Food—and the way we grow, source, prepare, and eat it—links us to our families, our histories, our culture, our health, our environment, and our bodies . . . not to mention to tradition, ritual, and celebration!
On the importance of food, J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.” And another literary superstar, George Orwell, had this to say: "Changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion. The Great War, for instance, could never have happened if tinned food had not been invented.” This month, give us some food for thought, in essay form. Whether you write about a family ritual, the impact of diet on climate change, or schoolyard gardens, we hungrily await your entry.
And remember, dear writers, food writing matters because “it’s not really about the food,” as the journalist and cookbook author Ramin Ganeshram puts it. We’re not looking for five-star restaurant ratings or writers waxing poetic about overpriced escargot and the velvet pioppini (that’s a mushroom). Food writing can be an investigation, an exposé, an odyssey, or a memoir.
Here’s a Taste of What We Mean:
Food Writing Checklist:
- “There is No Dalit Cuisine”: During a recent talk I attended, the speaker claimed that Dalit originates from “dal,” the Hindi word for lentil. Dal is a staple ingredient across caste-bound households. It is not a stretch to claim that caste-bound identity and practices require Dalits to exist, just as much as they require dal as food. Dalit labor is consumed as readily as dal.
- “Eating meat has ‘dire’ consequences for the planet, says report”: To feed a growing global population and curtail climate change, scientists say we need to radically change our food systems.
- “The Curious Case of the Disappearing Nuts”: In California, millions of dollars' worth of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are disappearing. Farmers are perplexed, the cops are confused, and the crooks are getting richer.
- “Revolution of the Hungry”: How famine contributed to Arab Spring.
- "Power Steer": An essay by Michael Pollan that follows the life of a steer (no. 534) from feedlot to slaughterhouse.
- Gastronomica: Stories investigate the politics of the mango, food as non-violent resistance in Palestine, and eating kimchi to regain one’s “ethnic bearings.”
- The Edible Schoolyard: How growing food can revolutionize education.
Who is Eligible?
- MORE THAN FOOD: How can your piece be about something more than food? Can you draw connections to culture or politics or family or geography? What is the underlying importance of your subject? Even if you're writing about your favorite recipe, how can you dig into the social or historical or ethical elements of that food?
- OPENING LINES: Does your beginning grab your reader and refuse to let go? How can you make your reader bite at the first line?
- MEMORABLE DETAILS: Have you drawn on sensory details? Taste and smell perhaps? Or texture? Sound?
- THE ESSAY FORM: Have you drafted an essay (as opposed to a poem or story)? You can find examples of past winning entries here and here.
Young writers ages 13-18
600 – 1,000 words
AO is one of Australia’s great food educators.
Her reputation has been earned through her thirty years as an owner-chef in several restaurants, as the author of 15 influential books and hundreds of articles about food matters, and for her groundbreaking work in schools through the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation
Stephanie’s fifth book, The Cook’s Companion
is regarded as an Australian classic, and has sold 500,000 copies.
- Best Entry: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
- Runner up: $50
- Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
- Prizes: The winning entrant(s) will receive $100, and the best peer-reviewer will receive $50.
- Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.
- Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday May 14th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
May 6: Competition Opens
May 13: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)
May 17: Reviews returned to Writers
May 21: Final Submissions Due
May 31: Winners Announced
Our Fantasy Writing Competition opens Monday, June 3rd.
Stay tuned for more details!
All final submissions will automatically be published on Write the World’s website.