50 Women Game Changers in Food: # 32, Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian

OK, I'll fess up and admit my ignorance: I'd never heard of either of these women. This is a first for me with our 50 Game Changers and it's why I decided to join Mary's group. Culinary Education 101. If they're new to you too, I hope you'll enjoy reading and learning.

Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian had a graphic design firm doing things like visitor's guides for Ojai, California and tourism websites. But outside work, the two were interested  in organic, seasonal gardening and cooking. Ryder has degrees in graphic design, journalism and psychology, and graduated from a professional chef school in Los Angeles. Topalian is an acclaimed photographer. 
After her father's death about 10 years ago, Ryder reevaluated her life and she and Topalian decided to launch a locavore print publication...much against the advice of others. (Locavore defined means anyone who is interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market.)

Ryder grew up in a farming family and had just read “Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods” and “This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader,” so starting a local magazine called Edible Ojai focusing on local food felt like a good fit.

(Ryder is on the left in the photo, Topalian on the right.)

Their initial 16-page, one-color quarterly magazine was a hit. In a town of 8,000 people, they were printing 10,000 copies and running out within a few weeks. Ryder feels that although the food magazine niche was already crowded, most focused on cooking in or dining out, not on local food production, distribution and politics, in addition to what tastes good.

And then in 2004, Saveur magazine included Edible Ojai on its Saveur 100, a list of food trends and trend setters to watch  — the exposure prompted more than 400 people to call saying they wanted something similar in their communities. 

And the two decided to change their concept to a licensing model, slightly different from a franchise, because they believed local ownership would lead to more authentic quality. They worked up a concept like a niche Associated Press, where individual publications are independently owned but share resources via the cooperative.

Four months later, Ryder and Topalian made the cross-country drive to Cape Cod to help launch the first licensed addition to the Edible group, published by Doug and Dianne Langeland.

While they are passionate about promoting local food, Ryder and Topalian are equally committed to profitability. 
By the end of 2006, Edible Communities was turning a profit. In 2007, it hit $1 million in revenue. Edible is adding about 10 new magazines a year, with about 70 operating in North America and a total readership of about 15 million, most picking up the magazine for free but some getting it delivered by mail with paid subscriptions. They were profiled by Inc. magazine in 2010.

Headquarters sells a small number of national ads, but most magazines sell about 90 percent of their ads locally. The publications are required to maintain a balance of at least 51 percent editorial content, and they manage their own content, ads, printing and distribution.

While they continue to add magazines, Ryder and Topalian have other ideas for expanding the Edible empire. Today the pair spend their time on corporate projects. While Topalian is still very much involved with guiding Edible into its next phase as well as doing all of the food and location photography for the cookbooks the company is producing, she is  semi-retired from day-to-day operations. Ryder misses writing: 
“I do miss writing very much. These days, all I write are emails ...and I used to be a good writer. My writing skill feels like a muscle I’ve let atrophy. Hopefully, in the near future, there will be opportunities for me to write again!”


I've always loved corn fritters and jumped all over these when I saw the recipe. The egg white addition resulted in light and airy fritters, filled with lovely sweet fresh corn. But, as good as these were, I still prefer
Faith's take on fresh veggie fritters.

 Fresh Corn Fritters

Originally published in Edible: A Celebration of Local FoodsEdible: A Celebration of Local Foods by Heart of Green Award-winners Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian. 

2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears of corn) 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup finely chopped spring onions or scallions
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoons paprika
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a large bowl, stir together the corn, flour, egg yolks, onions, salt, paprika, pepper and cayenne. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the corn mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining egg whites into the corn mixture in three additions.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the butter has melted. Carefully drop some of the corn mixture by tablespoons in to the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook each fritter until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn each fritter over and brown the other side, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the fritters to a platter lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired. Repeat until all of the corn mixture has been used. Serve hot with some broiled tomatoes, a salsa made with chopped avocado, mango, lime and cilantro, and sour cream, if desired.
To serve: layer three with sour cream and add garnish of tomatoes and cilantro.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda


  1. Yes, well the names were completely unfamiliar to me as was the story... but I know the Edible series! Weird, I assumed it was a couple of kids that started it... never knew it was a boomer enterprise or that it started out west ( I thought it was an east coast thing... evil me) There's one for Manhattan and Brooklyn so go figure. They give them out at the green market a lot so I've never bought one but like what I see. I love that they turn little farmers into stars... that is as it should be since the work involved in farming is Herculean... doing it right... well I can't imagine. Kudos to them!
    Fritters look good too!!

