Bipartisan sautéed scallops? Photo illustration by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Last election, I put up a big “Vote Obama” post in light of what I considered to be eight disastrous years of Bush, unnecessary war, and an economy that was going to take well more than four years to fix. I was at first surprised by some of the angry comments I got. A reader named Art wrote, “You’re a consommate [sic] chef. Leave it at that. Keep your friggin’ political opinions to yourself,” followed two minutes later by Joe: “Because you can cook, you can tell me for whom I’m to cast my vote? I don’t think so. Keep it in the kitchen—not the voting booth.”

My response was more or less, “This site is my fucking yard and I can put up whatever sign I want.” And this led to more comments, pro and con, but all in all it developed into a fascinating, useful conversation.

One of the things I love most about this blog is the people who read and comment on it. Passionate discussion—I love it. I never take down comments unless they’re gratuitously harmful. I welcome dissent, even when it’s anonymous (something I very much discourage because it so easily leads to meanness; I understand that some people must remain anonymous for one reason or another, but in this Internet age anonymity encourages snipers).

So I put this question to you, much-beloved readers: Is it justifiable for me, known and read primarily for writing about food, cooking, and the work of the professional kitchen, to voice my opinion on a matter unrelated to food? (Although now that I put it that way, I wonder is there anything unrelated to food?)

UPDATE 11/6/12: AND THE WINNERS ARE!

Thank you all for the comments; as always they are uncommonly thoughtful and that is the biggest generosity of all. I’ve decided to give two books away because I couldn’t decide and it seemed more bipartisan that way. I have no idea who’s winning today’s presidential election, but the following have won a copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty:

A.S. November 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Asking others if it is “Justifiable” is an odd way of thinking about it. You of course have every right to express your non-food opinions here and anywhere else. But you have to realize that by doing so you can alienate some perhaps large proportion of your fans and loyal readers. Is it worth it? We readers can’t answer that; we don’t know how important these issues are to you, nor do we know how important we fans are to you. Maybe you feel so strongly about the issues that it doesn’t matter to you if you alienate half of us. Or maybe you couldn’t care less about the half of your fans that you alienate. Those are balances that you have to weigh – we can’t do it for you. You have the great fortune to be able to have your thoughts read by many thousands of people. The flip side is that you can chase some of those people away – do you care if you do just to tell us who you think we should vote for? It’s not a question we can answer for you.

 Terry Simpson November 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Political opinions, like food, need to be well seasoned. The opinion should provide balance and not be distasteful. The opinion should have texture and depth, and not leave a bitter aftertaste. The opinion should be presented well – so it appeals to the eye. It should not have too much spice, or too much sweetness. It should not be overcooked. Political opinions, like foods, can never appeal to everyone’s taste – but one can respect the care that the author/cook took in preparation and the thoughtfulness of them

 

Honorable Mentions:

Paul Post November 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Freedom

leaming2956 November 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Freedom of speech is a guaranteed right under the Constitution. That certainly includes what you express on your website. Readers are equally free to ignore, agree or disagree with your opinion. As you point out, there is a great deal at stake in this year’s election. So in addition, to your urging us to “pay attention and vote”, I would also add, “stay informed”. Ignorance is a dangerous thing in these complex times.

Mary November 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Your site, your voice. Sure…. But in addition, you graciously share your site and let other voices speak too — guest posts and comments for example. That you choose most often to give voice to matters of food is your fault not a blogosphere rule to be policed. That you occasionally voice matters regarding alcoholic beverages is charming. That you less occasionally give voice to broader issues like writing, travel, and politics… well, you initiated the blog, you spend the time writing the posts, you decide. Is this blog yours? Not entirely since you share it. It is in many ways a co-created site between you, your s.o. (nice photos!), and each of your readers all together. I think you do anticipate us readers on occasion and so we make our way into your thoughts and your prose. But does that mean one person can walk onto the site and dictate that “Only shall food matters be writ about here!”? Well, that is a tad silly. A point which I believe the above scallops make admirably.

end of update: my original post resumes here:

I now think I was wrong four years ago to title the post as I did. No one should tell you who to vote for, or how to live your life. It should be your choice. But you do have to act in order to keep it that way.

I also believe it’s fair for me to express my opinion about political issues, generally—you can read them or not. Importantly, Proposition 37 in California is a no-brainer. Do you want to know what’s in your food? Or do you want big companies who, let’s be honest, don’t really care about your health, to prevent you from knowing what you’re eating? Vote Yes on Prop. 37. It’s not just an important food issue, and it’s not about whether GMOs are good or bad (on which the verdict may be out for decades to come). It’s an issue of our democracy, establishing a transparent food system.

I believe that no matter who wins the presidential election, the economy will get better because America is a growing country, an open, productive society. Therefore, the issues I care about are these. Please stop reading here if all you are interested in is the above sautéed scallops (plenty of oil, high heat, season just before sautéing, goes beautifully with asparagus … or hmm, how about butternut squash?).

I believe that our government needs to encourage and help small businesses innovate and grow (speaking as one myself).

I am for less war (and less money spent on making it).

I am outraged by anyone who believes they can tell any woman what she should do with her body. I don’t even think people should legislate what you eat, let alone decree on more permanent, um, issues. (As a woman near and dear to me put it, tell them they have to pay for the child support and see how they vote.)

I am appalled by the intransigent Republicans in the House of Representatives who have prevented important issues such as the Farm Bill from moving forward. That the Speaker is from Ohio just adds salt to the wound.

Obama has not done all that I’d hoped he’d be able to do, though he said from the beginning he had an 8-year not a 4-year plan. He is not the smooth negotiator Clinton and Reagan were, nor the bully that LBJ was. But, if it matters to anyone, I’m voting for Obama, and am praying that my state of Ohio, which on Wednesday at last returns to “flyover” status, carries him. He’s doing the right things and surely four years of experience as President of the United States will make him better at it than he has been (and he’s done much good—ending a war, cutting taxes for my family and other middle income folks, working toward affordable health care, to name a few small matters).

Romney has shown that he will say just about whatever he has to in order to gain votes, and I simply don’t trust what he says. He hasn’t convinced me that he possesses the wisdom required to lead a country of this size and power. If I owned a Fortune 500 company, or even a company that did $100 million in sales, or if I personally were extremely wealthy, I might be inclined to vote Republican (in which case I, personally, would have to admit to having a corrupt soul). That said, two of my dearest friends are solidly middle class, one of them a small business owner himself, and they will be voting for Romney, Lord knows why. My Boston-based copy-editor Karen notes that her state, which elected Romney governor, will surely trounce him in the election. That means something to me.

Here’s what I will tell readers and feel justifiably content in doing so: pay attention, and vote. And then think about how lucky you are to live in a country where this, along with free speech, is not only allowed but encouraged.

