dungeness. Another addition to my early wish list for Santa this year.
All of this brings me back to being deeply grateful for the farmers, ranchers, fishermen and other hardworking folks who labor every day of the year to put delicious, nourishing food and drink on our tables. For them, the vicissitudes of the seasons are not just something to sigh over, they may well determine whether their own families will have enough to eat. By consistently choosing locally produced food and drink, and paying a just fare to their producers, we ensure that they will be able to keep doing what they do, so we can keep doing what we love to do: gather together with friends and family at a table filled with local bounty, especially during the holiday season.
Cheers to a wonderful holiday season for you and yours, with plenty of rain and crabs!