This, then, is not a manifesto. I had a food blog and podcast called No Satiation for several years. It started with a manifesto. Every year or so I had to rewrite the manifesto because I learned so much that it made my manifesto sound at best obsolete and at worst ignorant. I proclaimed that food and restaurant reviews often sounded twee and recipes were irrelevant. I argued that the conversations we were having about food were superficial. I raged about the word “foodie.” I set up a store and sold T-shirts. I was pretty arrogant for a dilettante.
During the next several years I got into food studies by way of a Ph.D. in English with a specialization in rhetoric and digital literacies. The blog/podcast was my laboratory for tinkering with new technologies while engaging with the social and cultural aspects of food. I learned about conversations in food studies that had been going on for decades across a variety of disciplines, organizations, institutions, and politically entities. I ended the blog and podcast after I got my degree–five years to the day after I started it–because it started to seem like a catalog of my own ignorance. That said, I learned a lot, so maybe it did its job.
Now I’m starting a new project. But I’m doing so without a manifesto. Things will manifest themselves. Curiously, and perhaps confusingly, this project is under the domain “writinglab.org.” In some universities, writing labs are places where people go to get help with the writing process. This might be especially confusing because I have worked in those writing labs before. This domain has nothing to do with any official or unofficial writing lab, but it does grow out of my work in a digitally oriented lab where we are always experimenting with new technologies for writing in multiple modalities. This is as much a studio or practice space as it is a lab.
I won’t proclaim anything grand here at the outset, but I will practice multimodal writing somewhere near the realm of food studies. Specifically, I’m interested in the way that food moves us socially and emotionally. I’m interested in food policy and the political aspects of food. I’m interested in the ways that food and communication travel together along digital and geographical paths. I’m interested in the nested and intersecting ecologies that feed on one another. So that’s what I’ll be exploring here. I’m not sure why you are here, but if you are interested in these kinds of things, we might get along.