Just scroll on by: why complaining about food blogs is getting old
We’ve all been there: you’re in search of a great recipe to try out in the kitchen. You type some keywords into Google and click on the most promising-looking link. It’s probably a blog with a name like “buttercups and bourbon” or “the oven whisperer.” You’re all set to read through the ingredients list, but instead you’re met with “growing up in a small town about an hour north of Indianapolis…” Ugh! Bloggers always start with the looooongest stories!!
Yes, they do. Here’s why you need to stop. complaining. about. it.
There are a few things you need to know about food blogs, and I know most people aren’t aware of these things. So hear me out:
1. Blogs are, first and foremost, a creative medium
For many food bloggers, their blog is a source of income. For some, it’s even their primary source of income. But for pretty much everyone, the blog came into existence because the blogger was extremely passionate about their craft. Food is a form of creativity. Writing is a form of creativity. Photography is a form of creativity. Food blogs are born from a desire to create, and like any other creators, bloggers have every right to create however they see fit, in whatever ways are meaningful to them. Every recipe has a story behind it; sometimes the story is “I thought this would be really delicious and here’s why,” sometimes it’s “here’s the event from my childhood that planted the seed for this dish,” and so on. It really shouldn’t surprise you that our food is complex, richly storied, and deeply meaningful to us. Would you waltz into an art gallery and get mad if the artist put up a plaque describing the inspiration for their work? And if so, would you complain about it loudly or would you simply skip over the plaque?
2. They require a ridiculous amount of time, energy, and investment
No, seriously. Do you have any concept of how long it takes to develop a new recipe? How much energy is exerted testing, photographing, and writing (not to mention doing the dishes)? How much money bloggers often have to sink into not just ingredients, but also things like education and photography equipment? And that’s before the blogger tries to do any freelance work to generate income outside their blog—nevermind if they have a regular full-time job they have to work around. For the vast majority of blogs you’d find just by Googling, blogging is not some cute, relaxing activity meant for killing time on weekends. It is at least a serious commitment, and at most it’s no different from running any other small business. So if a blogger wants to talk about what inspired the recipe they worked so damn hard on, again, they have every right to do that.
3. They are free (and run by human beings)
And after all that, the blogger is still providing you with the fruits of their labor completely free of charge. You’re telling me it’s too much to ask that you, in return, just graciously spend 4 seconds scrolling past the story no one’s even forcing you to read? The difference between a recipe giant like King Arthur Baking or NYT Cooking (which you have to pay for, by the way) and a food blog is that those institutions have huge teams and tons of resources available to pump out recipes, whereas food blogs are usually run in their entirety by one person (or, for the really big and successful blogs, a small handful of people). That’s not to discredit or disparage the hard work that those recipe giants do, but rather to point out that a company like King Arthur does not have the same relationship with its products as a food blog and therefore you cannot expect their products to look the same. You chose a food blog over a recipe giant for a reason: theoretically, because you had a sense that something a bit smaller-scale would bring a little something extra—a bit more personality, or attention, or love—to the recipe. Yet you want to separate that from the actual living, breathing human being behind it?
This feels like a good time to mention that any app or website that claims to "get you the recipe without the story” is actually just stealing intellectual property at best and stealing a source of income at worst. Stealing from an individual, especially when you can get that same content for free with .06% more effort, is not the same as illegally downloading a $100 textbook for a required class. It would be more like stealing a loaf of bread from a bakery because there was someone in front of you in line and you didn’t feel like waiting. So if you don’t consider yourself the stealing and plagiarizing type, maybe don’t do that.
According to the Washington Post, "Recipeasly" has been shut down after backlash.
There are some legitimate problems with the food blogger community. Cultural appropriation/food colonialism/whitewashing is a big one. If you want to be mad about something, be mad about that. (Seriously, be mad about that. When you Google an Indian or Ethiopian or Thai recipe, you should not have to dig through a sea of white women to get to a food blogger of color. But that’s an enormous, multilayered can of worms and I am not qualified to open it. Read more here, here, and here).
But stop complaining that the recipe (from the food blog you are visiting voluntary (which is run by a human being who has poured a stupid amount of time, energy, money, and love into the blog (and who is still giving you the recipe for free))) has a long story at the beginning. Just scroll on by.