Again, it will be my honor to sign and send a copy of my cookbook Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto to the best comment (pro or con) on whether a food writer should voice non-food-related political opinions the way other non-food people do (e.g., Eastwood and Springsteen, who have just a teensy bit bigger audience than I do).

Why am I giving away a cookbook? Because this I know: the world is better when we cook food for the people we love.

Vote.

Other links you may like:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

 

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244 Wonderful responses to “Vote! (a question to readers
& a free signed Ruhlman’s 20)”

  • Paul Roub

    I think the answer’s straightforward – if you have a strong opinion, and an argument for it, express it. We’re allowed to, here in the US, and it’s ludicrous to waste that privilege. Some will applaud, some will attack, some will ignore you.

    “Stick to writing about (area of obvious expertise)…” is what people say when they don’t have an actual counterargument.

    • Mantonat

      Well said.Most of our founding fathers had actual vocations that they were dedicated to. Nobody was telling them to stop talking about politics and stick to their areas of expertise. In fact, the top two presidential candidates are a lawyer and a venture capitalist. What gives them the right to think they can effectively run a country and a government?

  • Bilbo Douchebaggins

    A food writer is also a citizen, as is a mailman, doctor, pilot, etc. So yes, you have the right (and moral duty?) to express your political opinions as a citizen of your country.

  • Victoria

    Even celebs and famous people should be allowed and encouraged to have opinions about the politics in our country, as long as it is an informed opinion. And they should be allowed to express them, and people and decide if those opinions are enough to turn them off a celebrity’s “brand”. Do I think Ted Nugent is totally off his rocker when it comes to his politics? Hell Yes. Is “Cat Scracth Fever” still a great song? Fuck Yes. Does liking that song mean I approve of every single thing Ted Nugent has ever done or will ever do? No. And it doesn’t have to. He’s still allowed to be his own person. And we’re allowed to like everything about him, or like some things and dislike others.

  • Chris Shores

    There is a time and place for everyone to express their political opinion. If the forum matches the need to express your opinion then it would be acceptable in my mind. Such a place would be Genetically Modified Foods problem in this country.

  • Steven

    I think it’s clear that you have used this space to write about far more than simply things that are kept “in the kitchen.” You are a human being who is expressing an opinion and an endorsement, and, equally important, in no way would I feel degraded by disagreeing. If you were a robot meant to simply give cooking-related information, this would be a different story. I’m not sure what’s wrong with being a human being on a personal blog though. Some of your best writing has been extremely personal and only tangentially related to cooking, such as your posts about your father.

  • Mike Draper

    Write whatever you want, just know that you may lose followers because they don’t want to subscribe to some political BS. Believe me, Reuters and Bloomberg News have already ruined their usefulness as a go-to source for info. Most of their tweets are garbage re-tweets. If I wanted to see Reuters Political tweets I would follow that handle….You smell what I am steppin’ in?

  • chad

    Yes, it is justifiable. Now I will hope that you get too many entries and have to decide by random drawing, and my name is drawn. Long live representative democracy and freedom!

  • Zachery Darnell

    I welcome your point view as I welcome anyone’s informed opinion. I value yours over most because in the role of chef you have been exposed to experiences and people most of us will never have; because of that, I feel that it would be foolish to arbitrarily ignore your opinions. Your political views, like mine, are an amalgamation of experiences. I cannot fathom why anyone would shut out someone with a huge wealth of experience, such as yourself, simply because your views may be different. By posting your views and reasons behind them you are promoting discourse and the dissemination of political ideas which is always a good thing.

  • P Lindsley

    While I value your opinion, and believe you have the right to share it any way you choose, I don’t want to hear your political views. I follow you because you are an expert in food and cooking. I am a fan because of topic specific information, reviews, ideas, and sound culinary judgment. Learning about food, chefs, restaurants, is my hobby. When I follow you, I want to escape news, politics, and religious debates, I want to hear and learn about food. I don’t eat at a chef’s restaurant because he is left or right wing, just like I won’t buy your cookbook because of your political views. I will buy your book because of your food views, recipes, and opinions around restaurants.

  • Douglas Lee

    As a fellow blogger, albeit one with much less experience and skill, I think sharing your beliefs and the reasoning for your vote is a very good thing. I have a football blog, and have received heaps of criticism for writing within it my support for marriage equality and denouncements of racism and bigotry.

    They have not been been random mentions, but rather inspired by football-related news, yet have received the same types of criticism you have.

    When it comes down to it, I would not be mentally able to keep writing everyday if I constrained it to football. That’s the beauty of having your own site, and I find that being myself and allowing my reasoned opinions to shine through is essential to my not burning out.

    Some readers have dramatically announced their departures from the site due to my outspoken support for gay marriage, but I’m more than fine with that. It’s a major civil rights issue, and GMO labeling and women’s rights are just as important.

    There are countless cooking sites, Mr. Ruhlman. I’d imagine that most of us are here because we appreciate your work – we know your books, have seen you on television. You are what you write, especially in a medium such as this; your beliefs inform who you are and how you write. If people are so pissed off that the future of our food system and women’s rights are important to you, then they can always choose not to read your fine work anymore. They can find another cooking site.

    But to not be yourself, to not share your beliefs, that would be a disservice to yourself, to this site, and to your readers.

  • Jacob Wojnar

    One should not openly express an opinion they are not prepared to defend. If you believe strongly enough to burn bridges, take up arms, and end lives, then say what you feel you need to say; be both ready and willing to do every one of those things to defend your point. If you’re not prepared for that, don’t waste your energy. It will only invite conflict from the uninformed, unreasonable, and deliberately argumentative.

  • Matt K

    You should ABSOLUTELY use your blog to write about whatever you want. People are just as welcome to read it or not.

  • Brenda Johnson

    I think “this site is my fucking yard and I can put up whatever sign I want” is a pretty good justification right there, but we can be nicer about this. I think there’s a good argument for why you may have something of an obligation to bring up politics. There are very few political forums where people encounter opinions different from their own. People stay in their own little yards, as it were. Now, it’s true, people come to your yard for the food, but it’s also because they share your viewpoints (broadly speaking) on food issues and respect your opinions in that realm. Though we may differ on political issues, I expect your readers share that much. If you post the occasional political topic, it may result in some of your readers getting a chance to encounter a position they’ve been unlikely to hear elsewhere, and to hear about it from someone they know isn’t crazy, stupid, or part of the Vast Kenyan Conspiracy (unless you are, in which I’m sorry I outed you). And that sort of thing helps us all.

  • lux

    As you said back in 2008 — it’s your website. You’re entitled to put whatever you want on it, and that includes your opinions on the American political process. If people don’t like it, they’re free to go read some other blog.

    And we will definitely be voting YES on Prop 37 here in California!. :)

  • ruth

    I find you offensive.

    I find the fact that you have opinions on things other than food offensive (but only if those opinions are different from my own).

    I find your scallop photo offensive because I am allergic to scallops and I know you’re just taunting me with their delciousness.

