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Food Bloggers Infiltrate Science Writing

I always pride myself on noting when iconic culture change happens, and there was a significant merging of food blogging and science writing this week. A recipe for a pesto-like cilantro-based sauce/paste was published in an article, NATURE | NEWS: Soapy taste of coriander linked to genetic variants on Nature.com.

Nature is the online identity of the interdisciplinary science journal by the same name, one of the very top science journals in the world, that has been around since November 1869. Nature doesn't do recipes. Recipes for science experiments, yes, (called methodology sections) but not for food. But it did. There are many ways to discuss the reason behind that a small but significant portion of the population thinks cilantro or coriander tastes like soap and will not eat it. Julia Child was one of these people and the article brings both her reaction to cilantro and a recipe that uses a preparation technique, crushing the cilantro, that helps reduce the soapy taste of cilantro.

By the way the recipe ingredients are:

1/2 cup [c. 75g] toasted almonds

3 cups coriander leaves and tender stems (about 2 bunches)

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup [120ml] extra virgin olive oil

2/3 [c. 70g] cup grated aged sheep’s milk cheese like Nisa, Serpa or pecorino-Toscano

Serve right away with pasta, grilled meats, vegetables or soups, or freeze.

This recipe inclusion doesn't mean that science is dumbing itself down. But just as with journalistic reporting, scientific reporting, for the masses, is in flux as people search for information via mobile and digital platforms that deliver infomation up without the visual and tactile cues that once distinguished scientific journals from lifestyle magazines.

This doesn't mean that the online version of Nature will deliver begin delivering recipes and decorating tips. But it doesn't mean that it isn't considering something along those lines either. When people search for information, there is usually a question that motivates that search. Many bloggers know this and form their individual posts around an answer to a question.

Search is less skilled than it once was. Perhaps you remember the days when you were in school and you actually had to go into a library and use print copies of a general index such as The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature to find basic information, or perhaps you remember searching on computer stations that had CDs or online access to basic informational databases such as InfoTrac. On a different table, station,or CD kiosk in that same library were indexes that were far more specialized. Those sorts of distinctions still exist, but your searches are apt to be done outside of a library without the guidance of someone with training on how to find information. Most likely you do a Google search. There is a chance that you could land on the site of Nature, The New York Times, or a Food Blog partially dependant on how your search has been personalized by Google.

So what does this all mean? It means that purveyors of informtion of all types are competing with advertisers and publishers outside of their traditional competitors to have your eyeballs land on their pages and use their presentation of the information for which you search. Different formulas and methods for presenting that information will be tried by publishers.

If you are looking for food science information to answer the question, “Why does my kid think my homemade salsa tastes like soap?” you may want a more technical article that talks about aldeheides in food. The pool of individual writers and publishers, aka bloggers, has changed the information that is available to people with questions. The old school publishers, even in science, have noticed this and are changing how they frame their information. Never doubt the power of women, and men, writers.

 

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2 Comments

  1. ” The pool of individual writers and publishers, aka bloggers, has changed the information that is available to people with questions.” I found this quote to be true quite recently when reading all the 9-11 accounts. Each person varied view, experience and level of authority made it possible for them to process the event differently such that the event was reported in a non-typical fashion. Don’t you think?

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