“Without clean water, we do not have healthy food,” Chef Becky flat-out states. She adds: “We don’t have food, period.”
Hunterdon County residents and visitors don’t worry about water too much, since the Raritan River runs down the valley, and the area’s natural, bucolic environment is generally well-managed, including its watershed. There are some exceptions. As we’ve noted previously, Chef Becky grew up in an area of the county that was subject to dumping. “When I researched the water, I was shocked to learn that benzenes were at 19%,” she laments. Benzenes are one of many forever chemicals that as their name implies do not break down or dissipate in toxicity. “There’s no way you can have toxic chemicals in the water and not have it impact people’s health, or what is grown for food in an area like that,” she notes.
Water is Life
Fortunately, the Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) takes pride in Hunterdon’s abundant and iconic waterways. Food-wise, Hunterdon County once surpassed Georgia for peach production. The Califon Historical Society has wonderful memorabilia about not only the peaches that came out of Hunterdon, but the local creamery, early mills, and area farms that gave the Garden State its enduring moniker. If you’ve ever wondered how much water goes into growing food, imagine a big juicy watermelon or a fruit or vegetable that is largely water. Raising beef is especially water-intensive.
Water in the Future
The popular film of a few years ago, Mad Max: Fury Road, marked a significant shift in thinking from the previous films’ emphasis on fuel shortages (inspired by the gasoline shortages of the late 1970s): in this installment, water is the key resource competed for. In a world experiencing rivers drying up and oceans changing, it symbolizes a universal concern. Recent scientific studies just revealed that forever chemicals are now present in all rainwater on earth, and water is of course (re)cycled, so forever means forever. Futurists predict that water will, indeed, become a key resource battled over in the 21st century.
While the situation is currently challenging, in Part Two of this article we will be looking at possible solutions to the water issue, as well as what is going right in the water world. At the local level, New Jersey is a peninsula with water sources to the north, and as one of the oldest states, water has been managed for centuries for a densely-packed, high population. Bex Kitchen uses high-quality ingredients and Chef Becky has well-developed experience with selecting the finest ingredients. When we researched mushroom-added foods, she was able to detect tastes in the item that others missed. Check out Part Two for more on water.