A Celebration of Local Foods by Edible Communities (Interview Included)

“Throughout the country, Americans are discovering the joys of eating locally—whether shopping at their local farmer’s market, joining a community supported agriculture group (CSA), or supporting local artisans.” In the gorgeous new book EDIBLE: A Celebration of Local Foods, Edible co-founders Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian present some of North America’s local food heroes and traditions.

[social_buttons] Edible Communities, Inc. is an earth-friendly network guide of regional food magazines in the United States and Canada that celebrating place-based foods with compelling stories about and recipes from farmers, fisherman, chefs, and food artisans with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture, small family farmers, and amazing artisanal items.

The company’s cofounders, Tracey Ryder (author), and Carole Topalian (photographer), started their first Edible publication in 2002 with, Edible Ojai; and now the two proudly publish in 65 distinct regions in North America, from Vermont to Hawaii, with plans to reach 70 in 2010.

Keep reading for the awesome interview we just did with Tracey Ryder. 

In the book Edible you highlight stories from around the nation including the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, California and the West, the Pacific Northwest, and the Midwest. Out of each region which stories really stand out for you? Any fun stories to share from your visits and interviews?

Northeast: We love the story about Coonamessett Farm on Cape Cod – it’s written by one of our all-time favorite writers, Tom Dott, who is a regular contributor to Edible Cape Cod. While we love all of Tom’s writing, his humor pieces are really very funny and are a bright spot in our day each time we get to read one of them!

Southeast: “Growing Grains of Gold: Carolina Plantation Rice,” by Ford Walpole:

Southwest: “The Gentle Giant: Chef Greg LaPrad of Quiessence”

California and the West: “A Portrait of the Farmer as a Young Man,” by Andy Griffin

Pacific Northwest: “A Force for all Seasons: Tilth’s Maria Hines Does the Right Thing” – Maria Hines went on to win a James Beard Award last year and is a legend in the Seattle area – we love her!
Midwest: We love the story about Seed Savers Exchange – it’s an amazing place and the work they do is equally as amazing.

We have so many fun stories doing these trips, it’s hard to pick just one but we were at Quiessence for my 38th birthday dinner and Chef Greg La Prad was kind enough to put up with us being very loud (our Board of Directors meeting was held in Phoenix that week, so they all joined us for my b’day dinner) – the food & wine selections were amazing, as is the setting, since the restaurant is at The Farm at South Mountain. The meal Greg cooked for us that night qualifies as one of the TOP FIVE of my lifetime and I’ve had the pleasure of eating some really wonderful food.

I love how the book shares recipes for Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring! Will you highlight some of your favorite seasonal recipes?

The stuffed Poblanos w/shrimp and goat cheese, the sweet corn fritters, and Doug Langeland’s lobster rolls (you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted those)!

With local food awareness on the rise, which organizations (online) and places (in your opinion) are doing the best at helping us find ways to give back to our local communities?

There are so many, this is impossible to answer but in terms of helping folks grow better food (the most local of all food, since it comes from their own backyard), there are two standouts: Native Seed/SEARCH in Tucson and Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa – both do an amazing job at preserving native foods and heirlooms and have amazing product and seed lines available to the public.

The Edible blog rocks as does the audio blog! Please point us to some of your favorite posts and site features? The Edible Radio interview with Joan Gussow:

(episode #17) is a highlight of all posts to date and Tom Philpott’s new show on Edible Radio (premiering now at episode #18) is a terrific edition to our lineup.

Edible is currently the leader in local food awareness, how do you see Edible Communities growing and blossoming in the future, say by 2020? We try to think in 3 to 5 year segments instead of 10 but we plan to continue growing as we are now (at a rate of 12 magazine per year), and also plan to expand our web and radio presence a lot. We also intend to do our own book program and add TV in the near future.

Thanks Tracey!

More on this book:

“EDIBLE is divided into two distinct sections. The first, “Edible Stories,” profiles local heroes who are making a difference in their communities. With inspiring portraits of North America’s distinct culinary regions are included: Northeast (including Toronto), Southeast, Southwest, California and The West, Pacific Northwest (including Vancouver), and Midwest.

The second section, “Edible Recipes” showcases the distinct culinary character of each of the six regions through 80 recipes featuring the best of what each season and region has to offer. The recipes are organized seasonally…”

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