Bon Appétit: The Foundation Nurturing Americans' Relationship With Food

Be honest. The aspiring journalist in all of us sees the inherent value of, say, reporting from a crisis region. And the idealistic journalist in us would love to change the world with a powerful, deeply reported story.

But deep down in our heart of hearts, the best journalistic gig we could think of would be writing about delicious food. 

Well, if you're a journalist or writer dabbling in the food industry, you've found your dream sponsor in the New York City-based James Beard Foundation. The grantmaker recently announced its annual awards for its Book, Broadcast, and Journalism categories—and yes, it also hosts an "Invitation to Cook" program, which invites chefs to "perform" at the Beard House by presenting lunches, brunches, workshops, and dinners to foundation members and the public.

Before we get to the winners, first some background on the foundation itself.

The James Beard Foundation's mission is to "celebrate, nurture, and honor America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire." Programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, an annual national food conference, Leadership Awards program, culinary scholarships, and publications.

In addition to maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a "performance space" for visiting chefs (see above), the foundation has created a robust online community, and hosts conferences, tastings, lectures, workshops, and food-related art exhibits in New York City and around the country.

It's no secret that Americans eat poorly, and many grantmakers are working very hard to improve our collective eating habits. The James Beard Foundation wholeheartedly agrees and then goes a step further, with a more holistic and cultural approach to America's transactional and commoditized relationship with food. "Food," according to the foundation, "is economics, politics, entertainment, culture, fashion, family, passion... and nourishment."

And so the foundation's 2016 Book, Broadcast & Journalism Award winners run the full food gamut. Selected journalism awards went to:

  • The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema, for his "America's Best Food Cities" in the Dining and Travel category 
  • Lucky Peach, which won Best Food Blog 
  • Los Angeles Magazine's Lesley Bargar Suter and Bill Esparza in the Food Coverage in General-Interest Publication category 
  • The Associated Press' Martha Mendoza, Margie Mason, and Robin McDowell for their "Seafood From Slaves—An AP Investigation Helps Free Slaves in the 21st Century" in the Food Reporting category.

Check out the full list of winners here.