It’s nearly been a week since Lucky Peach announced it’d be going under, and I’m still not over it. The news fills me with honest-to-God unease. It leaves me wondering: How much of a place there will be, moving forward, for exciting, critical, not-boring writing in food media?
There is hope! Earlier this month, MOLD Magazine launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production costs of a few print issues. MOLD has been around since 2013, and describes itself as an editorial platform invested in the future of food. It’s produced 400 stories online, hosted a pop-up, and even rolled out its own nifty kitchen pitcher, amassing a 40,000-person following on social media in the process.
"This isn’t about recipes. It’s not about restaurant reviews. It’s not about food fads or the latest trends," the promotional video opens. This is music to my tired, sad ears. Instead, MOLD founder and editor LinYee Yuan explains, MOLD will be about lab-grown burgers, eating crickets, and, more generally, the future of food as its access becomes a more precarious issue for many people across the globe. The video alone is enough to inspire faith that what'll result from this is a fresh magazine, and Yuan (who, sidenote, is writing a piece for us later today) is no slouch when it comes to media pedigree; she comes from The FADER and T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
It’s a balls-to-the-wall campaign that will only succeed if MOLD meets its stated $34,000 goal by April 6th. MOLD is looking to print a 100-page glossy on the future of food, with topics as wide-ranging from pizza robots to Japanese toilets. It’s important to continue supporting independent projects like MOLD, which help expand the topics covered by traditional food media (including Food52) as well and push conversations in vital directions. Some of the most vibrant food writing has lived in indie food publications; I’m thinking of Jarry, Cherry Bombe, Mouthfeel. Without publications like these (and, crucially, the voices they give real estate to), food media as we know it risks hitting a plateau of recipes and restaurant buzz.
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Without our support, the most incisive, exciting food writing will likely move to general interest publications. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Keep food media weird.
On Black & Highly Flavored, co-hosts Derek Kirk and Tamara Celeste shine a light on the need-to-know movers and shakers of our food & beverage industry.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.