2016: A (writing) year in review.

Globally speaking, I’m beyond ready for 2016 to beat a hasty retreat. Seriously.

Professionally, though, I’m still marveling at what a great year it was. Seriously.

I was fortunate to collaborate with a number of longstanding and new clients, broadening and deepening my portfolio of writing about food and wellness. My work fell evenly into two camps: writing for publication and online marketing content. The subjects were inspiring, the teams fun to work with, the finished projects stuff I’m proud of. A few high points:

A visit to one of my top clients. After working together — closely, on lots and lots of projects — for two years, I traveled to connect in person with my colleagues at the Produce Marketing Association. We’ve worked together to promote dozens of global events for growers/suppliers/retailers in the fresh produce and floral industry. It was so neat to meet the PMA team face-to-face. And 2017 looks to hold even greater collaboration.

Giving life to local food coverage. Call me old-fashioned, but I still love reading the local newspaper over my morning coffee. And my recipe file is full of old clippings from newspapers’ food sections. So when editor Amy Wilson asked if I’d regularly contribute to the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s weekly food coverage, I jumped at the chance. I got to write about the pleasures of eating breakfast for dinner, shared delicious ways to enjoy summer tomatoes, and declared that making your own butter is just about the best thing ever. Coolest encounter of the year: Running into an Enquirer reader, toting my recipe for herb and spice cashews that she’d cut from the paper, as she was buying the nuts at Dean’s Mediterranean Market. Local food — and local media — for the win!

Tackling a new medium: recipe videos. You know those 1-minute recipe videos you see in your Facebook feed all the time? Turns out, those take about 2 hours to film and are a whole lot of fun to create. Working with Curiosity Advertising and their client, The Christ Hospital, we’re rolling out a series of quick recipe videos.

Supporting local food producers, farmers and retailers. Serving as editor of Edible Ohio Valley remains a passion and pleasure, as we get to tell the stories of people who are working hard to bring beautiful, healthful food to our tables here in Cincinnati. One of my favorite stories to write this year was a feature on farmers’ markets and their importance to our community, economy and our collective health.

Here’s hoping you had a productive and fulfilling 2016, and that 2017 will bring you more of the same!

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New work: Untangling the Farm Bill.

Of all the subjects I’ve covered as a journalist, none is more unsexy—or more important—than the 2014 Farm Bill.

Wait: Before your eyes glaze over, hear me out.

The 2014 Farm Bill (which should have actually been the 2012 Farm Bill, but was delayed by all manner of political shenanigans) directly affects what you and I eat every day. It affects how underprivileged folks get access to healthy food, how young people can succeed in farming, how farmers’ markets can grow and reach more customers, how big industrial farms interact with the environment.

While the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law in March, the real work is ongoing, as committees undertake the task of translating legislation into reality. How will rules be implemented and enforced? What will these rules look like on the ground? And consumers (as well as special interest groups) can have a big say in how the Farm Bill goes into practice.

If you’re interested in local food, if you want continued access to farm-fresh food, then you should know what’s going on with the Farm Bill. My recent article in the newest issue of Edible Ohio Valley aims to detangle the confusion.

Speaking gig: Ohio Valley Greenmarket

If you’re at all interested in making sure your food comes from sustainable sources, then you’re probably familiar with Niman Ranch. The company began in the ’70s with a Northern California property that raised beef cattle in a way that was determinedly humane and sustainable, and delivered high-quality meats to a select group of high-end restaurants. In the mid ’90s, the company added pork to its offerings, thanks to a partnership with Paul Willis, a hog farmer in Thornton, Iowa. These days, a network of more than 675 ranches and farms works on contract with Niman Ranch, according to the company’s strict guidelines for humane animal treatment, sustainable agriculture practices and quality product. Paul Willis continues in a leadership role in Niman Ranch while he manages his own hog farm.

On Friday, August 3, I’ll have the pleasure of a conversation with Paul Willis, as he’s the featured speaker at the Ohio Valley Greenmarket. This three-day event is co-sponsored by my friends at Edible Ohio Valley magazine and the Hamilton County Parks Department. I’ll be sharing a question-and-answer discussion with Paul and taking questions from the audience.

Learn more about the Ohio Valley Greenmarket and purchase event tickets here!

Virginia Creeper covers an old barn and silo at Peach Mountain Organics; photo (c) Bryn Mooth