Launched this spring, Modern Farmer is a new quarterly magazine that editor and founder, Ann Marie Gardner, calls "more farm than table."
The inaugural issue clocks in at a hefty 136 glossy, full-color pages and is packed with stories that cover a wide range of agricultural topics with an accessible, conversational tone. Stand-out articles include a story about the exploding worldwide wild pig population (which is environmentally destructive - even catastrophic); and how McDonald's recent embrace of fruit smoothies has affected the mango market in Malawi.
Like VH1's hit documentary series "Behind the Music," which offers glimpses into the lives and rise of rock stars, Modern Farmer provides the stories behind your food. Not just where it comes from, but what its impact is on cultural, sociological and environmental levels.
"Traditionally, agricultural coverage has been a hard sell to a mainstream audience (hence Michael Pollan's now-famous adage that editors have told him that everyone loves to read about food but no one likes to read about farming) but Modern Farmer aims to change that," Gardner, who is also a former New York Times journalist, wrote in an email. "What we've learned from this first issue is that the topic of agriculture is on everyone's mind and is a part of everyone's life. When it's presented in a really palatable way people realize that they're actually interested in these subjects."
There is also a companion website that compliments the quarterly with regularly updated stories about trending agricultural news, as well as a handy "How-To" section that explains topics including, "How to Chicken-Proof Your Garden," "How to Build a Worm Farm," and "How to Build a Bee Skep."
Currently, the most-read story on the site is titled, "Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt's Dark Side," by Justin Elliot.
"Twice a day, seven days a week, a tractor trailer carrying 8,000 gallons of watery, cloudy slop rolls past the bucolic countryside, finally arriving at Neil Rejman's dairy farm in upstate New York. The trucks are coming from the Chobani plant two hours east of Rejman's Sunnyside Farms, and they're hauling a distinctive byproduct of the Greek yogurt making process — acid whey," reads the story's introductory paragraph.
It's the perfect example of how Modern Farmer covers food: It takes a trend -- like Greek yogurt -- and looks at everything surrounding it, eventually revealing truths about the often detrimental effects of consumption. It balances this out with proactive stories about how to live and farm with sustainability in mind.
Local food producers are paid special attention, and are photographed and profiled much like celebrities in fashion magazines like Vogue. (Perhaps because the magazine's publisher is Ellen Carucci, who spent 30 years with Conde Nast.)
Who knew farmers were so hot?