We “Like” to Evolve

On Memorial Day, after shopping with the crowds at Concord’s Agway for some bark mulch and vegetable starts, I snagged a bottle of chocolate milk from their cooler near the checkout. And thereby hangs a tale.

It was an impulse buy. I didn’t even look at the price (pricey) because it was displayed with some hand-wrapped cuts of cheese so I could tell it was from a local dairy — two of my favorite words — though there was no logo or address printed on heavy glass bottle.

Back home, before returning to my gardening, I cracked it open and poured a small glass. It filled in ripples like a milkshake: creamy and roiling with rich chocolate and butterfat. When I took a sip, I found myself draining the glass and pouring more.

Then I had to call Agway. “Where in the world was this delicious stuff produced?” I asked. “Just up the road at Bartlett Farm,” I was told. A mental note was made and I’ve been singing the praises of Bartlett Farm chocolate milk ever since.

And often that’s how the great wins out over the meh — by accidental discovery and word of mouth. We were pretty far along with the production of this 2019 Best of NH issue at the time so we’ll be checking out Bartlett Farm as a 2020 Best of NH prospect, but no need for you to wait to try it yourself.

I’ve been making such mental notes for the quarter of a century that I’ve held this job. While the magazine has changed focus and names over the years, it’s always had a mission to discover and share what’s cool and excellent about the state, but a lot has changed in that time and, frankly, there’s a lot more that’s cool and excellent now than when I started.

This magazine deserves some credit for that, and so, most likely, do you, assuming you share your finds and faves as you traverse the Granite State and don’t just hoard them like some dragon sitting on a pile of gold in a cavern. (Speaking of dragons, check out the “NH Pulp Fiction” review here.)

Evolutionary science says that life on Earth, from the amoeba to the velociraptor to Pete Buttigieg, took shape in tiny increments of change over immense spans of time by blind forces guided only by, well, I’m still not really sure what’s guiding the blind forces, but then school wasn’t exactly my thing back when this knowledge was being dispensed.

There is nothing blind about the forces that guide the evolution of our state, however. Our progress is perhaps sometimes shortsighted, but we navigate with eyes wide open and we help each other out along the way ­— whether we know it or not.

Every affirmation you make, every endorsement you post, each time you point someone to a better choice, you are part of the process. That’s what concentrates talent in some towns, and industry in others. It’s what guarantees that Blink’s Fry Doe will remain a fixture on Hampton Beach in the 21st century, and it will determine which of the 20 to 30 Democrats combing the state for the next year will wind up the winner of our First-in-the-Nation Primary. It’s what brings people to our state in the first place or compels them, ultimately, to leave. Everyone is looking for something good, something better, something best.

I’m sure my college Biology 101 teacher is feeling a disturbance in the Force as I write this, but maybe something similar has been guiding human evolution all this time. Maybe God just crowd-sourced the whole operation to the seraphim. Maybe we’re nothing but the product of a few thousand millennia of angelic likes, thumbs-ups and “best” lists.

And, hopefully, they aren’t done yet.

Whatever the cause, we’re obviously all still works in progress, so here are a couple of hundred cool and excellent suggestions, chosen by readers like you and editors like me, to help us on our way to perfection.

Categories: Editor’s Note