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The Writing Life
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by Aditi Bose
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Food and Travel
Publications like thecultureist.com and bootsnall.com accept features that deal with food in the context of travel. While the former pays $30 for a 1200-word article, the latter pays $50 for a 4000-5000 word feature. Travel-related food articles could include topics like the local cuisines of various countries, popular roadside eateries, food eaten during various festivals, how a staple food is cooked differently in different countries using different ingredients, etc.
On the other hand, winemag.com is keen on receiving travel-related features with a maximum word limit of 800 that discuss different wineries and restaurants. This publication places a special emphasis on statistics and quotes, wine-tasting rooms and museums, and wine customs around the world.
One word of advice while writing 'food and travel' features: It is always better to write about a place that you have really visited instead of one where you've simply gathered a lot of information from the Internet or magazines. Only when such stories have been infused with a host of genuine details will they really come alive. For example, one writer might write, 'we were served chicken on a plate,' while another writes, 'we were served chicken on a brass plate that was placed on a marble table' -- which do you suppose the editor will buy? The details in the second example paint a picture in the minds of the readers that help them to get a feel of the place.
History of Food
Sites like gastronomica.org, thefoodiebugle.com, and winemag.com seek features that deal with the history of food. This could include articles that talk about the origin of a particular type of dish or cuisine, or articles describing the entire process involved before a food or drink arrives on the dinner table -- from the farm to the machines that process it, to the way it is cooked. For example, consider writing about an exotic wine that's produced in a secluded vineyard that only you are aware of, or the stories behind wine labels. Eatingwell.com also has readers who are interested in knowing about the origins of food and accepts articles on that topic at the rate of $1 per word.
A word of advice if you plan to become a 'food historian:' Go beyond chronologically tracking the origin of a food and find the 'tidbits' that will make your article more interesting. For example, if you are writing about salt, you could mention that at one time salt was so valuable that it was used to pay salaries -- hence the word.
Uses of Food
Sites like gastronomica.org and eatingwell.com welcome articles that talk about the various uses of a particular food item, such as the uses of spices like turmeric or herbs like the holy basil. While writing such features, one important thing to keep in mind is that a food can be often used for edible and non-edible purposes. So when choosing an ingredient that you wish to write about, do thorough research to find out about ALL the uses that it might have.
The more common the ingredient and the more uncommon its, uses the more catchy your manuscript will be. For example, you might point out that ketchup removes tarnish, turmeric prevents cold and cough, oats alleviate acne, and popcorn can be used as a Christmas tree decoration.
Small Food Businesses
Thefoodiebugle.com encourages articles that review new entrepreneurs who are serving healthy and fresh home-cooked food, those that conduct cookery schools, vineyard owners who hold wine tasting events, artisans who create exquisite crockery and glassware, and so forth.
Thecultureist.com and winemag.com accept reviews of cookery/wine tasting books and interviews with food and wine authors as well. Make sure that these interviews ask poignant questions and don't sound like an ordinary news report.
Eatingwell.com also encourages features that highlight the work of an individual who is promoting values like education on nutrition, environment, animal welfare, healthy eating within the community, etc. The more unique the topic, the greater the chances of acceptance.
Since this type of article relies on an individual and his story, don't hesitate to put a few difficult questions to your subject. It is these tough questions that will open new avenues of discussion for you and thereby create an excellent story. However, always keep your tone polite and respectful.
Food Laws and News
Thefoodiebugle.com accepts essays of around 2000 words that examine food-related laws and legislation, issues that small rural farmers and food producers face, middlemen issues, animal rearing, and so forth. Winemag.com accepts features about the latest news from the wine regions of the world, especially on controversies and new innovations.
Eatingwell.com accepts similar features. However, for this publication, when you are writing on various facts and figures and interpreting the labels on food packets, it's best to keep the tone journalistic in nature.
Sites like boiseweekly.com and winemag.com accept 900-word features related to seasonal food trends. The more unusual and non-traditional the topic, the better the chances of it being accepted. In fact, the latter is open to receiving articles that talk of "weird food," such as a feature about lesser-known aphrodisiacs like the durian fruit or the genitals of a tiger. Eatingwell.com has a section for 350-word articles dealing with seasonal trends in food and seasonal eating practices.
Yankeemagazine.com covers the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and accepts 'food trend' features relating to these regions. Deepsouthmag.com, headquartered in Louisiana, accepts features related to food that reflect Southern charm.
One thing to bear in mind while writing a feature on trends is that describing a trend is not enough. You will need to research the statistics, stories and reasons behind the trend. For example, if you have decided to write on 'going healthy by consuming organic food,' try exploring which farms grow it, which restaurants are serving it, why it is healthier, how people have benefited, and so on.
Alimentumjournal.com and gastronomica.org accept food poetry. For a food poem to strike the right chord, describe things like the taste, colour and flavours of a dish. Adding a picture of the dish or ingredient that you are writing about adds a helpful extra touch The former even considers songs and artwork for their site.
While writing food poetry, do keep in mind the length limits. Usually these are mentioned in the submission guidelines. For example, cultureword.org.uk accepts poems of no more than 60 lines, while the maximum length for greendove.net is 50 (poems for this publication should address foods local to Bloomington).
Food and Fun
Gastronomica.org and winemag.com accept food-related cartoons, quizzes, puzzles and games. Similarly, eatingwell.com has a section titled Food I.Q., where they accept 300-word articles on new food-related research presented in a true-false or multiple choice quiz format.
Food and Kids
Most websites related to children, like metroparent.com and mothering.com, accept features that deal with food issues relating to infants, toddlers and even teenagers. Some of the topics that these sites cover include:
For all these, once you have chosen a broad topic that you wish to write for, ask yourself what that one thing is that you would like to know or read about, and write on that. Often, you will find that it is a topic that either you have had a lot of experience on and wish to share with others, or a topic on which information is not readily available online or even in parenting books.
While writing, use words that are simple rather than a local jargon, and illustrate methods that are easy to follow. Aim for crisp writing with bullet points. This is because most of the time the readers of such features will be mothers who have little time to spare and are looking for an answer to a particular query.
Sites like gastronomica.org, thefoodiebugle.com and winemag.com accept food photographs. If you plan to submit photos to these sites or others, here are a few tips on food photography.
So here are ten new avenues that you can explore if you are interested in writing about food. While I have mentioned a few sites where such features can be submitted, keep in mind that hundreds of magazines accept food features even if that isn't their primary topic. If you already have a relationship with a particular magazine or website, go ahead and pitch a food-related topic and see what happens!
This article is not available for reprint without the author's written permission.
Aditi Bose, an Economics graduate and an MBA in marketing, has over 8 years of experience in the research and talent search industry. Currently she freelances with a number of Indian and U.S. websites and specializes in articles related to parenting, food and travel. Her work has appeared on sites like Indusladies, Rediff, Getahead and Bootsnall.