There isn't a lot that can wrench an avid Pacific Northwest gardener away from dirt-digging in her own garden patch during a gloriously warm, lush spring day. But Modern Farmer Magazine did it. Sadly, my own garden is weedier and more unkempt by the hour and my purple-sprouting broccoli is blossoming into a spray of yellow flowers in the warm spring weather. But here's what I'm learning, thanks to the magazine's pithy yet in-depth articles:

-How climate change is affecting the rice crop in Northern India

-Why two English farm sisters created an on-line dating site for farmers

-Why a fear of commitment could lead you to rent a chicken

-How a Boston-area farmer is growing everything from mushrooms to greens in shipping containers

-The surprising and wondrous science of soil

-What kind of animal slaughter is "humane enough"?

Not enough to tantalize you? Poke around the site and you'll find even more juicy food and farm news, from sane discussions of GMO labeling to a series of profiles on local foods throughout the world.

The first issue of Modern Farmer went on sale April 16, 2013 and the website launched two days prior. According to Jessie Cohen, the magazine's media relations manager, Editor-in-Chief Ann Marie Gardner conceived of the magazine as a way to instigate conversations about food and farming and even to unite the global farming community.

Working for many years as American bureau chief of Monacle Magazine and as a contributing editor for the New York Times, Gardner moved to upstate New York about ten years ago. Living in the farming community of Germantown, NY while reporting nationally and internationally, she observed that farmers all over the world were concerned with the same issues and problems. She envisioned a more unified platform for discussing what was happening all over the world with food and food culture - a way to provide the backstory to where food comes from, world-wide.  Modern Farmer is based in the farming community where she lives but is devoutly global in perspective, providing a complex, nuanced picture of the people, places and stories behind our food. And this is just the first issue.

A paid subscription of $29.97 gets you either print or digital (pdf) version, sent directly to your email or mailing address. $39.97 gets you both print and digital versions. But start by checking Modern Farmer out on-line. New articles appear throughout the day, every day. The articles are succinct enough to just check out while you're taking a break from planting... but don't say I didn't warn you - there's a good chance you'll find yourself enraptured.

Thanks a lot, Modern Farmer Magazine. You've successfully distracted me from completing pressing work, cooking meals, and planting my own burgeoning springtime garden - all by being just too darn interesting!

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