If you’re a food writer, you already know there’s more to “chew on” than the latest recipes for healthy brownies and the newest sushi bar opening. These days, it’s almost impossible to get through the evening news without hearing about which fast-food chain is ditching what ingredients, how many people have fallen ill from food-borne disease or the latest government program to prod people into adopting better eating habits. Although a lot of it sounds like gobbledygook, it is a global phenomenon that shows no signs of abating. We are, after all, a health-conscious society.
A Healthy Skepticism
Maintaining a sense of humor as well as a sense of balance about food and restaurant news, as well as health, nutrition and agricultural topics is one way for a responsible content writer to sort through the hype and hysteria. Misinformation, faulty conclusions and overblown statements populate press releases and blog posts on both sides of every issue. Whatever the topic of the day might be — genetic engineering, school lunches, overweight and obesity, organic farming, global hunger and malnutrition, animal welfare, childhood disease, food safety or the price of sugar — the facts often don’t support the claims.
There is so much conflicting information that it’s not only hard to swallow; it’s impossible to digest.
What’s a food writer to do?
There is, of course, nothing wrong with writing content about restaurant openings and renowned chefs. In fact, those posts can be downright tasty, often profitable subjects on which to base a writing career. It may also be a way to meet interesting people, enjoy your share of good meals (some of them free) and pay your most pressing bills.
On the other hand, if you also want to tell important stories or if you have a passion for finding a kernel of underlying truth, then undertake some “graduate level” research into the growing fields of sustainable, alternative and urban agriculture. It’s not only fascinating; it’s a subject that is also, almost literally, in your backyard. There are no classes to attend and no enrollment fees to pay. It’s a unique, interdisciplinary world to explore, and you’d be surprised at the ways to successfully weave these topics into your work.
Farming comes to town
Governments may debate and regulate, but urban entrepreneurs are making change happen. Professional chefs grow their own herbs and buy eggs and meat from local farmers rather than national purveyors. Major hotels install rooftop gardens to please their executive chefs. Farmers’ markets, greengrocers and community gardens are all thriving. Hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics have come of age and become mainstream methods.
Local school gardens get students of all ages out of their seats and into the dirt for at least a portion of each day. Mobile “grow-vans” filled with salad greens and fresh produce may become as commonplace in some neighborhoods as popular food trucks. Backyard, and even front-yard, gardens are now commonplace in suburbia.
There is much to marvel at in these revolutionary approaches to old problems. There is even more to write about. For any freelancer with an appetite for the wider fields of health and nutrition, these emerging topics can be a recipe for success.
Writer Bio: Adrienne C credits her “cat-like” curiosity for her current fascination with food myth, urban agriculture and sustainable farming. She also likes good food and enjoys creating new recipes.