We changed our name. Here’s why.

The New Food Economy isn’t dead, but it’s not new anymore. Long live The Counter

Dear Reader, 

Today, we unveiled a new name, visual brand, and website for our newsroom, which you’ve known since 2015 as The New Food Economy. From this moment on, we’re The Counter. 

We’ll say more about the name change in a minute. But, first, since much of today’s change is purely aesthetic: We’re debuting a clean, responsive site design that we think makes our coverage more inviting, accessible, and enjoyable. Rather than point out all the new flourishes, we hope you’ll simply be led by the design into a compelling reading experience.

The new food economy isn’t really new anymore.

When we launched in 2015, “the new food economy” was a term used by scholars to describe one of the largest cultural sea changes of the past 50 years—a profound shift in the way Americans think about eating, and a sweeping re-evaluation of the values that drive food production. 

But in 2020 the new food economy isn’t really new anymore. Organic is a $50-billion-dollar business. Large meatpackers are buying shares of plant-based burger companies. Terms like “regenerative agriculture” appear on the side of your cereal box. In other words, it’s no longer a revelation that eating is a matter of civic participation. Americans crave connection to their food. And the broad, transformational values that once felt niche to some—the desire for a more just, transparent, and sustainable food system—are no longer fringe concerns. They’ve gone fully mainstream, and the stories we cover make front-page news. 

From that standpoint, outgrowing our name was inevitable. Our 15-month search for a new one led us, ultimately, to The Counter. (As these things often do, it came courtesy of a friend outside our newsroom—a reminder that you don’t need to cover food for a living to add to the conversation.)

We won’t go into everything we like about the name, or all its many valences. Except to say this: Obviously, a counter conjures images of physical spaces we encounter every day—in our homes, and at restaurants and takeout spots and coffeehouses and bars. These are the kinds of places that feature into our reporting, where people gather to discuss ideas and negotiate values over food and drink. We hope to be that kind of space for you. 

The Counter also brings to mind a cash register or checkout counter, transactional spaces where goods and currency change hands, invoking the economic and logistical aspects of our coverage. We’re committed to going beyond the plate and the shelf in our reportage, with stories that follow food back through a vast supply chain, and uncover the implications of that journey. 

From now on, we’re The Counter.

More broadly, The Counter has a counter-cultural resonance. That’s not just because we’re an independent, nonprofit, reader-supported newsroom that doesn’t run ads and offers its product for free. Or because we greatly value our objectivity and independence. It’s because our work runs counter to the long-established narrative about food media: that it’s superficial, and self-indulgent, a thing for the privileged to fancy and dilettantes to write about. That is emphatically not our view. We write about the universal experience of eating, and the way it is shaped by power, institutions, and the earth itself. Everyone is impacted by the stories we cover, and everyone is welcome. 

There has never been a more exciting time to report on and write about food. Our beat—with all the counterpoints and counter takes that people have come to expect—is bigger and more multifaceted than ever. Our name reflects that growth. 

These changes are our invitation to new and existing readers: Come in, find something to love, and stay a while. 

Welcome to The Counter. Hope you’ll pull up a seat. 

—The Editors 

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