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The Dubious Qualifications of a Kids' Food Magazine Publisher


Jill Colella Magazine Editor, Ingredient & Butternut

I often get asked why I do what I do, and how I’m qualified to do it. I'm the publisher and editor of Ingredient magazine and Butternut magazine. 

It’s a funny thing, though, since what I think I do and what it looks like I do to others is a bit different--well, actually pretty wildly different. Most people assume that I love food and am most interested in food, so that’s why I made a magazine about it. I do love and respect food, but most of my life, I’ve hated most foods (as a selective eater) and coped with a disordered relationship with food (a proclivity for bingeing for which I sought professional intervention.

I’m less interested in food than I am in feelings, specifically the feelings kids have about food (especially my own inner child).

As ridiculous as it may sound to some people, this statement will feel familiar to others: as a kid (and even sometimes now) I feel fear about food. Sometimes panic, and sometimes caution or suspicion, but almost always fear about anything different or new to me. My reasons “why” run the gamut, and the only way I’ve challenged the fear is through developing curiosity about food. I wanted to know more, and then I wanted to share that knowledge, and writing books and magazines for kids about food became the outlet.

I’d like to think that my awareness of the feeling of caution, pause, skepticism, fear—whatever we might call it—around food for myself is my qualification, my super-power. In a very immediate way, I know what it feels like to dread something new and to discover that it is wonderful. I won’t ever tell kids--or anyone, actually—to eat this or that, but I’ll always invite them to be curious. And for me, that has made all the difference, being in the feelings business rather than the food business. 

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