Thursday, November 16, 2017

Food News: Farm Bill Reboot; Edible Portland Expires Under Cloud

Today Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer is hosting a broad range of experts and stakeholders for a forum titled “A Call for Reform: Fix the Farm Bill,” that focuses on the need to create a more visionary, equitable and cost-effective farm bill. The forum features Michael Pollan (top photo, center), author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, who is delivering the keynote, followed by a panel discussion with a group of policy experts to discuss their ideas for the reform that he's calling The Food and Farm Act.

In an interview about his re-envisioned farm bill on the website Civil Eats, the congressman said that "we continue to pay too much to the wrong people to grow the wrong food in the wrong places" and that he's working to reform subsidies to support innovation and small-to-midsize farmers rather than large corporate agribusinesses.

As he told Good Stuff NW in an interview earlier this year, he's building a coalition of consumers, farmers and non-profits to provide "support for protecting the environment, water quality, habitat [and] things that help the farmer and have broader social and economic benefit. The big issue is that all the attention and subsidy is skewed toward things that don’t need it, and shortchanges things that do, upon which we’re heavily reliant."

One unique element of his efforts is a comic book, "The Fight for Food: Why You Deserve a Better Farm Bill," that explains why the Farm Bill matters to people who care about their food and talks about how they can get involved.

Read my interview with Rep. Blumenauer, part of "The Future of Our Food" series. Photo courtesy Rep. Earl Blumenauer's office.

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Sad news came today that Alex Corcoran, owner and publisher of Edible Portland magazine, has announced that the magazine will cease publication after the current November/December issue.

Corcoran bought the magazine last year after Ecotrust, which had owned the publication since its inception in 2006, decided to cease publication after the Spring 2015 issue and put it up for sale. At the time that Corcoran bought it, Eric Thorkilsen, then-CEO of Edible Media, said, "Alex has a great track record of success managing Edible publications, starting with Edible Rhody [Edible Rhode Island] and continuing with Edible Seattle. His capacity to immerse himself in the local food community—forming solid relationships with small businesses and attracting a devoted readership—suggests a great future for Edible Portland."

The first edition under Corcoran's leadership was the September, 2016, issue. Corcoran initially posted an ad for the sale of the magazine, but because of contractual disagreements with Ecotrust, he has pulled the ad.

In an e-mail to Good Stuff NW, Carolyn Holland, VP of Engagement at Ecotrust, said that Corcoran "does not have the rights to sell the magazine. He has been in breach of his contract with Ecotrust since 2015 when he signed on to assume the license. While we were working with him to give him time to get it on track, now that he has decided to fold, the rights to magazine will revert to [Ecotrust]."

Mr. Corcoran declined a request to comment for this post.

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UPDATE: I received the following update today (11/28) from Carolyn Holland at Ecotrust:

"Free Range Media, publisher of Edible Portland, is ceasing publication of the award-winning magazine at the end of 2017. According to a previous agreement, Edible Portland will return to its original owner and publisher, Ecotrust, which originally launched the magazine in 2006 as one of the first Edibles in the nation. Ecotrust will work with the national media organization Edible Communities, licensor of more than 90 Edible magazines across the United States and Canada, to find a new home for the magazine. Edible Portland boasts a devoted readership of more than 75,000 and has a solid base of both advertisers and contributors. Ecotrust is committed to supporting a smooth transition in ownership. If you are interested in becoming the publisher of Edible Portland, please contact Carolyn Holland, Ecotrust’s VP of Engagement, at 503.467.0754."

Read my recent article for Edible Portland, "Big Milk: Big Issues for Local Communities."

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly stated that Edible Seattle was for sale. It is not. Corcoran is inviting a new publisher to start an Edible magazine in the South Sound area.

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