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Food Writing Competition 2021

Full Details

Covid-19 has unleashed changes on nearly every part of society, including the world of food. More people are cooking at home, growing their own food, and finding creative solutions to cupboards full of canned goods. Meanwhile, the pandemic has gutted the restaurant industry, put workers in meat processing plants and migrant farmers at higher risk, and made everyone everywhere realize that where our food comes from and how it is processed and delivered is not to be taken for granted. More than ever, we are aware that food links us to our families, our culture, our environment, our bodies… and to tradition, ritual, and celebration. This month, write an essay about food and so much more. 

Here’s a taste of what we mean (from WtW and beyond!):
  • The Dumpling Table” (WtW): “Why did you add so much meat?” Aunt says as she picks up my behemoth.  With deft fingers she tucks in the tears, halves the meat, reseals the lips, and squishes the dumpling into its proper shape.  She tosses the newly conformed dumpling onto a tray, along with its perfect siblings.  “Is she still learning Mandarin?” she asks.  
  • Lunch Interrupted! COVID-19 and Japan’s School Meals” (Gastronomica): While nearby city markets and green grocers were still open for business, these citizens had come in hopes of snagging a bargain and also supporting their community. This was not your typical farmers’ market—the produce was gathered from unfulfilled school lunch orders. 
  • Virus Threatens Chinese Traditions of Chopsticks and Family-Style Meals” (New York Times): 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.
  • With Schools Closed, Their Gardens Take on a New Role” (Civil Eats): Long-established school gardens are focusing on community service in addition to ongoing education.
  • "The Stewards of Australia's Original Food" (Saveur): 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"(WtW): 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. 
  • Reviving Breadfruit, the Polynesian Staple, Could Nourish People and Fight Climate Change” (Civil Eats): Promoted as the next superfood, breadfruit just might be the world’s most ecological carbohydrate, and on the verge of a much-needed renaissance in Hawaii and beyond.
This month, write an essay about food and so much more. We hungrily await your entry.  

Guiding Ideas
  • 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
Andrea Nguyen is an author, freelance writer, editor, cooking teacher, and consultant. Her cookbooks include The Pho Cookbook, which won a prestigious 2018 James Beard Cookbook Award and garnered praise from many corners of the pho loving world, and Vietnamese Food Any Day. Her articles have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Sunset, Bon Appetit, EatingWell, Cooking Light and Saveur. She has appeared on both local and national television programs and been interviewed on many radio programs, and teaches cooking classes both online and in person.

  • 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 will receive $100, and the runner-up and 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 10, and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.  

Key Dates 
  • May 3: Competition Opens  
  • May 10: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)      
  • May 14: Reviews returned to Writers  
  • May 18: Final Submissions Due
  • May 28: Winners Announced  

WtW Poetry Events and Workshops!
Eager to dive deeper into Creative Nonfiction? Check out our virtual workshops and camps here.

Upcoming Competition
Our Science Fiction Competition opens Monday, June 7th.
Stay tuned for more details!  

Is previously published work eligible?
Our monthly competitions are designed to get you writing across a range of genres throughout the year, so we encourage you to  write a new work for each  competition, but we will also accept work that has been previously shared with a small, local audience (for instance, a piece that was published in a school journal).

How to Enter 
  1. If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free account for Write the World as a young writer here
  2. Hit the “Start Writing” button above! 
  3. Draft your entry! Hit “Save” to return to it later. 
  4. The first 100 people to submit a draft will receive an in-depth review from one of our Expert Reviewers—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals—that you can use to revise your final entry. The “Submit for Expert Review” button will be clickable if slots are still available—click it to have your draft reviewed. (Note: you can still enter the competition if you haven’t received or don’t want to receive an Expert Review!) 
  5. When you are ready to submit your entry, hit the "Submit as Final" button (You can revise, re-publish, and mark any version as your "final submission" until the deadline.)
  6. Only one entry per person, please. 
Writing Guidelines
The power of our writing goes hand in hand with responsibility. Make sure that you’re supporting other people through your writing rather than pulling them down. The types of content that will be removed from the site include, but are not limited to:   
  • Anything that may be deemed hurtful, defamatory or discriminatory in nature.
  • Anything deemed explicit or gratuitously violent.
  • Anything referencing self-harm. 
  • Any commercial posts and/or spam. 
  • Plagiarism (see more at our Writing Guidelines page). 
  • Personal contact information—including usernames on social media or other platforms. This is to protect the privacy of our members.
  • Links to any external websites, with the exception of links to citations as part of an essay, or including links to illustrations or audio as part of a Write the World competition or prompt.
If a writer posts content that violates our terms or goes against our guidelines, we will remove the post and contact the writer when necessary.  Please refer to our Writing Guidelines and site’s terms for further information.
All final submissions will automatically be published on Write the World’s website.

Due Dates
  • May 10 - Drafts Due for Expert Review

  • May 18 - Competition Deadline