How to Be an Ethical Writer About Food


Food is one of the most basic necessities for human life. It provides energy for the growth and maintenance of body tissues and the regulation of vital processes. The food we eat is made from plants or animals, or by other living things that are converted to food. It also contains nutrients, substances that are used by the body for growth and function.

People consume a wide variety of foods from all over the world. Many of these foods are prepared in different ways, and many have cultural significance for people in their regions. In addition to providing the fuel that helps us live, these foods may be consumed for flavor, enjoyment, health benefits or other reasons.

In developed countries, most people have access to a variety of nutritious foods and are not malnourished. However, in some parts of the world, many people have poor diets that are high in fat and salt, and low in fruits and vegetables. The foods that are available are often expensive, and the cost of healthy foods is prohibitive for many families.

Writing about food requires a unique skillset, including an understanding of how the different components of food work together and the ability to describe these in ways that are engaging to readers. Food writers also need to know how to use metaphors and analogies to create vivid images in the minds of their readers. The best examples of this type of writing are in literary works, such as the novelist Haruki Murakami’s descriptions of a Japanese restaurant’s menu and cooking process or the descriptive language used by writer Marcel Proust in his book “Swann’s Way.”

When writing about food, it is important to be accurate and knowledgeable. This is especially true when describing a cuisine that is not your own, as unethical writing can perpetuate racism and misrepresentation. For example, relegating Mexican, Indian, or Chinese cuisines to “cheap eats” takes money out of the pockets of cooks, restaurateurs, and other workers in those cultures. It also perpetuates the myth that these cuisines are inferior to American cuisine, which is in fact a highly evolved form of gastronomy that has its roots in the same regional and ethnic traditions as those other cuisines.

To be an ethical writer about food, you must also avoid cultural appropriation. Relegating foods from other cultures to “cheap eats” is not only offensive, but it can also be seen as a microaggression, says Chandra Ram. “If you don’t use your white privilege to elevate these foods, then they will continue to be reduced to a cheap and tasteless exotic novelty,” she writes.

Finally, it is essential to be aware of the impact that food has on a range of other social and environmental issues. In addition to affecting the health and wellbeing of humans, animals, and the planet, food is involved in complex systems of production, distribution, and consumption that require knowledge of economics, biology, ecology, history, cultural studies, nutrition, and anthropology to understand.