Are you going to BlogHer Food? I am, but I have an issue. I know that no conference schedule is going to please all the attendees, but I find the lack of any session specifically addressing cooking for families to be a glaring omission.
I want to address two things right up front:
1. This is not about turning every single fricking conference into one that focuses on moms, mommies, mommy blogs or parenting. I repeat, it's not about that.
2. I support BlogHer and my record as having been a BlogHer contributing editor, panelist at 2 past conferences, as well as a member of their ad network (see MOMocrats and Kimchi Mamas) speaks to that.
After I bought my ticket to BlogHer food, I immediately shot a note off to Elisa Camahort Page letting her know that I'd be delighted to be a panelist at BlogHer Food and suggesting some "cooking for families is a radical act" session ideas. I did this for two reasons:
1) I have food blog cred. I've been writing about food and cooking for my family for a good long time. I had a food blog called Family Food that I merged with CityMama several years ago because cooking is so much a part of my life that I didn't want it to be separate anymore. I was also one of the original bloggers on AOL's Slashfood and have a column on Delish.com (one of the top 10 food destinations on the web) that focuses on cooking for families.
2. I honestly thought, given that so many companies want to reach out to parents, that there would be a family-focused session at BlogHer food. There isn't. I didn't expect families/moms/parenting to be the primary focus of the conference at all, but if there was going to be one panel or one break-out session, I felt qualified to be a part of it. I may be biased, but not having even one session? I think the silence is deafening.
As I look over the session schedule I know that the photography track isn't for me. I am not a food stylist and have even moved away from using my DSLR to take photos. (I call it the post DSLR revolution, join me won't you?) I am a busy person with a full-time job. I make it a priority to cook healthy, creative, from-scratch meals for my family every day. I take pictures on the fly and edit them with my iPhone (gasp!) and post as I go because I have no time to spend Photoshopping them to within an inch of their life.
The food in my photos looks just like it does when it hits the dinner table, and seconds after I snap my picture, my 7-year-old takes a forkful and shovels it into her mouth. I know the people who read me are busy, too, so my food blog is about my recipes, my process, and indirectly, my values. Do I want my photos to look somewhat appealing? Yes, of course, but it's not a priority here. My priority is showing other busy people that cooking well doesn't have to be complicated. That truly is my raison d'etre.
The vocation track isn't necessarily for me because having been a blogger, and blog editor/producer for a long ass time--as well as founder of my own social media marketing agency--I feel pretty comfortable with what I am doing. Blogging for me now is back to being mostly a creative (rather than a purely professional) outlet, and I enjoy it that way.
But the values track? Now we're talking. Cooking well for my family is a political act, dammit! Taking my kids to a u-pick farm when we lived in the city so they could see where food comes from is important to me. Pointing out the beautiful gardens of my family and friends, telling them who has bees or chickens? Important to me. Adopting a ewe in the dry season so that a local farm can continue making their organic cheeses? Yes! Also important. Trying to ensure that my girls are exposed to a variety of food experiences? Important. Shopping locally for locally-grown, made, or sourced products? Important. Packing their school lunches in wraps, bottles, canisters, and bentos that create zero waste? Important.
Sharing these kinds of ideas with other parents is also important and it's why I do what I do here. Maybe there is a presumption that parents with food blogs are only writing about chicken nuggets, which boxed macaroni and cheese is best, and how to cut sandwiches into cute shapes. That hasn't been my experience. I have always loved to cook. It is my passion and that passion didn't die out when I had kids. I consider teaching them about what good food is an essential part of raising them. Creating happy food memories, having them help me cook, sharing food stories, is something I strive to do. Just as my parents did for me.
One thing that I have found interesting is that over the past several weeks, food companies have been contacting me to see if I will be at BlogHer Food. They are reaching out to me partly because I am food blogger (among other things), partly because I am a family-purse-string-controlling woman, and partly because I am a mom who is the gatekeeper for what goes into my kids' mouths. Some of these companies are sponsors. As I look over the sponsor list, I know that these are brands that I have used, some more than others, and that parents use, too. They are also brands that are pretty darn mainstream. And yet, no family session.
I think it's wrong to exclude those of us who strive to cook well for our families, and that's all I wanted to share. I am still thrilled to be going to BlogHer food and so look forward to connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. I look forward to sessions and events. I look forward to being part of the first BlogHer Food and seeing where future ones will lead. This is exciting!
I'd love to connect with other parents who believe that feeding their families is a political act, so if you'll be at BlogHer, please let me know. Perhaps we'll have enough to create a lobby session of our own.