Climate change is an overwhelming, global problem, but many New Englanders are looking for ways they can combat it here, where they live. And there is something we do every day that can move the needle: we eat. In response to audience feedback, WBUR developed “Cooked: the search for sustainable eats”, which launched on May 10, 2022. The three-week automated newsletter course aims to be a public service that not only helps readers better understand the New England food system, but also gives them real steps to reduce their “foodprint” and become community leaders.
What started as a newsletter evolved into one of WBUR’s biggest cross-platform projects to date. We leveraged the entire WBUR newsroom, using the newsletter as a framework for the original reporting (text, audio and visuals) and created additional digital and event content to amplify the material and cross-promote it to different audiences. In addition, we curated other local sustainability content from the New England News Collaborative.
WBUR’s editorial team hired students from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition to help with the research that shaped our emails. In addition, the team fostered partnerships with several local, respected organizations, including Edible Boston, Boston Magazine, and Boston University’s CSA program to expand the project’s reach. We also co-produced an event about growing your own food with Grist’s solutions lab, Fix. In order to achieve the project’s maximum potential, we are leveraging Cooked’s evergreen content and flexible, innovative format to continue to grow the subscriber list.
We are also ensuring voices from many communities are represented in our storytelling, especially when it comes to topics like food production that are often dominated by wealthy, white voices. The newsletter team approached the project and reporting with an equity and diversity lens, grounding this as a social justice issue as well. The team then worked to promote the newsletter at various community gardens, farms and food access organizations to make sure anyone interested in this topic would know about it.