business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kate McMahon

Content Guy’s Note: Kate’s BlogBeat is a new ingredient in the MorningNewsBeat stew – a regular look at what people are talking about on the Internet, and how it impacts the conduct of business by retailers and manufacturers.

There is no time like the present to pull up a chair, log on, and join the culinary conversation at the cyber-kitchen table. Okay, make that the tens-of-thousands of conversations/recipe swaps/dining dialogues currently being carried on in the ever-expanding food blogosphere.

It isn’t just a nice-to-do. In fact, it can be a critical component in any store’s marketing and merchandising efforts, because it offers a unique view of what customers are doing and what they are thinking.

As noted in last week’s column, food blogs are growing in number and clout on the Internet, replete with advertisers and Twitter accounts. Single blogs have spawned “food communities,” food blog conventions, multiple books and television careers, and of course, the blog-turned-book-turned movie, “Julie & Julia.”

This facet of social networking is like an open pantry and a seat at the table. And if you are a retailer, manufacturer, marketer or service provider catering to people who shop, cook and dine, these blogs reveal what people want now and in the future (keyword: healthy). Think of it as a free focus group at your fingertips.

For example, paying attention to the blogs tells us that consumers everywhere are trying to be both environmentally pro-active and fiscally cautious during tough economic times – which often seem to be at odds. Cut to the blog and you will find a wealth of insight into how to balance the two. What are eco-conscious new parents buying or looking to purchase? Click on and you’ll find out.

Similarly, if you’re trying to understand the gluten-free community and what is top of mind for people with that condition, turn to, where the Crispy Cook blogs and earlier this year shared a list of her 101 favorite gluten free blogs.

Mothers are hyper-active bloggers, and a recent posting from Sunshine Mom on says it all. Alarmed by the amount of high fructose corn syrup in pre-packaged granola bars, she came up with her own healthy recipe to pack in her daughters’ back-to-school lunch boxes. Her followers were delighted.

To find a blog that interests you or your company, or for specialties such as vegan or heart-healthy postings, check out the food communities, which include: (10,029 food blogs and counting);, a huge compendium; (5,253 blogs); (an “independent grassroots community”);; and the various blogs found on;; and

Whatever the stated subject matter, passion is the key ingredient in the most successful blogs. Several authors refer to it as their “obsession” with food, and their insatiable desire to share recipes, thoughts, advice and photos with like-minded food enthusiasts.

There are a handful of blogs that turn up on every “best of” list, and with good reason. Readers are on a first name only with Pim of, a young San Francisco woman who shares her adventures in the kitchen and globetrotting travels. Heidi Swanson’s is her “recipe journal” from her cookbooks, travels and other musings on “natural” cooking. Author/pastry chef David Lebovitz writes of “the sweet life in Paris” in, and sweet it is. Another fave from Paris is by 30-year-old Clotilde Dusoulier. New Yorker Luisa Weiss started in 2005 by clipping and testing recipes from the New York Times and L.A. Times mid-week food sections. Meanwhile, from food-savvy Seattle, Molly Wizenberg’s has since 2004 charted her blogging career, book, marriage to a fellow foodie and the opening of their first restaurant last month.

A dash or two of humor have elevated the profiles of other blogs, notably by Matt Armendariz and by Adam Roberts. An award-winner guaranteed to give you a chuckle is – “when professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong.”

The MNB community also alerted me to readable blogs with recipes that any one of us might cook for the family, among them;; and

This column will continue to follow developments in the food blog world, giving MNB readers a reserved seat at the cyber-kitchen table.

(BTW: Thanks for all the suggestions on wine blogs and dining out/travel blogs, which will be featured in future columns. And check out these blogs written by MNB followers or their children:;; and

You can reach Kate McMahon via email at .
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