Grease Trap: Local Food Coverage Takes Another Hit

How deeply should your daily paper’s food section be rooted in your local neighborhood? Since Denver-based MediaNews Group scooped up most of the Bay’s dailies, it’s a question that’s become critical for dedicated food-page fans in the East Bay. Take Laurel Miller’s “Fork in the Road” column in today’s CoCo Times (it also appears in the Oakland Trib.)

Miller’s a talented food writer and cooking teacher with years of column clips from ANG’s publication stable. She deserves big props — Miller was writing about local growers long before it was a food section clich�. In October, Miller packed up her Berkeley kitchen and moved to Boulder; now she’s focusing on travel writing with a heavy food component — like today’s piece, an account of the free chow on a journalist junket to Australia’s Kangaroo Island. An intro says “Fork in the Road” will appear every month in the Times, an announcement with a bittersweet flavor: Miller writes good copy, but giving over page three to yet another writer who’s not focusing on food in the paper’s readership area feels like another step toward complete homogenization of local coverage. Given Times food editor Nicholas Boer’s serious budget constraints (and sure, Times food has always gone heavily to the wire to fill its pages), it’s definitely bad news for aspiring food writers hoping to get a toehold at some local daily.

Chron Abalone Story Gives Half the Picture

Olivia Wu’s Chron feature on Bay Area abalone aquaculture is interesting — as far as it goes. Abalone’s the delectable Pacific-coast mollusk that’s been decimated through overfishing — it was banned commercially ten years ago. Though it’d be hard to get anyone to talk, the story we’d really like to read is about the culture of abalone poaching. Believe us — after years spent in Bay Area restaurant kitchens, we know there’s a network of shady divers wiling to do business. But yeah, they’re twitchy as meth dealers.

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