Like an Edible Communities magazine or Lucky Peach, Comestible, a new quarterly food journal, is not a flip-through-it-in-20-minutes magazine. It's a grab-a-big-cup-of-coffee, sit-down-and-get-comfy, read-from-cover-to-cover kind of publication.
The journal is a labor of love for self-publisher Anna Brones, who began the publication after getting fed up with much of the current food media landscape.
"Food can be such an amazing lens to look at a variety of issues — gender, sustainability, economics, etc. — but so much of today's food media is only focused on the end product, what's on our plates," Brones says. "I wanted to create something different, something that focused on food, have input from farmers, but also tackle some of the questions surrounding food that I think we are usually quick to look over because we are too focused on tips about baking a great cake and what vegetable is currently trendy."
The four issues each year are published by season, and when the upcoming winter issue is released early next year, Comestible will have completed its first full year.
The journal got its start on Kickstarter, where Brones raised the printing funds for the first two issues. She was able to raise enough money to achieve something that was important to her: printing the journal sustainably. The paper inside the book is 100-percent post-consumer content, and the cover is 30 percent post-consumer content. The entire journal is Forest Stewardship Council certified.
Looking at food through a new lens
Brones wants to publish articles that others aren't publishing.
"I want to consider the stuff that other publications might look over. There are some recipes in each issue, and those are all linked to the season in which the issue comes out. I also look for stories that are evergreen, and those usually come together to create an overall theme for the issue," she says. "A great example is in the second issue, which came out in the summer. There was a piece on wine, a piece on chocolate, and a piece on coffee, resulting in an issue that was devoted to origin."
The stories go beyond eating food to covering food from various angles. In the summer issue, there's a piece on using plants to dye clothing. Author Sasha Duerr uses "an abundance of foraged and harvestable plants" to create dyes and contends that "what we eat can also be what we wear." Along with a thoughtful article about creating dyes from food, Duerr includes instructions for using wild fennel to create dyes in shades of bright yellows and greens.
In future issues, Brones wants to tackle larger issues like race, refugees and climate change.
She also wants to add more artwork. She doesn't use photos in the journal, relying instead on illustrations. She also uses paper cuts, which she creates herself for the front cover. The center illustration in each issue is colorable.
Each issue of Comestible is $12 and can be purchased through the Comestible website. Because Brones believes in freedom of the press and equal rights, 10 percent of the profits are donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.