Writing About Food


Often referred to as “the common denominator of civilization,” food serves many functions. It provides essential nutrients for survival, contributes to culture and tradition, and helps us to socialize with others. It can also provide psychological benefits, such as the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin during eating. Food is also a major economic driver, and many people work directly in food production.

People consume a wide variety of foods to meet their daily nutritional needs. The main types of foods are grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts and seeds, meat, fish and poultry, dairy products and eggs. Each of these groups provides unique vitamins and minerals that are important to human health.

A person’s diet can vary greatly between countries or even within a single country, depending on geographic location and availability of different types of food. Diets can also change over time as a result of improved farming techniques, increased globalization and trade, and changing lifestyles.

The food industry promotes its products through advertising, but some writers have devoted their careers to analyzing the cultural and historical implications of foods and beverages. These authors include Michael Pollan, Nigella Lawson, and M.F.K. Fisher, whose literary prowess stretches across genres. In addition to traditional journalism and recipe books, food writing includes memoirs, the culinary mystery, non-fiction food history and foodways (with a full-on anthropological concentration).

It’s crucial for anyone who writes about food to research thoroughly. Failing to do so can make a writer look ignorant at best and careless and possibly offensive at worst. Moreover, it’s important for a writer to respect the cultural context of the foods and recipes she covers, whether they hail from down the street or halfway around the world.

Some words, like “odd” or “strange,” should be avoided in food writing, as they can convey a negative attitude toward an ethnic group or region. It’s also important to avoid using words like “yummy,” “tasty” and “yumminess.” These words are often overused and tend to sound clich├ęd, resulting in a monotonous style of writing. Instead, try to find a descriptive way to describe a dish that will create an immersive experience for readers.