Our annual Food Issue is always one of the Experience Life team’s favorites to create each year. As we gather around the conference room table to plan it, the enthusiasm and energy are palpable: We are passionate about food, and that’s evident as we discuss article ideas, potential cover concepts, and the many factors that influence our food systems and culture. Inevitably, there are more stories than we have room to print — we could publish multiple food issues each year and never get our fill.
For its part, this year’s installment features a compelling selection from that pile of possibilities. There are rundowns on the latest research on gut health and gluten, gotta-try recipes (see “3 Recipes to Create Fresh Spring Rolls at Home,” “Little Green Salad,” and “4 Summer Veggie Grain Bowls“), nutrition insights, and much more. It’s different from years past, however, in that it has a new dynamic look and feel.
Rather than featuring a well-known personality or rising star on the cover, as has been our tradition, we decided to shift to a broader lifestyle approach in 2023. When Lydia Anderson, our executive creative director, initially shared this change with the team, she was met with oohs and aahs — for this issue, in particular.
The cover mockups featuring colorful, vibrant dishes packed full of nutritious, beautiful produce captured our attention (and made our mouths water). We were all in.
Ultimately, we reverse engineered the cover concept and story. We created a vision board of delectable possibilities. We discussed colors, shapes, and textures. We debated flavors and food influences and origins.”
But bringing the concept to life was a little more complicated: Of all the dishes we could potentially spotlight, how could we choose just one? And what is the cover story if there’s no cover person — or in the case of the Food Issue, no chef or foodie to get to know?
Ultimately, we reverse engineered the cover concept and story. We created a vision board of delectable possibilities. We discussed colors, shapes, and textures. We debated flavors and food influences and origins.
Eventually, we identified fare that fits the season and that meets our nutrition philosophy and criteria. Then we got to work, pulling all the ingredients — err, visual and editorial elements! — together in our own unique way.
In deciding to mix things up for this edition, we messed with our usual recipe, one that’s been reliable and satisfying for quite some time. What you have here is the result of that experiment. (Shout-out to recipe developer Maddie Augustin, food stylist Betsy Nelson, and photographer Terry Brennan for supporting us in making it happen.)
My take? It’s a refreshing twist that was worth the effort. Although many of the ingredients are the same — the majority of the departments you look forward to are still here — you may notice a couple key substitutions. In addition to the new cover strategy, we also swapped our usual cover story for “Cook the Cover”. These spring-roll dishes bump up our recipe quotient and hopefully provide you with some new mealtime (snacktime, anytime!) inspiration. (See the recipes here.)
So take a read through and let me know what you think. I’m optimistic that you’ll enjoy the results as I much as I do — and maybe be willing to shake things up from time to time in your own kitchen and life, too.