    Welcome to the Internet – land of kneejerk reactions where utter jackholery rules the day. Is the writer expressing political opinions on his blog any different than the shop owner who puts a political sign in his store window? No. We all see it and we all have the free will to form our own opinions and decide whether to buy what he’s selling.

    I’m still buying what you’re selling.

  • Alan

    It is true that most people expect things to be within the subject they are looking for: if this is a cooking blog, most people would only expect cooking related posts. However, it is also foolish to expect subjects to be their own little islands: after all, everything is interrelated somehow. And politics with cooking? Genetically Modified Foods, FDA regulations on Health and Safety at restaurants, even Drug and Alcohol policies are inherently close to cooking, so it opens a gateway to talk about larger and larger subjects.
    Not just that, but in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, voting is the least of a citizen’s duty: actually being involved, stating your opinions and defending them (in a clear, concise and controlled manner) is one of the greatest forms of participation in a democracy. After all, it proves that you are not voting for the sake of voting, or avoiding voting because you think the system is broken. It means that you believe that the system either works, or cannot work because people don’t participate.
    And when people don’t participate is when things go downhill.

  • Brian Kelly

    It is nice to find some relief from the non-stop politics in election years by keeping the site focused around food. That said, it’s you’re site and whether or not I agree with you, I 100% support your right to post whatever you want.

    • Sharon

      Yeah, what he said. As a fellow swing state victim, I’ve freaking had it with this election and can’t wait for it to be over. This site is a refuge. That said, a single post about a blogger’s political views isn’t likely to turn me off. Like food, it’s all good in moderation.

  • Patrick

    I think it’s justifiable for anyone to voice their opinions on any topic they want. We live in a society that values free speech. Now, because the outcomes of sharing those opinions might not always be desirable, it might be more beneficial to ask, “Should I voice my opinions on ______?” The answer to that question is a lot more complex, involving too many variables to delve into with 250 words or less, but here’s my brief response.

    1) What is the purpose, in your mind, of your blog? If it’s to share your thoughts, expertise, recipes, and advice with whoever feels like reading it, then I would say you’re in the clear to write whatever you want. If its purpose is also to maintain a high reader base so that people know about your upcoming books and want to buy them, then you might decide that raising issues that are hotly debated by many in your readership is not the best option. That of course also raises the question of what issues are likely to be debated by people following your blog.

    2) Regardless of the purpose of the blog, how much do you feel convicted to stand up for the issues you care about? History is full of people who have stood up to be counted for their cause. Some succeed in swaying opinions; others fall into obscurity or worse. How much does the issue matter to you, and what are you willing to sacrifice for it?

  • Mike Tremoulet

    My wife the photographer and I discuss this often. On the one hand, your blog is fundamentally yours – have at it. On the other hand, your blog is your business and your brand – and your business doesn’t have to take a political side, regardless of whether or not you do. Does it dilute your focus to insert political posts, or pictures of your kids/pets, et cetera? Or is it being authentic and personal? Can’t answer that for you – it’s a choice about how you run your business (and yes, being a writer is running a business).

  • Paul Edson

    For me, your “brand” has never been about food qua food, but rather about food and cooking in the context of life as you/we live it. Because that’s the direction I’m coming from, your politics are a completely appropriate matter for discussion here in your kitchen (or yard, or whatever you choose to call it).

  • Joe Massie

    Your site, you can write about whatever you want. If someone doesn’t want to read about your political views, they don’t have to. Just like they don’t have read a recipes that does not interest them.

  • Marti Kennedy

    If we all stop talking to each other about what we find important, simply because we don’t share the same political philosophy, we will never solve any of this nation’s problems. We used to be a nation that could come to the middle ground to discuss solutions. If people with the forum to do so (like bloggers of all stripes) cannot start these conversations, who can? Who will?

  • Reese M.

    Just like the rest of us, you are more than what you do for a living. If you want this blog to reflect more of who you are as a person, it’s logical to include matters “unrelated to food”.

    There is a clear distinction in my mind between stating one’s beliefs and openly telling people how to vote. Tell me how you feel about any given issue, and why you feel that way. Do not order me to feel the same way.

    Your post four years ago may have skirted the line a bit, notably with the title. But that does not mean you should not share your opinions as you see fit.

    I think that if you feel so inclined, you should have the freedom to state your political positions on whatever issue is important to you. As you said, it is your yard and you absolutely should put up whatever sign you want without getting harassed for it.

  • Aaron

    You absolutely have the right to do so, and I would encourage it. I think with the amazing proliferation of news websites and blogs, 24-hour TV channels, etc. it is so easy for people to only hear from people who share the same views. People really follow you for your knowledge and views on food, but if they happen to hear a dissenting political opinion and it forces them to think about it, that can only be seen as a positive for our national discourse. Your opinion may not change theirs, and they may stop checking your blog as regularly, but it can demonstrate that somebody whose knowledge and skills they respect (albeit in a different field) have an alternate view they may refrain from thinking that everyone who disagrees with them is crazy or anti-American or dangerous, or any of the other phrases that people on the far left and far right like to throw out about their opponents.

  • Joseph Tashash

    Although I am a proponent of individual free speech, I believe that individuals in command of a popular media vehicle must utilize that platform responsibly, regardless of the topic of focus. In an age of rampant voter apathy, individuals are influenced by the musings of pop culture, however misguided this practice may be.

  • Paul C

    There are two types of people ‘Pigs’ and ‘Chickens’. When it comes time to make Bacon and Eggs for breakfast the Pig has a vested interest in getting it right, after all the Chicken can lay another egg tomorrow whereas the Pig has only slab of belly to give.

    If you’re a Pig then it is your right and responsibility (you owe it to yourself!) to speak up when breakfast plans look set to fail.

    Just about everyone living in America has skin in this particular game, so should have equal right to speak to their concerns.

    If other pigs disagree then they should work together ( discuss, argue, compromise ) to steer the breakfast plans in the right direction…

    If a chicken disagrees he can just lay another egg tomorrow.

  • Rick G

    Politics have become more like baking and less like cooking over the past few decades. Baking recipes have specific, solid rules, while cooking allows for more pliability. Neither is better than the other–they have to be that way to make a decent product. In politics, however, pliability has become a disappearing art. Too many in office and in the electorage have opted for the “baking style”–fixed, firm ideas and mindsets. We need more of a “cooking style” to come back–allowing alternate measures and substitutions. As long as your comments allow some pliability and recognition of the wisdom of “other,” then I think it’s fine to make political comments. When those comments appear solid and immovable, then it’s not as welcome. Right now, in politics, there are too many bakers and not enough cooks! weird analogy, but I’m going with it.

  • Debbye

    You’re right! It’s your site and you can post anything you choose. Even though our politics differ I support your right to state your beliefs. If you charged for access to content on this site and I paid to swoon over those scallops then I would definitely complain about political content. As long as the content is free please use your site as you see fit. (I do prefer the food content though!)

