Tales of a Food Writer

Tales of a Food Writer...but not the kind you're thinking.

I am a food writer, but not the kind that gets all-star treatment in the restaurants, who is recognized by name or by Facebook profile. I am not the kind that has catchy by-lines or who happens to get picked as a judge on a television food show. That is not my gig. I am however, the kind of food writer who could tell you whether or not your avocado tree is self-fertile (true story), or who could tell you the nutritional benefits of a certain fruit or root vegetable. I could tell you the scientific name for pretty much any of the foods on my counter right now, and I could tell you how they would benefit your body. I am a content writer for Specialty Produce.

I find different produce items everywhere!
Recently, I was told by none other than award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas of San Diego's Marine Room restaurant, that the work I do is extremely important and that I am helping thousands of people with my writing. My boss (though technically I am a contractual or freelance writer) has said that I am the most read writer of produce in the world. I'm not sure that it's true, but it sounds really cool. I do know that I've written articles (formatted for the web and app) on over 700 different types of produce, including rarely seen items in the continental United States, including dozens of mushroom varieties, exotic and tropical fruits, and more root vegetables than I even knew existed. I also know that some of the products I've written about, the articles specifically, have garnered 500+ likes on Facebook.

I have collected millions of facts about produce items many of my friends have never heard of. I am a great party trick. I have thousands of odd facts floating around in my head. I have some mad research skills and can sometimes get sucked into the "rabbit hole" when trying to find one small detail about a product, whether it be nutritional or cultural or even its sordid history (garlic and lemons, oh my!).

I also get to work with a few other content writers, a cookbook author, and former and current chefs, on editing and amending current and previously written produce articles. Being an editor is fun - mostly because I feel like a grammar nerd most of the time, and this really satisfies that part of me. I tend to call out grammar fails on the regular, from street signs to bathroom signs (with a little public shaming on Instagram), and a certain president's tweets.

To boot, I am married to a chef, who also happens to be in the produce business. He went to culinary school and worked in fine dining and for catering companies. Most notably, he worked for Design Cuisine just outside Washington, DC. He was the butcher and fish monger during the day and worked on site at parties in the evening for Congressional members, even one at Evelyn Kennedy's house, and my favorite of all, he prepped all the Cornish game hens for Barack Obama's 2009 Inaugural Luncheon. So we don't keep the produce talk confined to work, we bring it home, try it, talk about it, and share it with our two kids. We are the epitome of a foodie couple. Entrenched in the scene here in San Diego, primarily because of my husband's experience cooking in San Diego restaurants, but also because he works with many of the fine chefs in downtown and Coronado to help coordinate their menus based on what's seasonally available and what looks the freshest.

Sweet potatoes, garlic, herbs. Pay no attention to the dirty stove! 
We cook together, and prep together. Just last night we made meatloaf (a favorite of our kids, but not something we do often), mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Our kids have crazy palettes and for years in elementary school I would get comments from the teachers about their lunches: "ooh, what were those quinoa bites D had the other day?" "B brought in a giant apple yesterday, what was that?" And for teacher appreciation week, my daughter would always ask for a basket of fruits and veggies for her physical education teacher - the one who loved to talk about good nutrition. They both have been eating sushi since they were two and love their veggies (one friend was always shocked when my daughter would come and steal the pizza veggies off the cutting board).

I haven't even touched on the whole aspect of EATING food! When it comes down to it, we are foodies, lovers of all things food. We don't splurge on fancy clothes or furnishings, we splurge on $500 Michael Mina dinners, visits to wine country and farmer's markets, and memorable holiday/celebratory dinners. I have some fun food allergies, so navigating the industry since I went gluten-free in 2006 and dairy-free in 2012 has been interesting. I'm always impressed with how things have changed in the last ten years.

I am also a baker, a food enthusiast, a zero waste/composting advocate, a whole food eater, and believe that the world would be better off if we all learned how to grow our own food. You can catch me eating gluten-free/dairy-free fare at many local San Diego restaurants, taking Instagram pics of food (because my husband refuses and he kind of has to for his job) at soft openings and the occasional chef collaboration dinner. You can also catch me advocating for my community and as a parent leader advocating for our children's education in San Diego Unified School District, but that's a whole different blog post.


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