Despite months of vehement denials, the Chron has officially done what the New York Times reported it was going to do last year: scrapped its standalone food section. Beginning this Sunday, the multiple-award-winning Food & Wine pages will be folded into a new section with the former Home coverage called Food+Home, which will feature coverage of decor and gardening alongside the regular complement of food and wine articles. Of course, the Chron is spinning this as a positive development, touting an "expanded" 16-page section with "more robust" coverage. "We aren't simply reporting on food – we're reporting on our culture today," new assistant managing editor for lifestyle Kitty Morgan said in a release. But the fact of the matter is that one of the few remaining standalone food sections, and arguably one of the nation's best, is on its way out, as presaged by the closure of the Tower of Bauer (the food section's separate building, complete with garden, wine cellar, and apiary) last year.
The Chron is also using Food+Home as an opportunity to delve more deeply into the intersections of food and sustainability and food and technology, and they claim that they'll introduce "a new generation" of staff writers and editors (recent hire Jonathan Kauffman and Chow's John Birdsall are among the names touted), covering of-the-moment topics like "juice fasts and food delivery services." Bauer's reviews will, of course, still be a focus, and there's also promises of lots of local chef coverage, "translating their smart, cutting-edge ideas for the home cook." To promote the new food section, the Chron is teaming up with flower-delivery startup BloomThat to deliver a special bouquet the week of July 6th, which will include a recipe utilizing ingredients from the flower arrangement.
UPDATE: 6/27, 5:44 p.m: Morgan made a statement on the change in food coverage, saying that, depending on the season, the new food sub-section will have "approximately the same number of pages" as the previous stand-alone section. Though the new section will have only one cover, it will be "60-70% food and 30-40% home and garden." Morgan could not confirm that the decision to merge the two lifestyle sections was motivated by advertising dollars or marketing, but said that from her end, it was meant to offer a "much more visually driven package."