Writing About Food


Food plays an important role in human life, providing both nutrition and pleasure. It also plays a significant cultural role. People use food to express their identity, beliefs and values. Prehistoric humans hunted and gathered plants and animals for sustenance, but over time they learned to grow crops and raise livestock. These developments, along with advances in transportation and storage technology, gave rise to modern food production. The modern food industry is an enormous economic sector. People’s diets differ widely between countries and within nations. In developed countries, malnutrition is not as common as it was in earlier times, because people have access to a wide variety of nutritious foods and can afford them. However, many people eat too much fat, salt and sugar and too few fruits and vegetables.

The food people eat provides them with energy and essential nutrients, such as proteins (e.g., beef and pork), carbohydrates (e.g., bread, rice and potatoes), vitamins, minerals and fiber. A person’s body uses these nutrients to function, and a healthy diet can help prevent disease and illness.

A person’s diet may also contain other substances such as fats, oils and sweeteners, which contribute to flavor, and salt and other seasonings, which add flavor, texture and color. In addition, some foods are preserved by canning, freezing, drying, smoking or pickling.

Writing about food covers a wide range of topics and genres, from recipe books to short and long journalism pieces on culinary culture or history. There are also food-focused novels, memoirs and travelogues. There are even academic research papers on food.

Great food writing crystallizes the experience of a dish for the reader by conveying its flavors, aromas and textures. It also tells the story of the people who cook it and the social, political or historical circumstances that give it its character. The food writer must be sensitive to the fact that misrepresenting a cuisine can have negative consequences on the community that generously shares it with others.

Avoid words that make a dish seem odd, strange or exotic. These terms have negative connotations, and they can indicate that the writer has a limited worldview.

Identify the food magazine or website to which you wish to submit your article and understand its editorial focus. A good understanding of the magazine or site will help you develop your food writing skills and tailor your work to its audience. Many food-focused publications are geared toward a narrow and specialized audience. If your work does not fit the niche, it is likely to be rejected. The same is true for food blogs. Choose a food blog with a clearly defined audience and purpose. Ideally, the food blog will have an audience that shares your interests and enthusiasm for a specific topic. Identify the editor of the blog and get to know him or her. A good editor can make all the difference in a successful submission. A reputable editor can offer helpful advice and feedback on your work.