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Editor’s Note: In the Land of 10,000 Tomatoes

Executive editor Mateo Hoke on September's green issue where we talk the environment, plant-based living, and sustainability
San Diego Magazine Cover September 2023 Green Edition

Cover of San Diego Magazine’s September 2023 edition

Life on Earth is astonishing. The more I learn about the intelligence of fungi, or about the unique dialects of whale pods, or about how many different kinds of tomatoes there are (10,000!), the more I fall in love with simply being alive. A person could study this planet for a thousand years and not fully comprehend it.

In honor of our breathtaking planet, we’re sharing stories that help us better understand the environment here in SD. In this issue we witness the freeing of the first river in Southern California. We explore San Diego’s efforts to build toward a greener future (spoiler: there’s room for improvement), and, we spend a visually stunning day at one of the best farms in the country (where they grow 80 kinds of tomatoes. 80!). It’s a cool issue. Mother Earth, after all, is a charismatic cover star, wild and fascinating.

I love it here on Earth, where wonder surrounds us. I’ve consumed plants that have altered my neurological pathways. I’ve lain on my belly in the sand, watching baby sea turtles crawl a slow journey from nest to ocean, wishing them well as they wiggled their flippers for the first time in the shallow waves of the Pacific, knowing they will someday return to that very beach to lay eggs of their own. And, perhaps most incredible of all, I’ve welcomed a slippery human child fresh from the great cosmic center, kissed his forehead, and held him as he breathed his first breaths.Talk about wild.There’s real magic in this world. San Diegans know this. Our region is soundtracked by a symphony of waves and blessed with a full spread of the best features Earth has to offer. But this planet’s ecosystem is built on balance, and we’re tipping. Sad news keeps coming, feels like a storm that might never pass.

Globally, July 2023 was the hottest month on record. Ever. The Gulf Stream—which carries warm waters from the Caribbean into the Atlantic—appears to be collapsing earlier than predicted, bringing catastrophic impacts. Billions of people could lose the rain they count on to grow food. The Amazon is suffocating, the lungs of our world struggling to breathe.

It’s scary. I worry for my young son.

I want him to experience all the delicate enchantment in the world that I do. I want the planet’s lungs breathing strong. I want to know the turtles will keep hatching for him, and for those who come after. I want to go to bed at night knowing the world is growing bigger for him, not shrinking.

I want to do all I can.

But sometimes it’s difficult to know what that is. One of the things I’ve learned in my four decades on this planet is that if something scares you, go toward it. The faster you run at the storm, the faster you get through.

So we’ll keep sharing stories that help us more deeply connect with our world. And I’ll take every opportunity to show my son how lucky we are to call this planet home, where there are 10,000 tomatoes to taste—80 of which can be found just down the road.

By Mateo Hoke

Mateo Hoke is San Diego Magazine’s executive editor. His books include Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary, and Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation.

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