Saturday, November 29, 2008

Michael Pollan's Open Letter to the New President

Not to spoil the reading of this great piece of political agri-food writing, Michael Pollan urges the next president of the USA to "eat less oil and more sunlight." He also proposes turning the ridiculously large (and chemical-intensive no doubt) south lawn of the White House into an organic garden to provide food to the White House and the local food banks of the area!

This letter was written and appeared before Obama became the President-elect, but for those of you food activists / gardeners and foodies out there, this is a great political food essay. Maybe we should write one to Stephen Harper??

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food Trends Summary

Here's the list of food trends to watch that we came up with on Day 1. Feel free to add any new trends that you see emerging.

Eat Your Words Food Trends to Watch in 2009

  • Chocolate: single estate, organic, flavoured, nutriceutical, etc.
  • Charcuterie: cured, salted, smoked meats
  • Fresh herbs and edible flowers / balcony herb gardens
  • South American / Latin food
  • Oysters
  • Sustainable seafood and fish: See A Good Catch: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from Canada’s Top Chefs, published by Greystone Books/David Suzuki Foundation, 2008; and Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe, published by Harper Collins, 2008
  • Real Bread
  • Glamorizing traditional, rustic, “peasant” dishes and especially cuts of meat
  • Classic cocktails are back: Cocktails with bitters, and obscure mixes like Frenet Branca
  • Back to the Table movement / Slow Food
  • Raw Food (though it’s still fringe, but we’re seeing more prepared foods touting raw food ingredients and sections of specialty grocery stores
  • Mainstreaming of the “groceraunt” (ie. Sobey’s oyster bar and in-store restaurant); "Almost cooking"
  • “Snout to tail” cooking / meats

  • Heirloom beans; ties in with the seed-saving trend, concerns about maintaining biodiversity
  • Slow Cooker / batch-cooking / community kitchens
  • Do-it-yourself cooking / preserving and canning

Writers Guidelines

As promised, here are some links to some writers guidelines to look at. When a publication goes to the trouble to have these available, it really is a good idea to look at them closely. And if you can do an on-line search or in-library search, make sure that your topic hasn't been covered already in the past year or so.

Western Living magazine. Scroll down on the page and find the link in red called "submission guidelines.

EnRoute magazine: Air Canada's inflight magazine. November is the "Food Issue" but food articles appear in almost every issue.

More Magazine: A very good Canadian mag aimed at women over 40. (Could be a good market for healthy living / food articles.)

Cottage Magazine: A Western Canadian magazine covering recreational issues.

If there are any magazines in particular that anyone wants me to hunt down, just let me know. I'll see what I can do!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Michael Pollan's Webcast...

I know a number of you have read Michael Pollan's excellent food journalism: The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Those are just his two more recent and success books, but he contributes articles regularly to the New York Time Magazine (which is where I first read an article about "food miles" and that "big organics" might not be the answer intended by the back-to-the-land movement in the 1960s. This article became the impetus for The Omivore's Dilemma, and in essence was a sneak peak at the major trend that would explode two years later (hint!).

I found this webcast on the Internet and it has some excellent food writing insights and tips. It was taped just as he was finishing The Omnivore's Dilemma. It deals with food writing in general (the introduction is a bit rambling, but stick it out until Pollan takes the podium). The entire broadcast runs just over an hour, but you can pause it and take breaks, or make a big bowl of popcorn and sit down and watch the whole thing. Enjoy.

Michael Pollan's Writers at Work Webcast (2005)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

2008 Canadian Culinary Book Award Winners

Winners of Canadian Culinary Book Awards Announced

November 7, 2008 - (GUELPH, ON) Some of Canada’s top food professionals spent their summer at their stoves testing recipes and evaluating culinary books from more than 50 entrants and now Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph are proud to announce the winners of the 11th annual Canadian Culinary Book Awards.
Winners in the English Cookbook Category are:

  • Gold: Fresh: seasonal recipes made with local foods by John Bishop and Dennis Green (Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver)
  • Silver: Dish entertains: everyday simple to special occasions by Trish Magwood (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto)

