Writing About Food


Food is any substance consumed to provide energy for the body of humans and animals. It is necessary for growth, repair of tissues and function of the nervous system. Food also provides a means to satisfy emotions and cultural identity. The world of foods and the way people prepare them offers endless topics to explore in writing. Writing about food requires skills similar to other types of writing, including voice, style, detail and research.

People’s diets differ widely around the world, and even within a single country. Some factors that affect diet include climate, availability of food sources, culture and economics. The human relationship with food stretches back thousands of years. Early humans were hunter-gatherers and ate the foods available in their immediate environment. With the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry, people began to grow their own crops and cook their meals.

During the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, technology allowed people to produce larger quantities of food and new products became available. For example, advances in refrigeration and canning made it possible to store and transport foods over long distances. These developments opened the door to more foods being available to more people than ever before.

The modern food industry produces a wide variety of ready-to-eat foods and beverages. Some of these are highly processed and contain many additives, such as preservatives and flavor enhancers. This is a response to consumer demand for foods that are easy to prepare and require little or no cooking. The industry is facing increased regulation to ensure product quality and safety.

Food scientists use knowledge of the physical properties of food, nutrition, physiology and the behavior of consumers to develop better food products. They often work on a variety of projects, such as developing new food flavors and products; improving the nutritional value of processed foods; or finding ways to make food easier to digest.

When describing food, it is important to avoid using words that imply cultural bias. For example, never refer to a cuisine as strange, odd or weird. Although you may have good intentions, the connotations of these words can be offensive to readers from other cultures.

During the course of a lifetime, most people will write about food at least three or four times. These articles may take the form of restaurant reviews, recipes or personal essays about family mealtimes and food-related memories. A writer who is serious about food writing will develop the ability to convey information in a compelling, entertaining and engaging manner. This skill is critical to attracting and retaining an audience. Good food writing can also be a source of personal and professional fulfillment. For example, a food writer who writes a compelling article about how she learned to appreciate her family’s traditional dishes has fulfilled a need for self-expression and connection. Likewise, a successful food writer can draw upon her knowledge of food to promote and market products and services.