Context and Food Writing

There is so much that is quotable from the article New Grub Street from the Columbia Journalism Review, that I could easily start several different conversations from it. I may just do so. But to get the ball rolling, let me offer my own take, without quoting from the article.

I feel one of the biggest failures of Mainstream Food Reporting (let’s call it MFR from here on out) is the lack of context it provides. A quick glance at the majority of food sections of most local papers is all that’s needed to verify that. A recipe or two, an article on the food of the week, and possible a restaurant review are often all that I’m able to find.

The reality is that food is part of a much bigger picture, one often ignored. When was the last time Cooking Illustrated did a piece on cultural economics or Gourmet Magazine published an article about how we can feed the planet?

To be fair, these focus of these magazines isn’t (and shouldn’t be) on these larger issues, but instead I’m using them to illustrate a point . Food touches EVERYTHING on this planet – economics, the environment, the extinction of certain species – but it is difficult to realize this when you look at the Cookbook section of the local Barnes and Noble.

So I’m very welcoming of this recent trend in food writing that talks about the bigger picture, although I’d wish they’d stop giving Michael Pollan all the credit for this trend Hullo? Did you guys forget about Eric Schlosser Fast Food Nation?