Winners in the English Special Interest Category, books about food, but not cookbooks, are:
  • Gold: Ultimate foods for ultimate health . . . and don’t forget the chocolate! by Liz Pearson and Mairlyn Smith (Whitecap Books Ltd., North Vancouver)
  • Silver: The 100-mile diet: a year of local eating by Alisa Smith and J.R. MacKinnon (Random House Canada, Toronto)

Winners for the English Canadian Food Culture Category, books that best illustrate Canada’s rich culinary heritage and food culture are:

  • Gold: A year at Les Fougères by Charles Part and Jennifer Warren-Part (Chelsea Books, Chelsea, Quebec)
  • Silver: Menus from an orchard table: celebrating the food and wine of the Okanagan by Heidi Noble (Whitecap Books Ltd., North Vancouver)
The contest was also open to Canadian French-language culinary books.

Winners in the French Cookbook Category are:
  • Gold: Stefano Faita, entre cuisine et quincaillerie by Stefano Faita (Editions du Trécarré -Groupe Librex, Montréal)
  • Silver: Serge Bruyère: ses recettes originales et revisitées by Project Coordinator and Author Anne L. Desjardins, (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal)

Winners in the French Special Interest Category, books about food, but not cookbooks, are:
  • Gold: La chimie des desserts: tout comprendre pour mieux les réussir by Christina Blais and Ricardo (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal)
  • Silver: Les vins du nouveau monde, tome 1 by Jacques Orhon (Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal)

Cuisine Canada is a national alliance of Canadian culinary professionals who share a common desire to encourage the development, use and recognition of fine Canadian food and beverages. The University of Guelph has for more than 140 years contributed to Canadian cuisine in its programs in agriculture, food science, hospitality and tourism management and is the home of one of Canada’s best cookbook collections. For more information about the awards visit:

The Canadian Culinary Book awards are sponsored by: The Agricultural Adaptation Council, The Ancaster Old Mill, Beef Information Centre, Borealis Grille, CanolaInfo, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Delta Chelsea, Dufflet Pastries, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Fairmont Hotels, George Brown College, Harbinger Communications, Liaison College, Niagara College, Niagara College Teaching Winery, Ontario Farm Fresh, Parmalat Canada, Rootham Gourmet Preserves, Royal Winter Fair, Sleeman Breweries Ltd. and Stratford Chefs School.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Cassandra Umbriaco, Harbinger Communications
(416) – 960 – 5100 x 251

Here's the list of Food Writing Resources so far...

The reason I tend to wait to hand-out the ever-useful list of all those great essential food writing books, websites and magazines, is that the list usually doubles with suggestions from in-class.

So, here's the list I started. There are some more additions to be made given our discussion from yesterday. Please feel free to suggest others we may have missed. On Wednesday I'll finish the final compilation and send it to The Writing Works to photocopy for us. I'll bring the copies next Saturday. Some of the links are active. I'll make them all live by the end of the day. (I forgot that I promised to help my husband with some stuff first thing this morning! Ooops.)


Eat Your Words 2008: Resource Sheet

Essential Resources:
• The New Food Lover's Companion, 4th edition (2007), Sharon Tyler Herbst, $15, softcover. Barron’s Educational Series.

• The New Wine Lover’s Companion, 2nd edition (2003), Ron Herbst and Sharon Tyler Herbst, $15, softcover. Barron’s Educational Series.

• The New Food Lover’s Tiptionary: More Than 6,000 Food and Drink Tips, Secrets, Shortcuts, and Other Things Cookbooks Never Tell You, Sharon Tyler Herbst, $26, softcover (2002). William Morrow Publishing.

• The Recipe Writer’s Handbook: revised and expanded, Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker, $20, softcover. John Wiley and Sons, 2001.

• Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More…, Dianne Jacob, $21.50. Marlowe and Company, 2005.

• A good English language dictionary such as the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Ask the editor / publication for whom / for which you are writing for the name(s) of the dictionary and or style guide he or she / it adheres to.

• Periodic Writers Association of Canada for information on current freelance markets to copyright info and ready-made writing contracts. If you qualify, you may consider joining. The membership fee for an individual is $240 / year.
PWAC’s sister site is a searchable database for PWAC-member writers and lists current pay rates for freelance writers.

• Canadian Authors Association / Alberta branch . Benefits: monthly meetings, newsletters, the national CAA conference, mentoring and professional development opportunities. Annual fees $157.50 / year for individual members or a $50 student fee.

