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Food Writing Competition 2020

Full Details

Attention writers! If you think food writing is all five-star restaurant ratings and reviews of overpriced escargot and the velvet pioppini (that’s a mushroom), read on. Food—and the way we grow, source, prepare, eat, and write about it—is so much more.  Food links us to our families, our histories, our culture, our health, our environment, our bodies… and to tradition, ritual, and celebration. As the food journalist and cookbook author Ramin Ganeshram puts it, “it’s not really about the food.” Food writing can be an investigation, an exposé, an odyssey, or a memoir.
Here’s a taste of what we mean:
  • Virus Threatens Chinese Traditions of Chopsticks and Family-Style Meals”: Faced with the spread of disease, the government is promoting using serving utensils, but resistance is strong. Sharing food with personal chopsticks is one way Chinese people express intimacy.
  • "It Tastes Like Cabbage": She throws in powder, picks out a leaf and eats it. This is when I sidle away: she’ll make me try one of those cabbage pieces next and insist it will make me taller, smarter, prettier. Kimchi, she says, is the secret to long life. You’re Korean - she pokes me and in that instant, I wish I was anything else - and this is a Korean dish.
  • This Is the Beginning of the End of the Beef Industry”: Beef is the most wasteful food on the planet. Cows are not optimized to make meat; they’re optimized to be cows. It takes 36,000 calories of feed to produce 1,000 calories of beef.
  • Banking on Wild Relatives to Feed the World”: Having evolved outside the pampered habitat of a farm, wild relatives are hardier than most domesticated species. Their traits, say researchers, could potentially be bred or engineered into crops to produce climate-hardy varieties. If you have not yet heard that “weeds will feed the world,” you soon will.
  • With Schools Closed, Their Gardens Take on a New Role”: Long-established school gardens are focusing on community service in addition to ongoing education.
  • "The Stewards of Australia's Original Food": Bruce Pascoe waded through the shallows at the mouth of Mallacoota Inlet, an estuary in southeastern Australia, on the Tasman Sea. He had a slight frown on his weathered face and a plastic bucket in hand as he lifted tree snags caught on sandbars.
  • "Black People Don't Eat Sushi": Black people don’t eat sushi.” He said it while I was in the middle of filling a bowl with grits, awaiting their seasoning of butter, salt, and pepper (because that’s the way to best serve grits). It was breakfast time at our small church on the side of the road in an affluent suburb of Nashville TN. 

This month, write an essay about food and so much more. We hungrily await your entry.  
  • 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.

Who is Eligible?  
Young writers ages 13-18  
600 – 1,000 words
Guest Judge
Limahl Asmall is passionate about making nutritious and delicious food available to everyone.  He is the founder of the Tiny Budget Cooking website, which was inspired by his own experience and the needs of an increasing number of people to cook on a limited budget. The website has garnered attention for its authentic and inclusive approach to cooking.
  • Best Entry: $100 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the winning piece, and an interview with the author will be featured on Write the World’s blog) 
  • Runner up: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the piece will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
  • Best Peer Review: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the best peer review and an interview with the reviewer will be featured on Write the World’s 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, June 8 and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.   
Key Dates 
  • June 1: Competition Opens  
  • June 8: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)      
  • June 12: Reviews returned to Writers  
  • June 16: Final Submissions Due
  • June 26: Winners Announced  
Upcoming Competition
Our Letter Writing Competition opens Monday, July 6th.
Stay tuned for more details!  
All final submissions will automatically be published on Write the World’s website.