by Kirby LindsayOn Saturday and Sunday, August 27 & 28, Theo Chocolate factory will welcome the 2nd Annual International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). Presented by Foodista.com, the conference sold out months ago, but their CEO, Barnaby Dorfman, doesn’t want those who missed buying a ticket to feel shut out. “There will be opportunities to virtually experience,” the workshops, demonstrations and samplings, through the website, he reassured.
Three Groups Converge On Three Themes
Based in Seattle, Foodista.com has striven to create an on-line resource for food and cooking. In the process, they’ve encountered a large community of people who write, research and express their passion for food. Last year Foodista.com wanted to give food bloggers a time to gather, but what started as a get together for 50 quickly grew into a sold-out conference for 100, held in West Seattle.
“I feel like we are bringing together three distinct groups,” Dorfman explained about conference attendees. Traditional food bloggers come to blogging, and food, from a passion (or a need – and the IFBC will feature information on gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan diets). Blogs emphasize an individualized approach to food, and the conference gives them community support.
Food journalists, “that have been professional for quite some time,” Dorfman explained, also benefit from the conference. These people write magazine articles, cookbooks and/or reviews in addition to their blogs. The IFBC also engages those in marketing/brand management for products. As they try to connect with consumers, they can use new ways to communicate through technology, ones that continue to evolve rapidly.
The conference also has three distinct themes, Dorfman described - food, writing and technology. Under ‘technology,’ the conference will help attendees learn better use, growing an audience, good digital photography of food subjects, Google tricks, etc. The ‘writing’ aspects include how to write recipes, move from on-line to print (with a magazine editor and publisher on-hand), a workshop on ‘Writing with All Five Senses,” by Kathleen Flinn, etc. This leaves ‘food’ and a whole lot of opportunities to try wines, foods prepared by on-site chef’s and samples of new products.
A Growing Industry
Seattle has a strong food culture. “I don’t think we are unique in this,” Dorfman stated, “but we are leading.” While Foodista.com and the IFBC started here, two-thirds of conference attendees will come from out of town.
Everywhere, interest in food blogging, and the conference, continues to grow. “Think back 10 years ago,” Dorfman suggested, when ‘organic’ produce indicated shriveled up husks tucked in the back of the store, and the urge to buy it on moral grounds rather than preference. Today, organic, local farmers regularly show consumers an incredible variety of produce, and build a hunger for knowledge on what to do with it.
“Food and cooking are at the center of so many parts of our lives,” Dorfman pointed out. Weight (the current obesity problem), allergies, socio-economic, heritage, etc. “all can be connected to, and expressed through, food. There is an unlimited amount of information to be shared and expressed,” he said.
Through an expanded network of Farmer’s Markets, consumers can connect directly with the source of their food – the farmer. Also, “technology gives that direct connection,” Dorfman explained, as food bloggers share information they’ve gathered. Through technology, farmers also hear back from consumers.
A few months ago, the 2010 conference sold out its 250 spaces and, “we’re maxed out on space,” Dorfman admitted, but technology will still distribute the information. Through the Foodista.com IFBC website, view the PowerPoint presentations, audio podcasts of the 2009 conference and, possibly, video of some workshops. Through Twitter, and the food bloggers’ sites, expect to also hear about the conference – and learn more about what we eat, will eat and can hope to eat in the near future.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.