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A food blogger’s world

FoodBlogging.KMMOver the last couple of years, food media in general has demonstrated its popularity as the niche has grown in cooking shows, magazines and online. Indeed, it continues to be a strong area in which print publications continue to launch, particularly the Edible Communities magazines franchise, which launched Edible Orange County in March and debuts approximately six new magazines per year.

A Vocus Media Researcher noted recently that she had seen a growth in food blogs, primarily among those that focus on home cooking, such as One Fit Foodie or Real Mom Kitchen, both newer additions to the Vocus database. According to FoodChannel.com, farming, diet, exercise, finding our food identity in the kitchen and technology will continue to be food trends in 2011: “The new food simplicity is about putting value on the independent grower, on the person who is striving to make a difference – one farm, one person, one business at a time.”

Last May, inVocus spoke with Diana Jacob, author of “Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir Fiction and More.” In an email, she noted that from cookbooks to blogs, America’s obsession with food has only grown stronger, and the book and movie Julie and Julia had sparked an interest in blogging among food-obsessed women.

There are various reasons behind these food blogger’s ambitions. Some, noted blogger Wendy Gregory Kaho, are people who want to be successful and get a cookbook deal. And then there are those who just really love cooking and writing about it. For Gregory Kaho, it was about awareness. She started Celiacs in the House about two-and-a-half years ago in an effort to inform others about Celiac disease, as well as share gluten-free recipes based around whole food ingredients. Since she began, she believes that the gluten-free blog niche has probably tripled.

For Jennifer Perillo, food editor of Working Mother magazine and a recipe developer for Cuisinart, In Jennie’s Kitchen is a creative outlet for her. “There’s always a story that goes behind how that recipe came to be,” she said.

Meanwhile, Googling “food blogs” brings up an endless list. Although Vocus Media Research doesn’t list them all due to inclusion criteria constraints, they are out there and growing. “Food is kind of a common denominator, everyone loves eating and a lot more people are expressing their love of cooking,” said Perillo.

This love of food blogging is one reason why Casey Benedict teamed up with award-winning nutritionist, cookbook author and teacher Robyn Webb, to hold Eat, Write, Retreat. The weekend-long event, held May 20-22 in Washington, D.C., features speakers from all walks of food media, including food journalists, cookbook authors, new media specialists, photographers and bloggers.

The event will serve to connect other bloggers with one another, help them connect with brands and grow as businesses. “I think it’s more to distinguish and create a niche and really maximize yourself as a food blogger,” said Benedict, who considers herself a food blogger resource as the creator of Kitchen Play, which is devoted to connecting food bloggers with PR pros in the food field through culinary events.

“While I think the real upper echelon food bloggers are having great success across the board, I think it’s hard to always know how to navigate those waters,” she said, noting that’s how they hope to help aid food bloggers at the retreat while maximizing PR connections. “I think it’s still growing in popularity; I don’t think we’ve seen the peak yet of how many people start a food blog,” she said. “The explosion had come in the last year-and-a-half – I think the food blogging community is growing at a rapid pace.”

Now that Gregory Kaho has established her blog, she has started thinking about the business aspect of it, but noted she is having a hard time getting sponsors due to the fact that she only cooks unprocessed foods. Meanwhile, she said many food bloggers are still being faced with advertisers wanting to pay them in product, as opposed to money. “We eat a lot of that stuff, but I think you reach a certain level in blogging and you can’t ask a blogger to be paid only in product anymore, it starts to become insulting,” she said. “So it’s a strange time in blogging, because people are getting to that professional level, but still getting offered a case of cereal.” Gregory Kaho’s experience is a good example of how bloggers still continue to struggle with a perception that they aren’t legitimate members of the media.

However, food blogging remains one of those areas that is still in its infancy, noted Perillo. “It’s one of those areas people are trying to find their footing, trying to find the least expensive ways to do it,” she said. And there’s a long way to go in terms of fairness, equity and pay, she noted. But she definitely thinks there are more food writers joining the ranks as more opportunities, especially online, become available.

“Food is an outlet, and regardless of politics and economy, if you put a really great recipe out there people are going to want to talk about it and are going to want to try it. It’s a universal language,” she said.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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