  • Seth Clearwater

    Of course it’s justifiable, even encouraged, for you to express your opinion on politics or whatever other non-food issue strikes your fancy. In the modern media landscape, where every little niche has cable networks and blogs devoted to it, we’ve come to see politics as just another over-exposed genre of reality (that is to say, fake) television; we’re comforted by that distance. But like the Jersey Shore or Hoarders, we see Horse-Race Politics as fundamentally disconnected from reality. To so many, cognitive dissonance ensues when a food writer talks politics as much as it would if Snooki or Sean Hannity opined on the correct brine strength for chicken.

    But that comfort masks the truth of the matter: politics, like food, has profound and wide-ranging import to our lives. “Politics,” at its heart, is the matter of citizens and all that concerns them. When we allow ourselves to isolate politics to revenue-hungry media outlets, we forget that those politicians are making decisions that affect our rights, liberties, wallets, and our very lives. We forget how terrifyingly close to us politics really is.

    So when someone like you writes about politics, uncomfortable as it may be for those who have become complacent in their narrow views and blinders, it reminds us that we all have a stake and a say in what our politicians do. These days, that’s a damn good reason right there.

  • tim

    With rare exceptions (e.g. Orson Scott Card) I have long disassociated myself from someone I follow/read and their political opinions. I just don’t care. There are plenty that do and will put forth a lot of emotion into disagreeing with you. But this is your playground and your brand. Manage it as you see fit.

  • Carolyn

    I’m Canadian (yes, I know I can’t win your cookbook… I already have a copy of Twenty and love it!), so my view from north of the 49th is likely different than the majority of people reading your blog. I think it’s great that you’re diving into meatier topics in the days before an election. I fully agree that you have the right to express what you think, just like people have the right to read or not read what you write. Perhaps I’m more tolerant of your views because I agree with them. Not that Canadian elections are without fault and to be modeled, but I am so thankful that I live in a country where the rights of women, gays and other basic human rights are entrenched and not part of the general discourse.

  • Ellen Malloy

    Americans spend a lot of time & energy trying to not talk about the two most important things in all of our lives: politics and religion. As we take a measure of the divisions and anger about this election (and the religious ideas woven into the political discourse), I have to wonder if part of the reason is because we avoid talking about these issues openly.

    That said: maybe a great way for someone like you to approach it in a way that stays true to the topic of your blog is to deal with, specifically, food issues at stake.

    That said, your blog. People can get over themselves and their demands of how they think the world should run.

  • Jason W. Hamner

    I think its *wiser* to go with the old Michael Jordan quote “Republicans buy shoes, too” and leave the politics to political commentators, but I respect writers/bloggers… food or otherwise… who are willing to possibly piss off some percentage of their readership to state a political opinion. A statement of presidential preference every 4 years seems like a complete non-issue to me, but it would get to be more of a consideration as it became more frequent. I think it would be fine if the political thoughts were well thought out and well written, less and less so as they got closer to slogans and talking points.

  • Debbie

    Mr. Ruhlman, You certainly don’t need me to tell you that you’re respected as a subject matter expert in food and cooking. But, you are. Just because food is your area of expertise, other parts of your brain, personality, reasoning ability don’t automatically atrophy.

    If you’re really, really smart at one thing, you’re probably going to be smart about a lot of things. I think you show your intelligence about an abundance of topics. But, even if your political opinions were shriveled and silly, I would still be interested in what you think and why. We should all be more curious and less judgmental. We’d learn more that way.

  • Maureen Sanchez

    I think it depends entirely on how many people you want to either piss off or empassion. Because no matter your opinion, particularly in this election, it will do one of those two things. People follow you because of your amazing ability to talk about food. About life in a kitchen. About passionate chicken-roasting. About what it takes to be a chef. About excellence in Thomas Keller’s kitchens. Do you really want to alienate people who love what you are GREAT at by becoming a pundit for one side or the other in an incredibly acrid political climate? Why would you?

    I think it dilutes what you really good at. You and your wife — she’s got mad, mad photog skills. You’re so sharp-tongued in your writing I can often taste the food. So why get off the rails ?

  • Kathy

    Hell yes, it’s justifiable. Your opinion is just that: your opinion. (Insert old saying about opinions and assholes here.) Any sentient person can distinguish between an opinion and a mandate, and those who can’t aren’t to be reasoned with anyway. It’s your yard, as you say. Put up any damn sign you want!

  • William Frost

    I’m contractually unable to express my opinions on political matters, as someone who works for the US government abroad. Even though I hate getting into political arguments, it often chafes at my soul to have that constraint, even though I agree with it in my own case. Therefore, I can never advocate that others live under it. I’m working for your government to enhance freedom around the world; please, use the freedom you have!

    (This message reflects only my own beliefs, and is not in any way an expression of USG or State Department policy. And yes, I have a US address you can mail stuff to.)

  • Genevieve Keller

    I’ve experienced some of the same type of response from my friends and family on posting political opinions on Facebook. It seems that expressing your opinion has now led to people seeing it as an open invitation to attack not only your political opinions, but all choices/comments you’ve made.

    Personally, I like to know more about each person I either follow or know. Seeing “behind the curtain” as it were, gives me an insight into your life that might also inform me of the reasons behind choices you’ve made in your field of expertise.

  • Maureen Sanchez

    I’ll put it a different way. Lifted straight from my facebook wall this morning:
    just one more day. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can get through the political posts and rhetoric for one.more.day. and not unfriend people over it. i can do it I can DO it! God grant me the serenity to ignore the things I cannot change and the wisdom to accept that we all have the right and obligation to vote for our choice. And the ability to smile in the face of people calling each other names and putting each other in buckets — and offending enormous amounts of people in their political rants by doing so. Amen.

  • Terry Simpson

    Political opinions, like food, need to be well seasoned. The opinion should provide balance and not be distasteful. The opinion should have texture and depth, and not leave a bitter aftertaste. The opinion should be presented well – so it appeals to the eye. It should not have too much spice, or too much sweetness. It should not be overcooked. Political opinions, like foods, can never appeal to everyone’s taste – but one can respect the care that the author/cook took in preparation and the thoughtfulness of them

  • Schlake

    It depends on what this is all about. If it is about cooking/food/the kitchen, then keep posts that aren’t about its subject out. If it is about anything, then post anything. But I think most people, myself included, come here to see stuff about cooking and food and the kitchen. If you have other interests, the technology is simple enough, make another section for discussing them in. It will be extra work on your part, but it is a nice courtesy to extend to people and I think it raises the value of this section by keeping this section narrowly focused on one topic.

  • Steve Cross

    While i disagree with your political stance and who you are voting for it is your right to post whatever you want on your blog. The great thing about the blog that you write is that you do not bombard us with your political stance on every subject, to many blogs end up being a bully pulpit for the owner and become a bore.

