It was when I was working as a freelance journalist, prior to joining Wicked Leeks and Riverford, that I first realised there was a gap. Why couldn’t I find a magazine, or outlet, that had stories of the joy of food, or ethical living inspiration, alongside the stories from the fields, board rooms, labs or conferences, where the future of food is really playing out?
With my background in business journalism (I started on the trade magazine Fresh Produce Journal), I have always loved supply chain stories, and see no reason why ordinary, so-called ‘consumer’ readers wouldn’t also want to know the realities of food business, rather than only the fluffy, front-of-house stuff. So much of what happens to our food, and anything else we buy or consume for that matter, happens before it reaches us in a neat, clean package. Complex, perhaps, but fascinating? Always.
And so, an idea was born. With the backing of Riverford, which has always had a proud and long tradition of sharing information, expertise, opinions and inspiration thanks to founder Guy’s 30-year veg box newsletter, Wicked Leeks magazine was born. Under the simple premise of joining the joy of food with the realities of its impact, I set about commissioning top freelancers, writing news, setting up interviews and later, launching its first print edition.
I have since found as much inspiration in the longer investigations, such as the possibility of agroecological farming feeding the UK, as I have in the empowering writing that shows how cooking good food from scratch, sharing it with others, or just actively considering how you connect with nature or shop, can be a powerful, if not radical, act.
What has been most surprising is finding power in these smaller things. While climate and nature crises deserve our urgent attention, they can also be overwhelming and the impact on mental health can be paralysing.
Balancing this against the small things you can always do, scaling that impact up by telling a friend, and feeding yourself and your mind with healthy food and choices along the way, has proven to be a sustainable recipe both for a magazine, and for an ethical, happy lifestyle.
And for a curious mind, food has an unlimited supply of stories. How much meat should we eat? What is the best alternative to plastic? What is regenerative farming and how should it be marketed? Why are there so many food shortages? Some of these we have tried to answer, or at least raised the questions. Then there have been the profiles and big interviews with the pioneers and leaders from across food, farming and the environment. People like Asma Khan, Jyoti Fernandes, Satish Kumar and Rowan Williams have shared their words of wisdom and leadership with the magazine over the past few years, and the whole big interview series (you can read the collection here) has been one of my personal highlights.
I am about to continue my own journey, moving on shortly to join the amazing team at the BBC’s Food Programme, on Radio 4, where they have very similar ethos in using food as a way into exploring any other issue. So this a goodbye from me in my last week as editor.
In the meantime, Wicked Leeks will continue to serve its readers with original, inspiring and thought-provoking articles and questions, with a new editor at its helm in due course and driven by the huge appetite for a better world that exists both among its readers and among the farmers, food producers and ethical businesses that it voices.