A New Generation of Food Magazines Thinks Small, and in Ink


LinYee Yuan’s new twice-yearly print publication, Mold, came about as an expansion of her website, and a way to explore its story ideas more deeply, around themes such as the microbiome or food waste.

“By 2050, we won’t be able to feed nine billion people on the planet, if we continue to eat and drink the way we do now,” Ms. Yuan said. “It’s kind of a downer. I understand that it’s not something everybody wants to be confronted with in their daily lives, but I think it’s so urgent.”

Mold is driven by this sense of urgency — telling stories at the intersection of food and design that look to the future. Though Ms. Yuan, 37, was quick to note that she was the magazine’s only employee, she didn’t see this as an obstacle.

Ms. Yuan raised more than $35,000 on Kickstarter last year and pulled together the first two issues of Mold in her apartment in New York City; she now prints about 5,000 copies of each issue and sells them locally, as well as in Britain, France, Germany, Singapore and Taiwan.

“A magazine that has a full-time staff of one can still find a global audience,” Ms. Yuan said, “It can make some sort of impact in the world.”

Photo

Copies of Compound Butter for sale at the Food Book Fair. Jaya and Jessie Nicely started the magazine as a class project in 2014, and quickly turned it into an experimental quarterly of essays, poetry and art.

Credit
Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Stephen Satterfield, a former sommelier who used to run the food site Nopalize, was frustrated with the food coverage in traditional food magazines, which he said often suffers from a lack of diverse viewpoints, and a lack of context.

“I knew we were going to ask where things came from, and that was going to be the point of view we brought into conversations about food,” he said of his new quarterly magazine, Whetstone. Mr. Satterfield, 33, lives in San Francisco, but produces the magazine on the road, where he spends most of his time.

Since his first issue last year, collaborating with freelancers all over the world, Mr. Satterfield has covered the origins of corn, coffee and winemaking in depth, with reporting from the Republic of Georgia, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia.

“The new democracy in media is that if you have a flagship product and grow a following around that, you’re able to leverage it into more ambitious, larger projects,” said Mr. Satterfield, who aims to expand Whetstone into video production.

His own readership is steadily growing, and he will print about 2,000 copies of his summer issue. Mr. Satterfield said it wasn’t unusual for him to text back and forth, candidly, with new subscribers.

“People are showing up for the real version of you,” he said. “That’s the beautiful thing about this fractured marketplace.”

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