Foodies who travel will have noticed a free magazine in many American cities that starts with the name Edible. Edible Orlando. Edible Atlanta. Edible Austin. Edible Monterey Bay. Edible Indy. Even Edible Allegheny. There are 81 of them around the country, from urban markets to regional locations.
This month, under the guidance of new St. Petersburg publishers Kay and Brian Clark, Edible Tampa Bay joins the growing list, which also includes editions in South Florida, Palm Beach and Sarasota. The quarterly magazine that highlights local foodways began popping up this week in St. Petersburg in places like Mazzaro's Italian Market, Kahwa espresso bars, Fork & Cork Cafe at the Morean Arts Center and YogaBlu Studio. In Tampa, they can be found at Duckweed Urban Market, The Roosevelt 2.0, Village Health Market and Tahitian Inn Hotel Cafe & Spa.
And that's just a start as Kay Clark begins to find other distribution points. By the time the second quarterly magazine is published in October, she expects it to be thicker (this one is 32 pages) and at more locations. The first issue, with a brilliant orange and yellow mango on the front, includes articles about Cigar City Brewing's new brewpub in Carrollwood and a piece on John Balogh, a guidance counselor at R.B. Cox Elementary in Dade City, who helps stocks a soup kitchen with produce from the school garden while teaching children where their food comes from.
Those stories are typical of what you'll find in Edible magazines, whose mission is to highlight local food producers, unique retail outlets and people whose love affair with food impacts their communities.
For Clark, Edible Tampa Bay is a way to meld her interest in food and magazines. She graduated from University of Georgia in 1998 with a journalism degree and a concentration in magazine publishing.
"I am a magazine junkie," says Clark, who by day is in corporate communications at Raymond James Financial. "For five years, I've been picking up Edible magazines around the country and thinking about one here."
About a year ago, she says, the thinking turned serious with a push from husband Brian, who is in wines sales. Today, they've got boxes of magazines in the garage of their St. Petersburg home and in her car as she introduces them to local businesses.
The initial printing was 10,000 copies and she expects that 80,000 will roll off the press the first year, with more in the winter and spring when the area's population grows with winter visitors. Edible Tampa Bay will publish June, October, January and April.
Though the local and fresh food movement has been late coming to the Tampa Bay area, Clark says the exploding craft beer scene here plus the numbers of people attending outdoor markets prove interest is catching up to what's going on around the country.
"There are 10,000 people who show up for the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg every week," she says. "I have so much editorial content to consider because there's so much going on."
Advertising will dictate how much of that content will get to readers because that's what will drive the page count and the bottom line. The first issue includes some shared ads and content with other editions, but Clark says that should decrease as the magazine gets more local support.
Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian helm the Edible Communities empire that began modestly in 2002 with Edible Ojai, an almost newsletter-like publication about the local food movement in California's Ventura County. In just over a decade the magazine's concept has garnered awards and attention plus spawned the growing network of magazines around the country.
Ryder said the company is launching about 10 magazines each year, with editions from New Orleans; Nashville, Tenn.; Southern Virginia and Charleston, S.C., still to come this year. The licensing fee is $95,000, with publishers putting $35,000 down and Edible Communities financing the remainder over six years.
Ryder was in New Haven, Conn., last week speaking at a Yale University seminar for magazine publishers but took a break to answer questions via email. She says that the success of the Edible magazines, some of which come close to 100 pages, has "a lot to do with the fact that consumers are so smart — they care about where their food comes from and they want to know who is producing that food within their communities."
She expects Edible Tampa Bay to do well and much of that will have to do with the Edible Communities support system. It's not the first local-food centric magazine published here but there's some serious business support behind which could make success more likely.
The Local Dirt was a promising grass roots publication with a similar mission started in January 2012 by Ferrell Alvarez and Ty Rodriguez of Cafe Dufrain in Tampa, but it folded after one issue.
Ryder doesn't expect the same fate for Edible Tampa Bay, which despite the fact it's part of a large network with some centralized requirements about its logo and look has the leeway to reflect the local community editorially.
"Kay and Brian are the perfect couple to do it," she says. "They love food, community, cooking and are incredibly talented."
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8586.