New York's Food Book Fair: Why Food Writing Matters

Food authors, curators agree that food publishing is here to stay

Food Book Fair participants say the food publishing industry is going strong.

Food magazines, food memoirs, food web sites, cookbooks, food art — the resources for food today are seemingly endless. So New York City’s Food Book Fair, happening this coming weekend May 4 to 6, is an obvious source of excitement for those on the food scene — a gathering of food authors, chefs, artists, and curators under one roof.

The Food Book Fair came together through organizer Elizabeth Thacker Jones' desire to expand food studies into the public sphere. Jones, a graduate student at NYU in food studies, says she was exposed to all sorts of books, not just on making food, but on the issues behind food.

"Now is a pretty important time for us to look at the state of our food system," Jones says, noting the dichotomy between the increasing obesity rates in America and the growing number of malnourished populations in the world. "I think everyone is going to experience food studies at some level."

Jones says there is a large diversity of opinion in the food studies realm — understandably, given the array of panelists at the Food Book Fair. From authors like Tamar Adler (An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace) to food publishers like Ed Behr (The Art of Eating) to food professors like Marion Nestle (Food Politics, Why Calories Count) to performance artists like Jennifer Rubell, the fair's participants offer panels on food as it relates to design, culture, art, media, even pornography. Not to mention the overwhelming number of books featured at the fair — more than 100 books.

Adler says she’s excited to hear from other people that are writing about food and cooking right now. Most of the cookbook authors she follows, she says, aren’t alive anymore. "It will be cool to meet ones that are [alive], that are shaping the food sphere," she says.