With her new publication, Food Fix, award-winning journalist Helena Bottemiller Evich is helping consumers and policy insiders better understand food and agriculture systems in the United States.
Food Fix, released as a newsletter every Tuesday and Friday, covers issues ranging from the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health to the merger of grocery chains Kroger and Albertsons. While Friday editions are free and accessible to all readers, Tuesday’s newsletter covers in-depth content that is available only to paid subscribers.
Formerly the senior food and agriculture reporter for Politico, Evich explains that has always held an interest in the sector. She says that she came of age at a time when the public was increasingly thinking about what they ate. “There was a lot more criticism and attention starting to be paid to the food system,” she tells Food Tank, referencing Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the film “Fast Food Nation.”
Despite the growing interest over the years, Evich says perceptions of food and agriculture policy as a “niche topic” remain. “[It] isn’t, frankly, a real beat in a lot of newsrooms.” But, she continues, “you’re talking about the Farm Bill, which covers everything from rural development to farm subsidies to…nutrition for tens of millions of people, water quality issues, conservation. It gets broad really quickly.”
Evich realized that to continue pursuing her interest in these topics, she needed to branch out to begin her own publication. “If all of the news outlets are not going to wake up and go ‘we need a food policy reporter, I started thinking about what it would look like to do my own thing.”
While Food Fix allows her the freedom she desires, Evich has hope that the journalism industry may be reaching a tipping point when it comes to its prioritization of food systems issues. As the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions led to coverage of the infant formula shortage and the vulnerability of farm workers, readers took a growing interest in how the sector operates.
“I think all of that has very much added to a public consciousness around more of these issues and how they connect,” Evich tells Food Tank. And even though this shift hasn’t yet translated into the establishment of food policy as a beat at more publications, she is seeing outlets make promising changes. The Associated Press, for example, recently brought on Jonel Aleccia to cover food and nutrition. “I think that’s a really positive development,” she says.
Listen to the full conversation with Helena Bottemiller Evich on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear about the importance of framing food and agriculture issues to engage more readers, public perceptions of universal free school meals, and the 2023 Farm Bill.
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Photo courtesy of Harold Mendoza, Unsplash