NPR

Breaking The Bubble Of Food Writing: Cultivating Diverse Stories

The world of food is vast, but we tend to hear about the same cuisines over and over again. So how do we tip the scales in favor of more diversity among food writers?
Americans are more curious about different cuisines than ever before. But who gets to write about these cuisines, and which ones get covered? Source: LA Johnson/NPR

In the late 1980s, a friend gave me a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "BLACK BY POPULAR DEMAND." That gift came during a time when strong expressions and affirmations of black identity enjoyed a surge of popularity not seen since the 1960s. I've been thinking a lot about that catch phrase in the context of the recent, vibrant discussions about the place of African-Americans in today's national food scene. For people of color who want to tell food stories, "Black by Popular Demand" poignantly exposes the twin challenges we face: getting the key decision-makers in mainstream food media (I call them "gatekeepers") to desire our stories, and getting our own communities to devour our work.

Except for those times we self-publish, food writers try to persuade gatekeepers to publish our work. Gatekeepers are those who determine what content will go in magazines, newspapers, radio shows or websites; those who decide which

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min read
Deadly Brain Cancers Act Like 'Vampires' By Hijacking Normal Cells To Grow
Researchers say certain brain cancers tap electrical signals from healthy cells to fuel their growth. The finding could lead to treatments for deadly tumors like the one that killed Sen. John McCain.
NPR2 min read
Japanese Court Acquits Former Utility Executives Over 2011 Fukushima Disaster
The three ex-Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives were found not guilty of professional negligence linked to the meltdown of three of the nuclear power plant's reactors after an earthquake and tsunami.
NPR1 min read
Heritage Month Special: Mexican Music Then And Now
Three portraits of musicians and a filmmaker who illuminate distinct forms of Mexican music expression.