Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dig In - Food blogs

I have spent about 6 hours of the last 24 reading food blogs and websites and I did it all for you.  I now feel at least marginally qualified to share some observations with you about the food blogosphere -- and to make a few recommendations.  I probably need to put in at least another 40 hours before I can really know what I am talking about but I frankly don't have the stomach for that right now,  let alone the time.  I could read more blogs and we will eat frozen pizzas every night for a week or I can take a blog break and give my CSA vegetables the attention they deserve.  Plus I have to leave for the Caledonia drop site in 90 minutes and this needs to get done before I go.  And I have to eat lunch.  (stir fried greens and onions with brown basmati rice and pork from leftover pork chops.  Soy sauce, garlic and ginger of course.)

There are lots of food blogs
I am a positive person and this is a positive blog.  So at this point  I can say this:  My goodness but there is a lot of creative energy out there in support of better meals for all.   News about urban agriculture, farmers markets and CSA's.  Reports on latest developments in federal food policies.  Opinions about how to strengthen local and regional food systems.  Data about the relationship between how we eat and our carbon footprints.  And recipes.  Thousands and thousands of recipes.  Gorgeous pictures of food - cooked and and in its natural state.  And personal stories.   Windows into an amazing array of food lifestyles and meal adventures.  Good writing.  Boring writing.  Self absorbed writing.  It is all there for you for free.  All you need is time and a computer or other device with an internet connection.

I have not found any other blogs like this one yet
Many of the bloggers are so earnest.  So focused.  So -- uh --  obsessed??   I particularly tried to find blogs and posts relating to people's CSA experiences.  It is not uncommon for people who are members of a CSA to have a food blog and to write about their experiences cooking with vegetables from their boxes.   Most include only a few posts.   So far I have not found anything sustained.  I do know that some Featherstone CSA members have some nice blogs, because I have checked out a few.  It would be fun to organize a blog roll including just food blogs from Featherstone members.  Or maybe a Google group?  Your thoughts are welcome.

My personal favorite comment from a CSA blogger was from someone who managed to post off and on for about three months:  "I find it's really easy to get my family to eat salad greens if they have bacon on them".  BINGO!  The bacon solution.  Used by restaurants everywhere, which is why pork belly futures are probably a good investment.

Anyway, it is kind of interesting to learn how some real people are approaching the everyday challenge of putting meals on the table using real food and getting their family to eat them.   And it is great that they want to share their experiences with others, if only their friends and family.

What is a blog anyway?
Good question.  It is a website that is updated frequently (hopefully) in a journal style.  Each update is called a "post".  The writing is less formal than you would find in a newspaper or magazine (print or online).  It can be the work product of one person or a group of people.  It can be one person's personal labor of love or it can be a highly commercial and expensive project involving many people and writers.   It is often incorporated into  a "host" website of a company or organization.  Blogs can be part of a complex network of related blogs and websites and links.  Part of the blog game is to get lots of other people to link to your blog.  So you can get more "pageviews".    We used to call this a popularity contest.

How do I find a good blog for me?
Finding a satisfying blog match is not exactly like choosing a life partner.   It is more like deciding who to date.  Just as you can date more than one person at a time, you can read more than one blog.  You can drop a blog and find another one that suits you better.  But your time is valuable.  After a while you might want the comfort of a blog commitment.  Somehow you need to narrow the choices or you will go crazy. 

How to narrow the choices?  
If you are reading this you have already made one choice - even for just one page view.  I hope you are here because you find this blog useful, inspirational or maybe just fun.  Those are good reasons to read a blog regularly.

What is your personal demographic?  What is your age? Where do you live?  What kind of food do you like or want to learn more about?  Do you want recipes using lots of vegetables?  Or are you wanting to learn more about baking bread?  Do you want to learn more about food policy or politics?  What blogs do your good friends love?  Once you know what you want - it is a lot easier to go blog shopping.  Blog shopping involves clicking around websites until you find something interesting.  I don't recommend doing this for more than one hour at a time.  Especially if you are at work.
Some things to consider
Once you have found a blog or two that seem fun or interesting to you, ask yourself a few questions. 
Is the subject matter of the blog interesting or important to me?  Is the information reliable or trustworthy?  Current?  Who writes for the blog?  Does anyone edit the blog?  Is the blogger a crazy person?  Do I like their writing style or does it annoy me? 

 Do I have time to read blogs?
This is a really good question.  I am having trouble reading the New Yorker every week and have let my subscription to the Smithsonian lapse.  I still do manage to check in to the New York Times and the Star Tribune.  I am just starting to figure out the new media and develop my own internet reading lifestyle.  I am guessing that if you are in your 20's or 30's you have a very different approach to information gathering than someone in their 50's or 60's.  I know a lot of people who still absolutely have to have a hard copy to read a newspaper or magazine.   They are not good candidates for reading blogs.
I think if you have time to read anything you have time to read a blog or two - IF you find it valuable or entertaining.  Since I pretty much don't read magazines any more, I am slowly assembling a list of reliable blogs and websites.  I have discovered the Google "reader" feature - and I use that to subscribe to blogs that I like.  I can read them in one place - it is like my personal magazine.  You can subscribe to cook out of the box too -- see the home page.

If you are not using up your vegetables every week or are not cooking much at home,  then maybe you don't have time to read blogs - except for this one of course.

Cook out of the box blog list
I have put links to a few favorite blogs on my blog home page.   Let me know what you think.  Is there a blog you think other Featherstone CSA members would like to read?  Tell me about it and I will check it out.


  1. I think it would be pretty cool to compare notes with other Featherstone CSA bloggers! Meanwhile, you can come and see what I've been making with what's in the box (as well as many other things)over the last year and a half at my blog. (

  2. Anne Marie - I just put a link to your blog on my blog list. I think it would be good to add more Featherstone CSA member food blogs - we are all working with some of the same food - we have so much in common.

  3. I've blogged about soups I've made from my featherstone CSA. My blog isn't exclusively a food blog, but I plan to add more as the squash comes in and I have a field day with curry soups.