Food Writing and Activism

My friend Jonesie tipped me off on an interesting looking free lunchtime talk at ANU next Tuesday, 5 August:

Enabling New Ways of Thinking about the World?: The Australian Food Writer as Activist

Food writing makes up a significant proportion of the books, articles, weblogs and other texts written, published, sold and read each year in Australia. While the food writing in cookbooks, magazines and other publications is often thought of as providing useful, but banal, practical skill-based information, recent scholarship has begun to suggest that food writing is a more creative, and interesting, form of cultural production.

As part of a biographically-based study of Australian food writers, this work-in-progress seminar focuses on the roles the contemporary food writer plays in an environment where food is the subject of considerable scholarly, policy and personal interest and anxiety. In such a context, a number of contemporary food writers engage with issues around food production and consumption. These issues include sustainable and ethical agriculture, biodiversity and genetic modification, food miles and fair trade, food safety and security, and obesity, diabetes and other health issues. In this activity, the Australian food writer is, moreover, not only a media commentator on these important contemporary concerns, but is, at times, a forward-thinking activist, advocating and campaigning for change.

Donna Lee Brien is the Associate Professor of Creative Industries, and Head, School of Arts and Creative Enterprise, Central Queensland University. She is the author of John Power 1881-1943 and co-author of the popular self-help books Girl’s Guide to Real Estate: How to Enjoy Investing in Property and Girl’s Guide to Work and Life: How to Create the Life you Want. Donna is widely published in the academic areas of writing pedagogy and praxis, and collaborative practice in the arts. She is the founding co-editor of dotlit: The Online Journal of Creative Writing and Assistant Editor of Imago: New Writing and Imago: Online. Donna is currently an Associate Editor of New Writing: the International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing (UK), and is on the Board of Readers for Writing Macao. She is the President of the Australian Association of Writing Programs and in 2006 was has awarded a Carrick Institute Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning

If I can find someone to sit on the one year old I’ll be there. Full details and contact info here.


7 thoughts on “Food Writing and Activism

  1. You know, I see mostly the banal diatribe in most of the printed media, but online is truly becoming a melting pot of anarchistic food opinion and idea exchange. Probably because Writers don’t get edited as much in that medium and you don’t need to be a professional writer to participate in forums or blogs.

    Would love to be a fly on the wall for that seminar – fingers crossed that a sitter pops into the picture.

  2. right after reading this post i saw an advertisement for “food writers” on seek. Actually they’re asking for contributors to their blog amalgum, in exchange for half of the proceeds your blog generates in advertising (???) –

  3. Grocer, they seem a weird mob to me. Check this out – a list of ignored domains. “The main advantage to taking over an inactive domain, as opposed to registering a new one, is that it’s much easier to attract search engine traffic to older domains. They may also have an established readership or subscription base. “

  4. “and co-author of the popular self-help books Girl’s Guide to Real Estate: How to Enjoy Investing in Property and Girl’s Guide to Work and Life: How to Create the Life you Want. ”

    Yeah, I want to meet her!

    But seriously food writers do have to acknowledge what’s going on in consumer culture more broadly, but in this respect are often followers rather than leaders. Although Stephanie Alexander has become an advocate for a certain sort of food politics in the manner of Alice Waters in USA. Stefano de Pieri is even more activist, coming from a 1970s Labor immigrant background. Some of our best food writers are harder to categorise. Barbara Santich’s work in the Slow Food movement on regional foods is interesting, and Gay Bilson is still the most amazing food writer currently in Australia, but I would like to see someone analyse her work as a “form of cultural production”.

    BTW, it’s generally up to food writers in the classical sense (that is, either recipe writers such as Stephanie or your run-of-the-mill restaurant reviewer) to incorporate this type of commentary, because no one else deigns to do it (that is, as a form of cultural/political critique) except, of course, for the blogger of this particular blog, or the odd column in Old Media, such as Arena Magazine, (OK, which – diclosure, dislcosure – I write.

  5. It’s a pretty fab bio, isn’t it?

    I haven’t read much of Gay Bilson’s writing other than the odd article in the independent. And I’m interested in your stuff from Arena – are the articles online?

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