    I have learned many things from your blog mainly the great Velvet Tango Room. Being fairly new to Northeast Ohio I have found a great bar to go to in Cleveland. I have also enjoyed the many great blogs that are promoted on your blog, they also have taught my wife and myself new and interesting things to see and do that I would not have been exposed to if I had not read your blog.

    And finally, I believe that anyone who votes has a right to express their feelings in whatever legal way they choose. Keep up the good work, promote good food and drink, and do not let anyone try to dictate that they are right and you are wrong for whoever you vote for on November 6th.

  • Caleb Land

    This problem is a result of status worship and the backlash against status worship in our culture. The media is quick to ask for a sound-bite from celebrity x on whatever the hot button issue of the day is, and then those who disagree with said opinion are quick to dismiss it just because celebrity x said it.

    To be straightforward, just because you are a food expert does not mean you have expertise, discernment, or wisdom in the political realm. However, it also does not mean that your political opinion is invalid. The bottom line: It is my job as the reader to weigh the argument. Is it logical and well-reasoned? Is it truthful and moral, etc? This is your blog, say what you want. we can choose to read it, or ignore it, or remove you from our RSS feed. It is for you to decide if airing your opinion is worth the angry comments and potential lack of readership. If so, go for it (and hopefully mail me that book)!

  • Carri

    Haters are gonna hate. They are just as likely to leave you if you have a food related opinion that they disagree with, so why not help further the cause and get people to think and vote? If we didn’t put ourselves out there we’d be a part of the problem, it’s better to be a part of the solution!

  • Sean

    “Is it justifiable for me, known and read primarily for writing about food, cooking, and the work of the professional kitchen, to voice my opinion on a matter unrelated to food? ”

    It is absolutely justifiable for you, or anyone else, to offer an opinion on any matter you wish. It’s equally justifiable for someone to tell you to pound sand. That’s the very nature of the marketplace of ideas – you can speak your mind without fear of government reprisal, but anyone listening is free to ignore you or speak back.

    I suspect your surprise at the response from four years ago is from a difference between the way you see your blog and the way (at least some of) your readers see your blog. I suspect to you, this forum is a personal and professional space, that while often devoted to food, is not solely devoted to it. For some of your readers, this space is only to be dedicated to your craft, and you are to keep your personal opinions out of it. Fair or unfair, I suspect that’s the reason for the vitriol four years ago.

  • RM

    I think your stance on Prop 37 in California glosses over the issue. Should we know what is in our food? Absolutely. I am completely in favor of increasing the accuracy and amount of information on food labels, but 37 is not the correct way to go about it. It is a measure that intends to demonize GMO foods rather than give better information to the consumer. The vast majority of research on GMOs and health have shown no negative impacts; those few papers that do have been torn apart as junk science by legitimate researchers.

  • thimes

    The first amendment says it all:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Add in a little “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” too.

    If your question is “Is it a good business decision to mix work and politics?”, then I am adamantly opposed. The Supreme Court got Citizen’s United wrong and I can only hope that future legislation corrects that.

    If our education system has failed people to the point where we start taking blog posts (no offense) as factual and influential, while news broadcasts are nothing more than opinions to be discounted, then we are truly in trouble.

    Pass the bourbon please, I need a drink.

  • Ben

    It’s interesting to understand how we can become the ‘THIS’ guy or the ‘THAT’ guy. I remember my amusement at realizing that when I married my wife years ago I became known as ‘Jeanie’s Husband’, not by my name. They knew me just as what was most important to themselves at the moment.

    I know it’s not intentional, but it happens.

    I respect that you can shake it off. You have enough self worth to know that notoriety with food doesn’t define you as a person. It’s just one facet of you.

    Post what you want. I’ll read what I want. See? Didn’t hurt each other in the process.

    Me? I’m still ‘Jeanie’s Husband’ and very proud of it, too. All years’ worth…

  • Jennifer Sanborn

    Mr. Ruhlman- It is your right to say whatever you want to say on your own blog, whether it fits in with “food writing” or not. You are paying to have the space hosted, and you are the only one who will receive any blowback from those who disagree with what you put out here. You are not only a food writer, but a person, and it is good that you remain politically aware of non-food topics.

    That said, I think a food blog and its readers are best suited to discussing political topics that relate to food (and there are oh so many of those, from personal food choices in social situations to national agricultural policy). This is not to say that your opinions outside of food are not important, as they are, but I don’t read your blog for your opinions on the insurance industry, disaster relief, or military spending. It’s not that your opinions aren’t valid, but I would rather read about those subjects from people who spend their lives doing the same level of research that you have put into learning about meat curing, stock making, and ratios in cooking. To simplify, my dentist is a good guy, but I don’t ask him about how to fix my roof. It’s not that I can’t, but that I’d rather discuss my gums with him, and the roof with a carpenter.

    I think that non-food political topics (and the inane comment wars and general discomfort they can cause) might alienate an audience that comes to you for writing on food. While I don’t have to have the same position you do on abortion or border patrols or speed limits in Montana in order to read your thoughts about food, some people do, and seem to think that we must all agree on all topics. I think showing too much of your non-food-related hand might cause more bother than the extra traffic might be worth.

  • Tana Butler

    Simply put: YES, and I want you and Tom Colicchio and others deeply involved in making good food to continue to link food and politics. Wendell Berry said, “Eating is an agricultural act.” Michael Pollan furthered: “And a political one.”

    It is imperative—vital—that your voice be heard above the din of the (pardon this harsh but necessary phrase) brainwashed masses who watch FOX and think it credible. It’s vital that you share your knowledge—of the infrastructure of agriculture, of the man behind the curtain, of the unvarnished truth that a clean environment gives us clean food.

    There will always be ostriches who refuse to connect where our food comes from, what’s in it, and what’s not in it. As one who cares deeply, I want to listen to people like you, who know that real food doesn’t come from Big Ag, or Corporate “Food.”

    Please continue to educate people in connecting those dots. You’re one of the lifeguards in this big pool, in my humble opinion. I appreciate that.

    It’s not about your so-called “celebrity.” It’s about your audience. You have a trustworthy voice. Use it.

  • Mark S. (@_Mark_S)

    If you decide that expressing your opinion is worth whatever hackles are raised by doing so, express it. People who disagree with people regarding politics, religion, sports teams, favorite restaurants typically fight by saying stick to , while they opine off the top of their heads, but you have the same rights to do so as you wish. Not to mention, your views on items of note, whether narrowly defined or not, are valued because they are typically well thought out.

  • GW

    I want my plumber to fix my pipes. He has an absolute right to voice his opinion, but I have an absolute right to not listen and to find another plumber, also food writer. There are plenty of other good cooks.

