A few weeks ago, SBS Food featured an article entitled Everyone's a
Critic , a precursory glance at global food blogging. Everyone is a critic
it seems, except Australians. Duncan Markham, who blogs at Syrup and Tang mentions:
"Here, on an Australian food website, is an article that appears completely ignorant of the Australian food-blogging scene. It dwells on many of the international names. It features a mildly interesting interview with an Estonian blogger, yet there's no Australian blogger quoted."
rated a post-publish mention. Paddock to Plate
didn't). It's fairly common for other food writers and editors in Australia to
overlook the Australian food blogging scene as a credible source of food
criticism or recipes. So why do local food blogs hold so little sway over the
local offline media?
It's not as if there is a lack of vigour in the local scene. Here is my list
of the first two hundred Australian food blogs that I could find, most
of which are posting what they eat at least on a monthly basis. As a list, it
is not exhaustive or even definitive â€“ if I've missed you, feel free to leave a
stream of unadulterated invective in the comments.
Or more conveniently, a URL to your blog.
For all the recent hype about blogging being "so
2004 ", compiling the list made me realise the real health and variety
of local food blogs ranging from professionally curated and edited to utterly
shambolic. (My favorite new find is Pictures of everything I eat, if only for the lack of
variety and volume of chips that Steve eats). The sheer diversity puts
the parochial and celebrity-obsessed focus of offline food media in Australia
This is not to say that there is any necessary opposition between writing
for offline and online food media. Apart from me, there are professional food
writers aplenty also blogging about food in Australia. Ed Charles (who
also occasionally contributes to SBS and
regularly at Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper) writes over at his own blog Tomato. The aforementioned
freelancer Duncan Markham writes at Syrup and Tang. Deputy Editor of Sydney
Morning Herald's Sydney mag Stephanie Wood pens her thoughts on food
at The Elegant
Food blogging and writing about food in any other medium are
not mutually exclusive in Australia, however, the relationship remains
combative. For example, in early September, ACP magazines ordered local blogger
Not Quite Nigella take down republished recipes from
Women's Weekly instead of embracing them as a promotional tool for the mag's
cookbooks. You only need to read through the comments to get a feel for the
sort of public relations damage this does to an established magazine.
Part of the issue is that most food bloggers are not in the business of
peddling influence. The very last concern of the average food blogger is how
their work impacts the food industry: their commitment is to their immediate
readers and commenters. That commitment is how bloggers maintain an audience.
With a smallish population like Australia, it is difficult to generate a
critical mass of readers to rally behind you and even more difficult for the
average offline journalist to assess how influential any individual blogger is
without immersing themselves in the field. More generally, Australia is about
five years behind the rest of the world in accepting blogs as a legitimate
source of news.