by , Jul 10, 2009, 12:02 PM
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The term "salad days" has taken on a new meaning in our house.

  We increased our membership in a local Community Supported Agriculture farm to a full share this year, meaning we get a full box of produce every week instead of the half box we had been getting in years past. As a result, I've had more romaine lettuce than I know what to do with. Thankfully, I was able to unload much of it by making a gigantic Caesar salad for a neighborhood meeting this week.

I'm hoping edibleWOW will offer recipes to help me use up future loads of veggies since it focuses on what's currently in season. And since what's in season varies from state to state, the magazine's parent company publishes 46 localized versions with copy written by and about local produce and producers.

In 2002, Edible Communities, Inc. co-founders Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian decided to publish regional magazines devoted entirely to authentic foods and culinary traditions, seasonal cooking and the local food movement. The company launched with the debut of edibleOjai in California. Today, the local publications have a combined print run of 5 million issues per year, with an annual readership of over 15 million. New Yorkers have edibleManhattan and edibleBrooklyn and soon will have edibleQueens. My version, edibleWOW, serves southeast Michigan and has been around since spring 2008. (Most of the pubs include a city in their name, but since this version includes many cities, its editors went with something unique to signify that there's a lot to check out in the region.)

The magazine operates through license agreements with individuals who live in the communities they publish in, which means all Edible Communities magazines are locally owned and operated. The southeast Michigan edition contains a plethora of local ads that are as informative as the copy. I've found new places to shop and restaurants to check out and also have rediscovered some old standbys. The magazine also includes national advertising from progressive companies like Organic Valley and Eileen Fisher.

The Edible franchise seeks out people, places and things that make each region unique and interesting to readers. For example, one of the markets in my area has been in operation since 1909. The Lansing City Market is changing with the times and is about to move into a new location designed as an environmentally sustainable space, with greatly reduced energy costs; the market's current utility bill adds up to about $50,000 per year.

Printed quarterly, the magazines include recurring columns like "Liquid Assets," which profile wineries, brew pubs and the like that use local ingredients and "Farm to Plate," which highlights local farms whose produce is heading for local dinner plates. "Notable edibles" is a series of shorts at the front of the magazine with the latest news on local food. Also included are seasonal recipes, farmers' market directories and event listings.

I was pleased to see my CSA, Maple Creek Farm, featured in the current issue under the "Farm to Plate" section. If more people knew about community-supported agriculture and bought their produce locally, the family farm wouldn't be on its deathbed. Unfortunately, the article says, memberships are down this year amid the lousy economy, and the farm has been forced to find sources of revenue besides produce, such as plants. Despite the sacrifices the Lutz family has made over the past 15 years, the article says farmer Danny Lutz still finds satisfaction in seeing things come up out of the ground. "It means the soil is alive," he explains. "You have to treat the soil like a living organism."

The magazine does a good job of seeking out locally grown food in unusual places. "Food as Medicine" made me rethink my attitude toward hospital food. A local hospital system has brought in a nationally renowned chef to overhaul its food service to include as much locally produced food as possible, much of it gourmet. "Vegetables on the Playground" details a schoolyard garden at a local middle school which is helping to integrate experiential and agricultural lessons into the curriculum. My family always had a huge garden when I was growing up but not all kids are so lucky. Maybe kids will have a better attitude toward veggies if they help grow them.

Thanks to articles on local restaurants such as Roast in Detroit and Inn Season in Royal Oak, I now know most of what they serve is grown locally, which makes me a lot more likely to give them my business. Not to mention helping me escape my "salad days" for one meal.


Published By: Edible Communities Inc.

Frequency: Quarterly 

Web site: http://www.ediblecommunities.com

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