Readers weigh in on food interests


Every Saturday, I post a Silly Question of the Day on my Blade Facebook page (

I usually ask about such earth-shattering matters as “What’s your favorite pizza topping?” or whether you prefer mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. It’s fun and frivolous — a conversation starter among friends.

Recently, though, I took the opportunity to conduct an unscientific survey. That day’s question was: “As I plan future food stories, what sorts of topics are you interested in?”

Overwhelmingly, two trends emerged.

The first was that a significant portion of respondents are seeking vegan, vegetarian, and healthful recipes. Contemporary eating styles are lighter, internationally influenced, sourced conscientiously, and full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Although I do, admittedly, celebrate important occasions such National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on the Food page, I also strive to offer recipes with a nod to nutrition. (Even the aforementioned story included a plant-based cookie dough-flavored bite made with oats and cashews). Vegetarian and vegan recipes have been sneaking onto the page already without any fanfare; be on the lookout for them, as they’ll continue to be shared.

The other notable trend was the need for recipes that feed only one or two people. This is a significant issue for many: empty nesters, those who’ve been widowed or divorced, singles by choice, recent graduates on their own for the first time, and those whose significant others travel a lot, among them.

“I have started buying Happy Meals to get the little milk rather than having to pour curdled milk down the drain,” wrote one commenter. Another said, with regard to the difficulty of trying to cook small meals: “I end up eating leftovers forever, or freezing and then still eating leftovers.”

Dinner for One is an established feature on the first Sunday of each month, taking the place of Morsels. But clearly there’s a need for downsized recipes more often than that.

In addition to those two options, one responder requested “easy ideas for packing healthy lunches for kids that they’ll actually eat.” Frankly, I think a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant awaits the person who solves that particular riddle, which is dependent upon the child and, seemingly, upon a fortuitous alignment of the planets. Packing school lunches is equivalent to Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru cadet training exercise, otherwise known as the no-win situation.

Other ideas included meals for those who are sick or bereaved (necessarily requiring logistics, storage, containers, and dietary needs to be factored in), recipes using five or fewer ingredients, culinary tourism, international cuisines, our region’s cultural diversity and food traditions (“a company/church potluck might feature perogies, sausages, shawarma, cobblers, and pound cakes, all together”), butchering, and “suggestions for planning a dinner party menu when every guest is on a different diet. What to serve when Aunt Sally is vegan, Uncle Bob is Paleo, Bryan is gluten free, and Grandpa is diabetic.”

I’ll absolutely keep all of this in mind as I work on stories and am grateful for the input.

And finally, one comment in particular represented an interest group whose needs I can easily and happily meet every single week: “If it's about FOOD, I like it.”

Contact Mary Bilyeu at 419-724-6155 or, and follow her at