Editor's Letter: Change Is In the Air

Food & Wine Editor in Chief Hunter Lewis introduces the January Mind and Body issue.

Photo: Ramona Rosales

I can't pinpoint exactly when the cannabis conversation began to change in the United States, but 2019 was clearly a watershed year for awareness and consumption. Conservative baby boomers in my family grappling with serious medical conditions were suddenly ordering THC edibles to increase their appetite and stave off anxiety. Across the country, chefs like Miguel Trinidad were chipping away at the stoner stigma by throwing cannabis dinner parties and launching high-end candies. Meanwhile, CBD, a product of marijuana’s nonpsychoactive cousin, hemp, wants to be the biggest thing since bottled water. Out in California, on a charity ride, my fellow cyclists were recommending a CBD salve to relieve tired muscles as we rode through a landscape where cannabis farms were beginning to compete with vineyards for prime growing space and customers.

Change is in the air, as we detail in “The Food & Wine Guide to Culinary Cannabis.” Now that medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and recreational marijuana is legal in 10, consumer perceptions and consumption patterns are changing in a major way. Not surprisingly for an agricultural product, farmers, chefs, and food innovators are leading the change in this $9.8 billion industry by bringing cannabis to the table.

Culinary cannabis might be a new topic for some of you, or even completely taboo. For others, it might be old hat. We’re publishing the guide to help you understand and navigate the changes in this brave new world, whether you partake or just want to be more informed. We don’t take this story lightly or ignore the privilege in being able to tell it, especially from Birmingham, Alabama, where I live. Marijuana is still illegal here, and like elsewhere in the country, even as legalization gains popular support, cannabis arrests continue to rise, and despite roughly equal usage rates, black people are arrested disproportionately—at nearly four times the rate of white people.

In addition to its culinary and recreational uses, cannabis can be a powerful tool for healing, which is why we’re exploring it in this Mind and Body issue to kick off the new year. Though the term wellness gets thrown around a lot these days, for us, food is at the heart of it. Wellness means taking the time to cook for ourselves and for others, to share a meal, to savor what’s in front of us. That’s the lens for this issue’s soulful comfort food recipes and essays; the instant classics in our ever-popular Handbook section; even the chef-inspired, indulgent pancakes (because a good breakfast is the ultimate form of self-care).

We are thrilled about the year ahead at Food & Wine and grateful for your company. Happy New Year.

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