One of the things I personally enjoy about Pinal Ways is that every issue provides an opportunity to explore Pinal through a new lens.

Sometimes we take a hard look at challenging issues facing our community, like the impact of COVID-19 on our local medical centers. At other times, we get to dive deep into the history and culture of the different communities that make up our county or consider how we can make the most of a particular time of year in our area, as we did in our last issue.

And then there are times where we get to explore a topic as rich and personal as food.

It’s deeply rewarding to live and work in a county that offers so much diversity when it comes to food. Though the range of options can, at times, feel spread out across many miles, getting to work on this issue showed us just how rapidly that is changing.

Even more exciting, these changes aren’t limited to the addition of corporations like Aldi, Sprouts and Salad and Go. While compiling the stories enclosed within these pages, we were equally thrilled and surprised by the number of new small food-based businesses that have decided to call Pinal home in spite of the economic impacts of the pandemic.

But whether it’s produced or provided by an international brand or a small local operation, it’s hard to deny the incredible story and power behind our food.

In getting to visit some of the businesses featured here and sitting down with owners, operators and managers, one thing that became very evident over the course of this edition is that we each have our special connection and relationship with food — and that connection is something that many restaurants and other food-based organizations share.

As you’ll see in some of these stories, as in our article on Sabor a La Michoacana in Coolidge, food can be such a gateway to understanding someone’s culture. Or in the case of the Hideout Steakhouse & BBQ in Casa Grande and the Queen Creek Olive Mill, a doorway to knowing another individual’s personal history.

And whereas other issues may divide us, food has a way of uniting us. In some cases, many of us are even united in our love for a specific food like hatch chiles.

Breaking bread is a tradition that stems back thousands of years — across different cultures, political lines, parts of the globe and — in the case of some celebrations like Day of the Dead— worlds.

There’s a sense of togetherness that we can get from sharing the food we love with others that can be deeply comforting. As our world continues to face challenges presented by COVID variants and a resurgence of cases, our hope is that there is still a bit of comfort that can be found in sharing the dishes, the restaurants and the places that make the edible landscape of our communities unique.

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