    Good bye Ruhlman

  • Lynn

    Whether you are a cook or a handyman, your vote counts. Your political opinion counts. Each candidate presents varied opinions on many subject matter. Whoever sits in the oval office will affect all of us. It will most likely affect those in the middle class and lower. I have lived through Martial Law. The greed and need for power affected everyone. Silence only perpetuates the wrong. People like you, who have a following must in some way feel the responsibility to educate the public if not your followers. Sometimes, people need to be reminded that everyone’s opinion does count. To suppress the opinion of another is bullying and simply leads to many negative ideals. Obama may have disappointed many but he took over what can be deemed as a terrible fixer-upper. Opinions count. But one must always study the facts and the “facts” presented before casting one’s opinion. That is one’s responsibility in upholding the freedom of speech.

  • Jane

    Maybe its because this election has been so exhausting if someone I know is expressing their political opinion I just tune it out. So over it. That being said this is your forum and you absolutely have the right to express your opinion. Those who want to read it will and those that do not won’t – like me at this point.
    Let’s get this thing over with so we can all move on and focus on what is really important – living our lives without constant disingenuous attempts to manipulate us with lies, lies and yes more lies (that includes the many despicable people on both sides). Did I mention dishonesty? Now, who is Kim Kardashian voting for – I need to fill out my ballot?

  • Witloof

    Michael, you write with great curiosity, vigor, and intelligence and your opinions, even if I don’t always agree with them, strike me as thoughtful and considered. So why shouldn’t you share your views on the state of the country, especially as they relate to what’s on our plates? Your writing has always held a larger view of the world than just food and cooking. Food has been your medium to express your ideas about how life should be lived in general — thoughtfully, openheartedly, generously, with great attention to detail and an insistence on demanding the best of and for ourselves.

    People who eat well, families who eat good food together every day, are rich, even if they don’t have a lot of material possessions.

    Second rate food fuels a second rate life.

    The people who lead our country have a profound influence on our daily existence, and that certainly includes the food we eat. If our food and water supply wrecked by pollution and fracking, if our USDA is corrupted by lobbyists and we can’t depend on the safety of our food, if our farmland lost to urban sprawl; if we are taxed into poverty and unable to afford first quality food, decent housing, and education for our children, what kind of life can we have, and what kind of world are we leaving behind us?

    Your blog is your place to express your opinions on matters large and small. Let your readers know what you’re thinking. If we don’t agree, at least you have opened our minds to another way to look at the world.

    Obamanos!

  • Carole

    I absolutely think it’s acceptable for you to express your opinions. Our open discussions are part of what makes this country great. Everyone has the ability to educate and inform another person. I believe it was the great musician Sly Stone who said,
    “Stand for the things you know are right.
    It’s the truth that the truth makes them so uptight
    Stand, all the things you want are real
    You have you to complete and there is no deal”

  • Heather

    I think this blog is your backyard and you can write whatever you please on it. That said, while the sum total of all your published writing is not exclusively on food, it is what you are most known for and, almost, exclusively what you write about on this blog. So you might expect a few disappointed readers.

    It sounds to me like the gentlemen you quoted were more disappointed in what your politics are, than that you wrote about politics.

  • Kristina~Former Chef

    Food is a political issue and anyone who doesn’t think so has their head in the sand. You’ve already written about food politics, and this is your blog. If you want to write about presidential politics, local politics, or even something completely off topic, that’s your right. Right now the country is so divided it frightens me. Given what’s going on, especially in your state, it makes sense to write about politics right now. It wouldn’t make sense if suddenly every post was political.
    Write about what you believe in, plain and simple. If you are effective in your explanations, then you may even sway people to your point of view. If not, you may lose readers, but that choice is yours to make.

  • Natasha

    If no one ever talks about anything but his or her assigned niche, how will any discussion, learning or understanding happen?

    It is absolutely vital that we have these conversations, because otherwise we will continue to view politics (and religion and so forth) as a very “us vs them” situation. Without conversations, these problems lead to us considering it justifiable to deny the humanity of those who disagree with us. You can, I’m sure, imagine the cycle that leads to. It seems to me we’re in it now.

    To me, the bigger problem is in a combination of ONLY having these conversations at big times (around presidential elections, for example) and a refusal to actually listen and converse with respect to those who disagree. Of course, the latter is a symptom of the former, I strongly suspect. If we’d have these conversations when emotions are not so high, if we’d refuse to ever allow ourselves to forget the person we are talking to (or about, should it apply) is another human, for all the good and all the evil that encompasses, we might have to learn to engage in civil discourse. That practice might be good for all of us.

    Yes, most people are going to expect you to keep it to food and food-related issues. Yes, your opinion will be weighed more in those realms. No, that doesn’t mean they’re the only realms you may or should speak about.

  • Chris

    Your blog carries no more significance than someone who has a blog as their outlet for their own opinions. Yes you are published and a prominent authority on food. Does that make your opinion any less welcomed? It shouldn’t. This venue you created under your name, under the title of food and cooking but food is something so cultural that it easily spills over into our lives in many different ways. Sitting at a table with family over food discussing politics just happens. Food is not just preparations and recipes but apart of culture itself and your want/need to discuss your personal politics only makes sense to me. I don;t feel you write any of this out of personal promotion or getting something out of it other than stating your heart felt opinion, so whenever you mind or heart is swayed to speak your mind here you should always feel welcome to do so.

  • Patrick

    If you believe you have a duty to influence the political process to improve your community (from your perspective) in a way that does not diminish the influence of others, then it is completely justified. All of us that benefit from or are otherwise affected by politics are burdened with this obligation, if for no other reason than self-interest. For example, you might want to pay lower taxes or know what’s in your food, and either way your interests compel you to jump into the political space to give effect to your desires. Indeed, seen this way it is unjust not to speak out on a political question of importance as you would be letting yourself and your loved ones down. The reason that the critics give – that you should stick to food – unnecessarily confines your liberty, prevents robust debate on issues of importance to everyone, and therefore diminishes us all: liberal and conservative alike.

  • Carly

    Anytime anyone with a remotely-recognizable name says anything remotely controversial, it’s the same stupid response: Stick to cooking/acting/modeling/whatever. I say that if you’ve got a soapbox and/or a megaphone, you earned it. Politics touches everything, including food. People need to understand that when we follow individuals on blogs, on Twitter, or wherever, that those are being run by actual people – they express opinions, they make mistakes, whatever.

    As a fan of you, I’m not entitled to dictate what you do or do not say. My only choice is whether or not to follow. If someone doesn’t like reading your personal views, then they can stick to reading your books if they like. It’s entirely up to you, as someone in the public eye, whether you want to say what’s on your mind or not. For what it’s worth, many people do choose to stay mum on anything interesting or let a PR rep do all of their talking, and those are people I choose not to follow on any sort of social media even if I’m a fan of their work otherwise. You probably do lose some followers by being honest, but you also gain some, and gain a lot of respect from people like me who appreciate it when people put themselves out there and act like flesh and blood human beings.

  • Dru

    say it brother! my blog is asking for people to vote yes on prop 37, can’t see any reason not to vote to have labels for how food is grown!

