It’s been almost eight years since I came to work for this magazine. It was Fall 2010, Ilene was well into her fourth year publishing Edible Boston and she had just printed her 18th issue. The magazine was fairly thin then (around 65-70 pages, just like the one you’re holding now) but she had already grown the business enough to move from a saddle stitch to a perfect bind—less “newsletter” and more “journal.” The mainstreaming of “local food” as a trend was in its infancy, and across the country every town wanted its own farmers market, consumers began to expect locally sourced ingredients in every restaurant and independent artisan food businesses flourished. And Ilene and Edible Boston—along with the growing collection of Edible titles—had been there from the beginning.
From 2010 to 2015 we watched an astonishing growth spurt in both local food and food culture—from bloggers to food TV to social media and YouTube channels devoted to farm-to-table cooking—and we benefited from this enormously. We’ve always been supported entirely by advertising revenue, and from the start Ilene was committed to printing as many copies as possible and to give them away for free. With the help and support of the local food community, we thrived in those years, producing thicker and meatier issues, season after season, peaking at 128 pages (!) in the fall of 2015. We are so grateful for how many local food businesses spent their (limited) marketing dollars with us, and how many of their stories we have been able to tell over the years. They have been our lifeline, our ballast, helped us sustain our mission and secure our reputation as the only magazine in the greater Boston area dedicated to local food and the people who grow, make and eat it. We’ve always valued print over digital, preferring to give our readers something to hold on to, to collect and save, a tangible reminder of how things were before the smartphone took over the world.
But in the fall of 2016 something began to change. Between the move to digital media, the rise of free social platforms for direct-to-consumer marketing, the tenuous political climate we find ourselves in and mail-order competition forcing cutbacks at many small local businesses, we’re struggling to garner enough ad revenue each season to print the robust issues you’re used to. We’re back to 64 pages this season—a length we’ve not seen since late 2009—and not for lack of interesting things to write about. We had double the content but half the room to print it! Believe us, the local food movement is only getting more fascinating. With so much locally based high-tech innovation and agriculture (and the ongoing worldwide obsession with all things food), there are so many more stories out there to tell!
And you can help us do it.
At the end of 2017 Edible Boston became a 501c3 non-profit, under a new umbrella organization called The Food Voice. Now you, our dedicated and committed readers, can support our mission directly with tax-deductible contributions funding paper and printing, writers, photographers and artists, as well as the increasing costs of distribution. It remains our goal to produce a magazine that’s read by as many people as possible, from all walks of life, so the stories of local farmers, fishermen, chefs, activists and entrepreneurs will endure into the future.
If you love what we’ve done over the past dozen years, if you care about local food and agriculture, if you use our recipes or you just like pretty pictures of food and farmland, please consider supporting us with a donation of $50 or more via our website and get your copy of Edible Boston mailed directly to you. Through small (and large!) personal contributions we hope to thrive once again and print all the stories there are to tell, becoming a truly “Community Supported Publication.”
Thank you for reading, and thanks in advance for your support. We can’t do what we do without you!
Sarah Blackburn and Ilene Bezahler
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, vegetable gardener and managing editor of Edible Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org