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from the publisher



“Farm, Food, Gratitude” kind of says it all. Our pictorial title reflects multiple themes in this issue. Sadly, we’re galloping into a digital future of synthetic food. Did you know that food no longer needs to be grown in the ground or raised on a farm? Thanks to genetic modifications and gene splicing, food can be produced in a lab. If this is the brave new world we’re entering—I dunno. Call me a conservative fundamentalist but I still believe my food should come from the ground—a farm—and not a petri dish.

English GMO activists Claire Robinson and Michael Antoniou examine this wave of synthetic biology from a health perspective in their essay “The Impossible Burger: Is It Safe?” The saying that emerged as part of the anti-GMO education movement now resurfaces with deeper meaning, suggesting that GMO stands not just for genetically modified organisms but also “God Move Over.”

My interviewee, Mark Squire, part of Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax since 1969, is someone I increasingly admire. For one, he is responsible for creating what I sometimes joke is the Happiest Place on Earth, as his grocery store has expressed the essence of Fairfax’s unique and vibrant activist community vibe for 50 years. Though soft spoken, he has been a leading voice in the organic food movement since its earliest days. He quit school in Connecticut at 16 and, armed with a few spiritual books and a copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, moved to Fairfax hoping to meet other like-minded foodies. He slept in a tent behind the original site of Good Earth and it went from there. 

My other interview is with Chuck and Sue Kesey. They met on a blind date as freshmen at Oregon State and married in 1960, the same year they founded Springfield Creamery, known for Nancy’s Probiotic Yogurt. Chuck’s famous novelist brother Ken Kesey is the counterculture icon who wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962 and went on to lead the Merry Pranksters. In 1964 Chuck rode Further on the virgin cross-country bus trip to New York—a good story among many. The earliest pioneers of the probiotic movement, Chuck and Sue introduced Lactobacillus acidophilus into yogurt in this country as the hippie food was just starting to take off in the late ‘60s. Now it’s a mainstream practice. And you’re going to want to read the stories about how the Grateful Dead bailed them out in 1972.

In other stories, Saeeda Hafiz tells a beautifully inspiring one of growing up black and wanting to escape her abusive and traumatic past. In her search for upward mobility she inadvertently discovers deliverance in the yin and yang of food. Nick Nutu shares his deep passion for forest foraging and provides important tips. Shelley Karpaty, a fan of the late Anthony Bourdain, makes the case for the famous food reporter being a yogi in disguise. Dr. Michelle Perro, a local medical expert, walks us throughthe challenges of trying to feed our children in an increasingly complex food world.

Thanks to you, Common Ground is in its 45th year! Please show your appreciation and support by simply patronizing its advertisers—the best. And consider becoming an advertiser yourself and supporting local independent media—a good thing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Eat Up,
Rob Sidon
Publisher/Editor in Chief