eth•i•cu•re•an n. (also adj.) Someone who seeks out tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical — SOLE food, for short.
The Ethicurean was founded in May 2006 by me (Bonnie Powell) and my friends JC Costello, Erika Bodoin aka Omniwhore (who came up with our name), Kathryn aka Corn Maven, and the Butter Bitch and Miss Steak (who prefer to remain anonymous due to their corporate jobs). Since then, several more writers have joined us; we now have contributors in six states. (Meet/contact the Ethicureans.) We have more than 20,000 unique visitors a month, and over 40,000 page views.
What we have in common is that we spend a lot of time thinking about food. Not just about how to prepare it, or how it tastes — although those things are very important to us — but to exploring where and how it was grown and by whom, how it got to our plate, and the less obvious effects of our consuming it. Being an Ethicurean means simply trying to "chew the right thing." Some of the things we write about frequently include:
- News: We publish short summaries or digests of important news stories, features, commentary, and blog posts from U.S. and international sources. We also review relevant books and movies about food politics. (NOTE: multi-item digests are currently on hold due to the Digest editor's exceptionally busy schedule.)
- Food policy: We keep tabs on major legislation in Congress, like the Child Nutrition Act, the multi-billion dollar law that funds and sets rules for school lunches, among other things. We also monitor states' attempts to encourage or inhibit things like raw milk sales – see the category Politics — and changes in federal labeling of practices like "grass fed." While we believe that voting with your fork (and wallet) is an effective way to start reforming your personal food chain, it's going to take changes in national policy to really have an effect. Which is why we'll often call on you to contact your Congressional representatives and let them know you care about a certain topic.
- Food safety: We watch out for major recalls related to E. coli and other bacterial problems, and keep you updated on the hamburger Threat Level. We also track genetically modified foods, and meat and milk from cloned animals, which we believe should be labeled — but isn't.
- Labor: We support a living wage and intelligent immigration policy for farm laborers, meatpackers, and other essential workers in the food chain.
- Cooking: We celebrate it, not treat it like a chore from which packaged, processed foods can "save" us. We regularly feature recipes from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
- Eating: Being an Ethicurean isn't about "shouldn'ts" and "don'ts," but about enjoying as much deliciousness as possible. Some ways to do this: Patronizing farmers markets, where you can ask why some of the mushrooms on offer are organic and others not, and what to do with a rutabaga or green garlic; taking field trips to visit farms and find out firsthand how they grow, raise, or make their food, and under what conditions. We like to eat out, so we offer restaurant reviews that attempt to quantify the guilt-to-goodness ratio of their menus.
- Humor: Food politics can be depressing, given how broken our food system sometimes seems. We believe satire, silly videos, and really bad puns are the best palate cleansers.
We welcome guest posts, new contributors, and questions from readers. We're not preachy…or at least we try not to be. We're aware that not everyone has the time or resources to grow, cook, and eat as much SOLE food as we do. But we think every bite counts.