On Becoming a Food Writer
Well, I hope I’m finally hitting my stride as a food writer with The Oregonian publishing my Slow Food piece and MIX magazine “Eat Here: Newport” review in the past week. Still, as a freelancer, there’s always the fear that editor’s budgets are drying up (and they are).
The Slow Food piece was timely with Alice Waters’ much-debated appearance on 60 Minutes last week. I believe her defense of the universal right to pleasurable food is genuine, but somehow she’s no longer the best standard bearer for mainstreaming the local food movement. Chez Panisse feels out of touch with reality, not too mention charges prices unaffordable to most Americans. New figures such as eco-chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry seem a better bridge to bring good food to underserved communities now. I’ll blog about my radio interview with Terry in another post. For African-Americans, he stresses, it’s about returning to their agrarian roots, where backyard gardens and slow-cooked Sunday meals were de rigeur, before cheap industrialized food led folks astray. It’s not enough to plant gardens in urban ghettos, he says. You have to teach people to cook healthily with those ingredients. Rather than preaching, he feeds people, gaining his converts at the table. The power of a locally-grown peach or olive oil-sauteed collards that make you forget about ham hocks is what wins people over to his side.