We pulled into the driveway for the first time in five months, and we found a yard dressed in full regalia—budding pomegranates, blooming sage, plump cacti with new paddles spreading in every direction. And most notably: dozens of fuzzy little peaches on a tree we had planted three summers ago. These are the tree’s very first fruits. I take them as signs of new beginnings.
Great news: I have accepted a Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Fellowship at the University of Colorado at Boulder. What does this mean? I will spend the upcoming academic year in Boulder (BOULDER! hee hee hee. Er, um, right—this is not a vacation, this is serious work) auditing graduate-level courses in food security and environmental issues. By year’s end, I aim to create a global forum linking food and environment journalists with scientists, farmers, fishers, environmentalists, cooks, gardeners and eaters around the world. The goal is to form a database of information and contacts—for anyone and everyone interested—on the health of our planet and the food we eat. I’m thrilled to be among the five journalists selected for this honor. Each of us will design an independent program related to the environment, based on our personal interests and experience.
We’ve all seen huge changes in journalism these past few years, and none of us can predict precisely where we’re headed. These shifts unfortunately coincide with some of the biggest environmental crises Mother Earth has ever seen. Ditto for food—from E. coli outbreaks to depleted rivers to contaminated farmlands to famines and predictions of warfare over access to land and water. The world faces unprecedented crises in food—just as the journalism world faces a crisis in reporting.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I will spend the upcoming year trying to find one—or two or three or four. I thank the Scripps Advisory Board for giving me the time and space and financial freedom to do so.
What does all this mean for Rambling Spoon? I’ll be here, perhaps more than ever. I’ll be adding new elements to this blog, and I’ll continue to write about Food Culture for The Faster Times. In the long term, I hope this fellowship will enhance my opportunities and abilities to report on serious food issues. I love fiddling in the kitchen, trying new spices and scouring foreign cities for favored soup stalls—but all of that takes a back burner to the critical issues I see threatening and affecting our food chain. Don’t worry, you’ll still find recipes and travelogues here. But today’s world also needs a type of journalism that puts food into a bigger context. Let’s just say I’ll be giving Rambling Spoon a sharper edge.