My article on Kentucky/southern Indiana wine is up at Edible Louisville. I’m pretty satisfied with the piece, given that it was written on a short deadline. The only thing that irritates me is the last paragraph, which I didn’t write. It mentions Kentucky being the home of North America’s “first commercial winery,” which is a popular belief with the local folks but not something supported by a lot of evidence. (There was a restaurant in Louisville that claimed to have invented the cheeseburger. I didn’t believe that, either.) Someone in the editorial process, operating under the heady influence of local lore, decided to insert that apocrypha without consulting me.
That is, surprisingly, pretty typical of the magazine business. There comes a time near the close of every issue when slap-happy editors just can’t resist the temptation to make things “better”. While that editorial input is often valuable — I’ve had editors save me from looking a complete fool — every now and then it’s embarrassing. A long time ago, when I was a full-time magazine writer on the west coast, an editor inserted a gossipy tidbit into an article I’d written. It turned out not to be true, and the celebrity it mentioned by name threatened to sue. I recall an uncomfortable phone call, the celebrity on one end bitching in his heavy New York accent, me on the other thinking my career as a writer was over.
Anyway, at least back then I was getting paid a lot of money; now I’m not. In this case, I worked for free, and when I do that I think the editors ought to leave what I write the hell alone. But that’s not how it works, and if I want it to work that way I should get a magazine of my own.
Here’s the lede of the article, which came to me while I was stuck in traffic:
We’re out there, we locavores, hunting and gathering local produce and protein. We shop the farmers’ markets and farm stands, and seek restaurants where the chef has a personal relationship with farmers — and farms where the farmer has a personal relationship with the Earth. We are a niche market growing so fast we’re characterized as a movement, doing right by our health, the local economy, and the planet as a whole.
“Customers are looking for exactly where their food comes from,” says Kathy Cary, proprietor of Lily’s-A Kentucky Bistro and a passionate advocate of local foods. “They look for the names of farmers they know from shopping at the farmers’ market. It’s quality and taking care of the countryside and community, the responsibility to help the farmers so they can stay farmers.”
The customers do not, Cary notes, extend this preference to their selection of wines, despite the fact that local wines offer the same economic and environmental benefits as local foods. Locavores may prefer that their pork tenderloin was raised on a verdant and humane farm just up the road, but they choose without thought wines produced in industrial wineries far away, wines that have tracked their carbon footprints halfway around the world.
Oooo. I tingle.
You know the drill: read it, and then send an email to the editor telling what a genius I am and how much you enjoyed the article. Except for the last paragraph.