• The Writer’s Guild of Alberta . Benefits: Bi-monthly magazine, manuscript reading services, support information, networking, workshops and retreats. Membership is $60 per year or $30 for students and seniors.

• Cuisine Canada a national association of food professionals (writers included). Annual cookbook awards and food media awards. $39.90 annual dues.

• The International Association of Culinary Professionals a US-based association of culinary professionals. Benefits: the big annual conference every year, many major publication editors and publishers are members; IACP cookbook and writing awards (non-members can submit entries) and general food news. Dues: $270, ($220 annual dues, plus $50 initiation fee).

• James Beard House insider’s access to the New York food scene and James Beard Awards.

• Slow Food began in Italy but has gone worldwide. Their manifesto states that "A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life" and is committed to protecting regional cuisines, artisanal food products and indigenous food sources. For information on the Edmonton chapter, contact Mary Bailey at 431-1802 / .

• Introduce yourself to local tourism organizations / tourism representatives. They can help you generate story ideas and find contacts for stories. For instance, Travel Alberta / In Province sends out regular bulletins of up-coming press trips in Alberta and story ideas.

Good food & drink reading:
• Best Food Writing 2007, edited by Holly Hughes, published by Marlowe and Company, $16, softcover. (annual series)

• On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, 2nd edition 2004), Harold McGee, published by Harper Collins, now in softcover.

• Becoming a Chef, Culinary Artistry and Dining Out, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Wiley and Sons, $41.95, softcover. Great resources on North American food and restaurant culture.

• City Palate magazines , in both Edmonton and Calgary. Published 6 times per year. Free pickups or available by subscription.

• City Food magazine West Coast and Pacific NW foodie periodical, published 5 times per year. Free pickup or avail by subscription.

• The Edible Prairie Journal magazine (, avail by subscription. Food Arts magazine (available at Hub Cigar and Front Page downtown) for cutting edge restaurant trends and news. (Especially the December issue each year.)

• Food & Wine magazine, , for hot trends and the current food writing style of first person singular, present tense, widely available.

• Saveur magazine, , for food trends but more of the literary element of food writing.

• Gastronomica magazine, . Literary food and drink writing. The tag line is: “The pleasures and aesthetics of food combined with the latest in food studies, food, culture, and society.”

• Wine Spectator for wine education and good food writing, especially restaurant reviews; widely available.

• The New Yorker magazine for good food writing, trends, people profiles. Every September, the New Yorker publishes a “food issue.”

• Air Canada’s EnRoute magazine publishes a very successful Annual Food Issue every November <>

• Cook’s Illustrated for investigative recipe writing,

• Food writers living and dead you may want to read: Jeffrey Steingarten, Anthony Bourdain, Bill Buford, Adam Gopnik, Malcolm Gladwell, MFK Fisher, Elizabeth David, Laurie Colwin, Margaret Visser, Harold McGee, Michael Pollan, Ruth Reichl…

Online Food Sites of Note
Local Sites

Food Message Boards, News & Trend-spotting

Food Writers and Good Foodwriting On-line

Professional Development:
• The Symposium for Professional Food Writers, a Professional food writers and editors only, limited to 90 attendees, May 11 to 15, 2009, for more info go to

• Any good writing course, especially ones that focus on developing essay writing skills for those who wish to write for newspapers and magazines.

• Enter writing competitions, nominate your writing for awards.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Welcome Eat Your Words 2008 Participants!

Wow, what a great group again. I thought that maybe last year's group of talented, interested foodies was just beginners luck.

Anyway, welcome again. I hope you enjoyed Day 1 today. It's a long day to sit and learn, but everyone did well. The chocolate and cookies helped too, right?

So tomorrow I'll post a few of the lists, website and other material that I said I would. I'll do that early in the morning so you "morning people" can start looking through them. But right now, it's a beer and supper for me:)

This is a forum for all current and past participants for Eat Your Words. It's a way to stay in touch and post questions. Any one of us can post, which also means that if you have advice, news, answers to the posted questions or just general food observations that you need a home for, you can use this site. You'll need a Google / Blogger ID to post or reply to anything. It's free and quick to set up. If you have any questions how to do that, just email me and I'll walk you through the process.

Cheers all!