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In the first grade I wrote my first story, a shameless rip-off of my favorite books, the Serendipity series. If you weren’t a 7-year-old in 1987 or the parent of one, these are short books about amazingly adorable animals, from thick-lashed baby dragons to unicorns who had princesses for best friends. I don’t have a copy of the story anymore, but if I remember correctly, it had a rabbit that had to hide from a hunter. Apparently, I was already into plot development. Luckily for the rabbit (and probably my school psychological profile), the fluffy little guy hopped away unscathed.
Writing has always been in my head since then, even though through the years I suppressed it with desires to be a marine biologist, museum curator, and archaeologist. Finally I caved and moved my major to journalism, but my social anxiety caused me to seize up in terror at the thought of interviews and I, perhaps luckily, fell into editing. After taking a required copyediting course, I got a job at the university paper, and from there got the job I have now.
I think I fell into food much the same way. Living in Austin, where food is grown year-round and new restaurants are popping up every other week, makes it easy for anyone to turn into a food-obessessed freak. Somewhat naturally I turned this knowledge I was uncovering into fodder for the blog, and I was a writer, a food-based journalist, again. It wasn’t what I was expecting – after all, I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month nine times and finished eight of those – but this is where I am. I write about food.
Is that enough? To write about cupcakes and jam and soup? For some it is. And I don’t begrudge that. But I don’t think there is anyone out there who doesn’t know what a cupcake is, and if they don’t, I bet they aren’t reading blogs. Ultimately, I want to use my words for good. To not just craft an essay you sink your teeth into. To bring awareness. To teach about real food. To teach that there are those for whom real food is only a whisper of an option.
Last year I participated in the Capital Area Food Bank’s Blogging for Hunger project and cooked my meals from a typical bag of groceries given out at a food bank. I reflected on the cost of food, the quality of food, and my memories of eating growing up. This year the project is back as part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, and we’re trying to use our words for good. To show that the SNAP program is an integral part of feeding undernourished families in our area and our country.
Strangely, in some parts of the country families can qualify for SNAP simply by signing up for state health insurance. Here in Texas, the application for an additional $16 of SNAP benefits is longer than the application for a handgun. Every day the need for food grows, and yet SNAP benefits are in real danger of having their funding drastically cut.
It’s hard for us, from our perch as food bloggers, to understand what it is like to go without food because it’s more important for our kids to eat. It’s hard for the public to remember that food is needed all year long, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas when we remember the importance of giving.
Today is my 31st birthday. For every comment on this post from today through May 31, I’ll be donating $1 to the Capital Area Food Bank.*
Can you help feed your neighbors by leaving a comment?
Can you help by pledging an amount to donate, yourself?
*Up to $200, which is why I’m asking for you to pledge a little something as well. Together, can we raise $500 by June 1? Visit my donation page here to donate. If you’d like to donate a smaller amount (totally OK!) or use PayPal, let me know in the comments and I’ll e-mail you.
Share this post on Facebook. Tweet it. Mention it to your parents or co-workers. We don’t have to just be foodies who stuff ourselves on elite treats. Together, we can use our words for good.