  • Marsha

    Yes, it’s your blog, and you do, indeed, have a right to post your political views. You have a right to annoy those readers interested only in food topics. You have a right to offend the (apparently – according to the polls) 50% of the population who disagrees with your presidential choice. But don’t complain when you lose them as readers. What you might ask yourself is why you feel compelled to risk your readership and your brand by posting your political views on a food blog. Do you really think you will influence anyone’s decision at this point? Why is it so important to you that you state your political position? To the 50% of the population that agrees with you, you’re preaching to the choir. So what’s the point? To the 50% of the population that disagrees with you, you’re not going to change any minds AND you’re going to piss them off — is that what you want?

  • Josh Nanberg

    This is not a computerized cookbook. Irma Rombauer told us how to sauté scallops decades ago. She even told us how to roast a chicken.

    It’s also not just your back yard.

    What this is–and what any good blog should be–is a community. And it’s a community you’ve created. You invited us here, and we came. We came of our own free will, and we’re free to leave at any time.

    But it’s your community. We’re all here because we respect the way you cook and you write. We admire your passion and we respect your opinion. That’s why I think it’s more than appropriate for you to voice that opinion on whatever matters you see fit.

    Politics and food both evoke emotion. They bring out different emotions, of course, but at the end of the day, who among us hasn’t had as visceral a response to a lovingly-prepared meal as we have had to a campaign commercial or a debate.

    As a writer, you’ve chosen to share your reactions, your emotions and your passions with the rest of us. You do it better than most, which is why we keep coming back.

    Finally, I’ll just say when it comes to voting, people should make their own damn decisions. They should consider whichever sources they may deem worthy of consideration and disregard those they don’t. But nobody should claim that because you’re known for one thing that your opinion on another is invalid or should be silenced.

  • Nancy

    I have mixed feelings. I am, on the one hand, very much in support of free speech. This is your own little home on the web and you should be able to post whatever you want to post. I don’t even care if it is a reasoned opinion, it is your space – do what you want.

    I don’t, however, come here to read political opinion. I am actively avoiding reading political opinion (with the exception of Margaret and Helen) since I know how I’m going to vote and I’m unlikely to change my mind by reading dissenting opinions. I also don’t believe anyone else is likely to change their mind based on my opinions. People, in general, are pretty determined not to change their opinions.

    That said, I also have the remarkable freedom to simply skip political posts. Amazing, isn’t it? Freedom of speech goes hand in glove with freedom to not listen. I don’t have to get angry if I disagree with someone else’s opinion. I don’t have to join a bunch of angry comments.

    So, do as you wish. You certainly don’t need my permission but you have it anyway.

  • Teri

    Do I ask my butcher to diagnose a hairy mole? No, but I listen if he has an opinion about it. Write what you want, I am here for the food, but will read your political opinion and decide on my own. Though I admit I agree with you, so it makes it easier to read.

  • Austin Val

    Yes. You needn’t give up your rights simply because you blog. If people don’t like your political opinions, they can vote with their mouses and stop reading your blog. At least you’re not the Yarn Harlot (www.yarnharlot.ca) who sets off a firestorm every time she uses “vagina” or “nipple” in her knitting blog.

  • kathleen

    How can we have strayed so far from the founding fathers – whose core value was: It’s your frickin’ yard. You therefore have the right to put up whatever sign you want. I’m sure Jefferson – rabid in the expression of his own opinions at every opportunity – probably has some treatise on the subject. That’s why we can still call it a democracy.

  • Andrew

    You can absolutely justify expressing your views, political or otherwise, as you are entitled to employ your platform however you see fit. You may have difficulty convincing readers that your background qualifies you to make political endorsements. If you do so on a frequent enough basis to substantially alter the overall content or theme of your platform, you may lose viewership from those who gravitated here due to their interest in cooking. On a more occasional basis, you may alienate some readers whose views differ from yours if this is something they are particularly opinionated or passionate about. You might gain some more regular viewers too. You inherently justify your expression by knowingly taking on that risk.

  • Dean

    Michael, the language that best responds to your question has already been written. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” You have the right and when you feel strongly, you have the duty, to speak your mind. You’re best known to the public for writing about food, but that is not a fence to limit you. Speak your mind as you wish, and thank you for providing a forum that lets people speak theirs.

  • Trevt777

    I think the question is not whether you should be “allowed” to speak about politics, but rather whether its a good idea. The answer to the first question is obviously, resoundingly, yes. Of course you should speak your mind however you see fit. Especially on your blog, and especially on the internet. What the hell is the internet for if not for stating one’s opinions.

    But in these days of political turmoil and an electorate that appears to be just about evenly divided, you’re bound to contradict half your audience. I come to this website to read about food and cooking, and the craft. Of course it deviates from that sometimes. I hold you in high regard for those subjects.

    I happen to read extensively about political issues, studied political science, and have a career that requires me to pay attention to politics. I have strong feelings about questions of politics, and they differ from yours.

    So, I come here as a break in my day — and somewhat as a break in the insanity of following the election. I’m sure its silly of me, but I guess I view this blog as an escape.

    A community where, regardless of our political stripes, we can discuss and agree (and disagree) on the subject of food. Certainly a republican and a democrat and a libertarian can all agree on great food. Food is, afterall, one of the few things that ties us ALL together regardless of geography or politics.

    Call me an idealist, but food and cooking are pristine, albeit in a perverse sort of way. So when I check in here to find a post about politics, I feel somewhat slighted. I go away with a bad taste in my mouth. I go away thinking how I disagree with you, rather than enjoying the sense of community that a non-political discussion would otherwise be.

    I guess my grandmother said it best — don’t talk about politics or religion at the dinner table. I know its not the same, but in a sense it is. I think this frustration is the source of the, let’s call them inartful, responses you’ve received.

    So should you be allowed to state your opinions on politics — without question yes and I will defend your ability to do so. SHOULD you—on that one I’m not so sure.

  • Lene Johansen

    People are funny when their writers go off topic, and politics is one of those issues EVERYONE has an opinion about. It is your blog, you can do whatever you want with it, but some people are going to take offense. It seems like Internet is permitting people to behave in ways we would not do to each other’s face and get really nasty about it too.

    However, with your brand in mind, if you do want to write about politics and the election, it is so easy to related it back to your field. Baylen Linnekin writes about food policy in Reason every week (f.ex. this http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/27/10-experts-weigh-in-on-federal-food-poli), and no one should take offense if you wrote about the election in terms of food policy issues.

    An to go off topic, or on, depending on how you see it. If we want to stop the federal governments invasion of our food freedom, stopping the perpetual wars, and all the other things we hated about Bush (and about Obama if you are going to be honest about these things) we should all vote Gary Johnson this election cycle.

  • Grant E.

    You are absolutely justified in giving your opinion. As you correctly stated: It is your website, and your choice as to what goes up on it. However, even as we are free to choose our actions and words, we are not free from the consequences our actions and words bring.

