Last year when I was brainstorming ideas with the editor of So Healthy for their regularly occurring food feature, I mentioned that I was getting tired of reading (and writing) about “duty food” — the foods you know you should be eating because of their nutritional value, but … well, let’s put it this way: At no point in my 40-plus years have I ever thought, “You know what sounds really good tonight? Farro and figs.” (And yet it exists as a dish that people even order in restaurants.) “Just once, I’d like to be able to write about foods that people want to eat, instead of foods they should eat,” I said. “What if I explored some that are both?”
And for this assignment, I got to. (Click on either page below to bring it up, full size, in a new window.)
There are always little things that make you happy as a writer when you get to see them actually make the finished article. The format of these blurbs can be limiting — subhead with name of food, deck with brief descriptor, XX number of words — but everything was forgiven when I saw that the “Keep things moving” deck for figs actually made it through the client vetting process.
My original lead didn’t, though. (And on closer examination, neither did my original headline: “Star Fruits.”) I suspect the lead might have deemed a little harsh for a piece that’s supposed to be about the joys of eating, but I thought that working in “duty-free” in another context was clever:
Which sounds better right now—apple slices, or celery sticks?
The problem is, celery sounds better for us—we need fiber, right? So we gnaw on ribs of celery, grimly congratulating ourselves for sticking to a “duty food”—something we think we should eat—instead of a delicious food that we’d prefer.
It’s time to start shopping duty-free! Fruits may have more natural sugars than most vegetables, but they’re also bursting with nutritional benefits that make them wise food choices. Just wait till you learn about apples. …
When I saw the new lead, I thought, “How could they not appreciate what I wrote? That is absurd.” This is why it’s sometimes not a good idea to read your articles after they’re printed; you only have eyes for what got changed, and not everything else that survived intact. But as long as the check clears, usually that’s enough to keep me happy.
|WHAT SAM WORE: 2-23-12|
|The shirt: Long-sleeved camouflage-print waffle-weave T-shirt from Old Navy.|
|The pants: Jeans by 7 for All Mankind, from Nordstrom in Chandler.|
|The shoes: Sneakers by Skechers, from Last Chance.|