Learn to Write About Food, From Policy to Pleasure | Civil Eats

Learn to Write About Food, From Policy to Pleasure

There are many ways that we can interact with our food. We cook it, eat it, some of us garden or farm it, and perhaps we buy it at the market. In addition to all of those, some of us love to write about it.

Food writing takes many forms. Restaurant reviews have a certain celebratory style and language that has long been an established part of our cultural food fascination. On the other extreme, we have works like Fast Food Nation which explore some of the darker aspects of food production. In between these two are a million different voices and styles of prose and poetry relating to the food we eat.

For those of you in the Bay Area, the writing center 826 Valencia is holding a Food Writing seminar to explore how we write about food, and how you can get published, perhaps even paid, to do so.

I will be joining a diverse panel of authors and editors who will be present to discuss all the aspects of this growing field. Mollie Katzen, of The Moosewood Cookbook fame, will undoubtedly be a highlight for many. She will be joined by chef Scott Youkilis, editor of the journal Out of the Kitchen, Lessley Anderson, a senior editor at Chow.com, and Joe Jarrell, a writer for the SF Bay Guardian.

I caught up with Lessley, and asked her how she had become involved with the project. “I had volunteered with 826 Valencia in the past,” she said “and so was excited to be a part of the panel to support their work.”

The writing seminar is a fundraiser for the nonprofit 826 Valencia’s free tutoring and writing programs for 6 – 18 year olds. 826 National has branches in six other cities in addition to the original San Francisco location. The program is founded on the belief that “strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.”

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With food writing specifically, it is clear that success in this particular field can be associated with a broad range of backgrounds. My original writing inspiration came from ecology and nature, as I attempted to emulate the likes of Barry Lopez and Annie Dillard. Lessley mentioned that she, too, did not start writing about food, but rather trained as a journalist and for a time was a crime writer.

But no matter where you begin, food writing is certain to nourish your mind and heart, but also your belly as you nibble away for inspiration while you write.

The Food Writing Seminar will be taking place Thursday, Nov 20 from 6 – 9pm at 826 Valencia, in San Francisco

Photo: asacart

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Chef / Ecologist Aaron French is the Environment Editor at Civil Eats. He is the chef of The Sunny Side Cafe and is writing his first book "The Bay Area Homegrown Cookbook" (Voyageur Press, 2011). He has a Masters in Ecology and is currently working toward his MBA at UC Berkeley, with a focus on sustainable business practices. Read more >

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