Writing About Food

Food is any substance that provides energy and nutrients to living things. It is primarily composed of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. It may be eaten raw or cooked and consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy. Some foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain friendly bacteria that help the digestive system function properly. Writing about food is a diverse field that can include recipes, restaurant reviews and features, short and long journalism, memoir, cookbooks, fiction (from erotica to the culinary mystery), nonfiction about food history or culture, foodways with a full-on anthropological concentration, and academic research papers.

The term food writer did not enter English usage until the 1930s, when it was coined by proliferating food corporations that wanted to woo customers with cunning pamphlets in which quotations from 19th-century luminaries like Brillat-Savarin and Benjamin Disraeli appeared embedded among instructions for heart-shaped Wonder Bread “honeymoon” sandwiches and cocktail glasses filled with California canned asparagus tips and tomato aspic served “very cold.” M.F.K. Fisher, whose work remains unclassified, was a food writer who is often cited as the best American essayist of her generation. Her oeuvre was both exquisitely nostalgic and wickedly funny, and she is sometimes compared to Virginia Woolf and James Joyce as an essayist who transcended genre boundaries.

Writing about food requires the writer to use sensory language to convey the food’s flavors, textures and aromas to readers. This can be done through similes that draw comparisons between a known food and the unknown one, or by using descriptive words that appeal to a reader’s sense of taste and smell. It is also important to avoid cliches and overused food words such as “delicious” and “tasty.”

While some people eat a wide variety of foods, others cannot because of medical conditions, allergies or other reasons. Insufficient or excessive food consumption can lead to health problems including obesity and malnutrition.

Many people prefer to buy locally sourced food because they believe it is healthier, fresher and better for the environment. It is often possible to purchase foods directly from farmers at local markets and through online shopping websites and apps. It is also possible to find bulk bins at grocery stores that allow you to choose your own amount of items for less money. Meal planning can also be a great way to reduce waste by purchasing only what you need and avoiding unnecessary purchases. Buying from local vendors can also support the economy and build community. In addition, buying local produces can be more environmentally friendly since it reduces transportation costs and fuel emissions. It is also a good idea to shop with a list, as this will help you stay focused and limit impulse buys. The best food writers are skilled in a number of writing styles and techniques that appeal to readers’ senses of sight, sound, touch and smell. They are able to capture a sense of place and make the food experience memorable.