Writing About Food


Food is the nourishment that supports a person’s physical growth and well-being. It provides the energy, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals needed for an organism to function. Most plants produce their own food through photosynthesis, while animals obtain it from other living things or organic materials. Often, food is cooked or processed before eating. In developed countries, people have enough money to buy a variety of nutritious foods, and malnutrition is rare. In developing nations, the availability of food varies, and many people struggle to afford healthy food.

In the United States, more than one third of the population has limited incomes and relies on government assistance to help them buy food. In addition, the food supply is vulnerable to disruptions from climate change and other environmental factors. These challenges can lead to the overproduction of food that is then sold cheaply to consumers who cannot afford it. The resulting low-quality, high-salt, and high-fat food is often called junk food.

Writing about food requires a wide range of skills, including descriptive writing. Choosing the right adjectives can make your descriptions come alive, but avoid overusing them. Adjectives can weaken your writing and cause reader fatigue. Aim for fewer adjectives and more action words, like Richman did with his sausage example. Instead of describing how the sausage tasted, he described what happened when he cut it.

A successful food writer also needs to understand how his or her work impacts the world around them. This means avoiding stereotypes of specific cultures’ cuisines and being mindful of how the food is prepared. For example, a story about a dish from an indigenous community should focus on the people and the culture that makes it. It should not denigrate the cuisine or imply that it is sloppy, unappetizing, or unhealthy.

Getting started with food writing can be intimidating, but it’s important to find your niche and start writing. By taking the time to research and learn the basics, you can develop your skills and build a portfolio that showcases your expertise. If you want to write about food for a living, check out this list of national and regional consumer publications that publish food-related articles. If you’re interested in a more specialized audience, consider this collection of nutritional and ethical food reform, or trade publications that cover the food business.