This is such a great question. I’ve been asked by Good Magazine to marinate on it. It’s interesting timing as I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I would say that food writing today is an intellectual and emotional funnel to some of the most fundamental issues of our time.
For me food has never been just food, a way to sate physical appetite. It’s been a way to learn to cook, learn about the world, make friends, build self-esteem, be social, create networks, and most importantly for me personally, give wing to dreams and intellect. I was considered a geek and a freak. After all, I grew up during a period when women were getting out of the kitchen like they were making a jailbreak and I was struggling to get in. Friends were outside hanging from trees and rowing in Echo Park. I was cooking and feeding, and reading about cooking and feeding, and reading about how cooking and feeding expresses humanity. This last is key.
Writing about food has the abillity to connect the corporeal, the intellectual and the spiritual worlds we inhabit. That’s why food writing is so important now. The different expressions of the discipline (see below) have the ability to connect the mundane to the vitally important. For how we feed ourselves, in the 21st century in the first world is a choice that has huge moral consequences. For many, the idea that it’s a choice may be news. For most, daily eating is a choice of the default, eg. the industrial or “Big Ag”. There is no intention connected to it. And yet choosing the default today with the knowledge we have of the general unsustainability of current food systems is almost an amoral choice.
So reading food writing is essential. It encourages you to think about many seemingly disconnected threads that we weave into a whole. Whether that whole is sustainable and delicious or horrifying and degenerative is a choice. And it can all begin with a bite of something you love and a few well chosen words on a page.
Different Expressions of the Discipline
Yummyness vs Yuckiness
Cooking Food vs Buying Food
Health vs Illness
Life or Death? Connection vs Disconnection?
Participating in a Huge Chain of Injustice vs Sleeping at Night?