  2. I had never heard of them either, but I love the Edible idea. Your layered fritters looks so nice and crispy with all that sour cream oozing out between them!

  3. Same here, did not know these ladies. But who doesn't love corn fritters? Great photo Barbara. Love the tomatoes on top of the sour cream.

  4. Same, knew the series but nothing of the women who started it. Great post! The fritters look awesome! I can just imagine how good.

  5. I find that we are always in sync when we post Barbara, You seem to read my mind about delicious foods I would really enjoy. I love all of your recipes and have tried many. This was a very interesting read about this weeks ladies.

  6. Those corn fritters look particularly good! Perfect with sour cream.



  7. I've been a fan of Edible publications and have the book, but I didn't know the founders names. Great to learn about them! These fritters look fantastic stacked with the sour cream.

  8. What wonderful background information. It is amazing that in a time where magazines regularly fail they are able to prosper. It says a great deal about the importance of "green" eating. I love the way those corn fritters sound. I'll have to give them a try. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  9. Mmmm...beautiful layers of corn fritters and cream! This sounds delectable- I know I'd love it.

  10. Their names are new to me too. How beautifully your presented the corn fritters, Barbara. They look wonderful but I'll have to check out Faith's veggie fritters also.

  11. The fritters look wonderful...

    I am really getting to become more and more committed to the local food movement. We have a similar magazine here that highlights local farms and producers and I can't wait for each new issue.

    I loved reading about these two pioneering women. I believe that it is only a matter of time before we have real issues with the way our food is produced and the people who are campaigning for change can be likened to the early people who warned that we were going to run out of fossil fuels some day.

  12. Barbara,
    They look very appetizing, but I did like Faith's idea of mixed veggies.
    Not more then 10 minutes ago Jacques Pepin was on TV making corn fritter and he made a thin batter and used one egg mixed with soda water for the liquid.

  13. Just discovering your beautiful blog; great recipe. These women are so smart. What a great way to promote;Buy and Cook Local. Never heard of this magazine, but will be looking at it on line.Thank you.

  14. it's been fun learning about these two! i LOVE corn fritters, these are just beautiful.

  15. Hello Barbara
    the fritters look good as the two young girls on the photo (oups !!rude ...but I am french...!)

  16. Who knew!? But I do love fritters... I might have to try these!

  17. Never heard of them either, but hey, who can resist a corn fritter?

  18. Barbara, the light bulb just went on. I wouldn't have recognized their names, but I know their story, and I've been lucky to be able to contribute to some of the Edible magazines. I'm really happy to be a small part of what they created.

  19. I didn't think I'd heard of these ladies, but after reading all these posts, I started seeing Edible magazines EVERYWHERE! These corn fritters sound delicious. I can't wait until summer when fresh corn is in season again so I can make them!

  20. It's nice to learn about the women behind the Edible series---I had never heard of them either, although Edible Manhattan--yes! Thanks for shining the light on these two.

  21. I must say, the people in your series are darn impressive and inspirational. And who doesn't love a good corn fritter? I can't wait to try this!

  22. you're doing better than i am, barbara--i haven't heard of many of these ladies!
    fritters rock.

  23. You're not alone, I'd never heard of them either but I'm beginning to love their recipes! I like the way you assembled your corn fritters, great for visual appeal and also taste!

    This is my first visit to your blog and I think you have a very beautiful one. So glad to meet such great food bloggers through Mary's group :)

  24. You make me long for summer so I can spy some fresh ears to make these fabulous fritters. Crisp and sweet, these look positively addicting.

  25. These two sound brilliant! I haven't heard of them but am glad to have now. I wonder if we've a local magazine in town here?

    I adore corn fritters too though of course anything fried always is okay. Yours look stunning and make my mouth water.



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