It's been such a challenging summer in the garden that it has had me thinking a lot about the meaning of food in our lives. Yes, our basic need of food is for sustenance, but throughout human civilization, food has taken on so many meanings in our lives. It can be emotionally healing, a cultural tradition, a remembrance of travel, adventure and exotic challenges, comfort and celebration. Every major milestone in our lives is marked with a special meal, a gathering of friends and family around the table: anniversaries, birthdays, engagements and holidays.

We are lucky in this day and age that food is so readily available for us. If our farmers' market doesn't have it or a crop failed in the garden, we can just head to the local grocery store to fill in the gap. It's only within the past few generations that this has been the case and in many of our nation's poorest communities and around the world, a failed crop means hunger for the community.

It's important to remember how lucky we truly are to have such a bounty this harvest. It's not only a time to celebrate, but also a great time to remember the hard work and struggle of our pioneer forebears—check out William Walton Days and the Music & Molasses Festival to experience the past!

On the other end of the spectrum is the lavish display of food and drink at the Music City Food + Wine Festival, a true paean festival celebrating the highest ideals of cooking and the celebration of a chef's skill to elevate a meal to artistic levels.

Thanks to all those who helped pull the fall issue together and continue to support Local Table in helping to connect Middle Tennesseans to local farmers and food artisans.

Harvest blessings,
Lisa Shively