    Politics tend to bring out the worst in people, from both sides. When entertainers, businessmen, writers, cooks, doctors, or lawyers take a public stand on politics they invite that ugliness into their office, website, or kitchen. Fair or not, their work or craft is now labeled with a political ideology. If you don’t believe me, think of well known public figure with a with a well know political ideology dissimilar from yours: Are you more or less likely to buy his/her product, eat his/her food, use his/her service?

    I always cringe when people, well known for something other than politics, delve into the political fray. It’s not because I disagree with their views (I’m never one to turn down a passionate discussion), but because for many, it will inevitably water down what that person is well know for. This is the true shame: that someone who has worked hard to perfect their craft/product/service will not get the recognition they deserve from a percentage of their audience simply for their personal beliefs. That’s why I believe, although you are completely justified in voicing your opinion, for your work’s sake, it was unwise.

  • Dennis

    Of course you should post your non-food-related opinions if you want to, and you nailed the reason yourself: your blog, your “yard”, your rules. You clearly understand the unstated premise of freedom of speech, that is, that you’re never free of the consequences of speech, but if the risk of turning off or losing some percentage of your readership is outweighed by the strength of your convictions, it’s your risk to take.

    I personally try not to stop reading people who I disagree with sometimes–because I know I disagree with almost everyone on something, sometime. It’s unfortunate that the internet often seems to divide into echo chambers and shouting matches, but that’s what it is. My biggest concern would be with unruly comment threads, should the trolls seek you out–the internet would probably be much more civil if you could punch someone through it.

  • Nick Pinto

    This is America and you have the right of free speech. People have the right to agree or disagree with you. When you mix your livelihood with your opinion, then you must also be willing to accept the affect of your opinion on your livelihood. This isn’t a dinner party with friends or fringe friends. This is a forum where you cultivate various forms of your income and people trust and/or like you for your specific knowledge and tend to spend money with you. Once you combine livelihood and opinion then you should quietly reap the rewards or suffer the consequences. I myself believe in the one person – one vote system; use it! I personally come here for your expertise and opinion on food and associated items, not for your political thoughts. Hopefully they are far and few in between. By the way, I’ve already purchased Ruhlman’s Twenty a few months back.

  • Joe Santos

    The nature of the platform is what matters most here. This is a personal blog. It’s mostly about food, yes, but you often share other aspects of your life. I would think that most of your readers know by now what they’ve signed up. Now, if you were writing an article for Bon Appetit magazine on charcuterie and you decided to toss in some pro-Obama proselytizing or anti-Romney barbs? In that case your readers would be completely justified in being annoyed. Wrong platform. Wrong audience. Wrong time.

    One caveat? Even though it’s perfectly fine for you, as a blogger, to voice your opinions on politics, you will no doubt turn off and even lose some readers. Be prepared to accept that when it happens. Like it or not, if I found out that your politics were of the reactionary Tea Partier variety my respect for you as an individual would plummet and I’d be a lot less interested in your gustatory rhapsodizing and pro tips from the kitchen.

  • margalit (@margalit)

    You have every right and obligation to share your opinions, regardless of what the subject matter of your blog usually is. Just because food is you livlihood and passion does not mean that your thoughts on other things are not equally important. The fact that you care enough to share your feelings on how our country is governed shows me, a devoted reader, that you are more well-rounded than simply about food. I just wish more people in influential positions outside mere celebrity would be so brave and committed to speak out on the direction our country is heading. As a parent, you are interested in the future your children will occupy. That alone gives you the reason and the right to state your beliefs. Politics matter. It isn’t like your opinions are ill-thought out. It is apparent that you have given great thought to your opinions on our political future. Regardless of the haters who can’t wait to attack anyone with dischordant opinions to their own, this is your blog, your teeny piece of the internet and you get to say what you will here.

    That you choose to share with us your ideas should be applauded and not dissed. I’m a long-time blogger and I have always felt that as long as you aren’t actively threatening someone’s welfare, you get to say what you want on your blog, no matter what the content. Freedom of speech and all that…

    From a Massachusetts voter that hates Romney with every fiber of my being.

  • Victoria

    First, for you to express your opinion is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Second, I am interested in your opinion so am interested in reading it. (And as an Obama supporter, I am happy to hear how you will vote tomorrow – but I would be interested in your opinion whatever it was/is.)

    Third, if I didn’t want to read your opinion, I wouldn’t.

    For me, I have two litmus tests. I’m pro choice and support the right for each person to be able to marry the person he or she wants to marry.

    You Ruhl. (Sorry)

  • Steve

    While I object to/find distasteful people inserting their political beliefs in improper forums (e.g., award shows, non-political topic interviews, the workplace, etc.), I agree in your sentiment that your blog is your damn yard (while at the same time I may not agree with your all your politics). I believe the question of appropriateness turns on forum, Rhulman.com is a “your perspective” blog and you are not reporting news, recounting facts, or performing professional duties. If you can’t be completely honest about your perspective, then your blog loses authenticity.

  • Jen

    Roger Ebert gets the same flack on his blog for daring to post his opinions on non-cinematic matters. It is your blog, and you’re free to write what you will, just as I am free to read it (or not). On one of the other blogs I read, one of the commenters became too vocal (in a verbally abusive way) about the blogger’s “off-topic” post, to which another commenter posted the following awesome response: http://getyourowneffingblog.wordpress.com/

  • ohiofarmgirl

    sure! do whatever you want on your site. i dont care who you vote for or promote ..heck i dont even agree with everything you have so say about food. but i ran right out and got Salumi when it came out..and i’d love to have Twenty. the point is… i’m not sure when everyone decided they all needed consensus. why do we all have to agree? doesnt make sense to me at all. who you are is part of your brand and if it works, then bully for you. me? i stay way from any politico speach – and i’ve been criticized for that, for heavens sakes. you cant make everyone happy. but you can make ME happy by giving me one of your books! i’m even close so the postage will be cheap! vote for me, Ohiofarmgirl, for your give away!

  • Jason

    It’s the magnificence of our country that anyone may voice any opinion. So yes, especially this being your blog, you have every right to post non food related opinions. Having facts and making a good argument always improve a posting. However, the majority of your readers come to the site expecting writing regarding food and cooking. So, it is understandable if a reader is frustrated or disappointed by the post. If one doesn’t want to read what you have to say, do what most people do and don’t read the posting!
    What we should strive for is civil discourse. Hate and anger spewed does nothing to enhance our understanding of differing positions. We are divided partly because we fail, or refuse to try, to understand one another. Politicians can be very divisive but the Americans whom elect them, I believe, share beliefs which are more alike than we realize. We should be able to debate, disagree, and still go out for a dark and stormy afterwards.

  • leaming2956

    Freedom of speech is a guaranteed right under the Constitution. That certainly includes what you express on your website. Readers are equally free to ignore, agree or disagree with your opinion. As you point out, there is a great deal at stake in this year’s election. So in addition, to your urging us to “pay attention and vote”, I would also add, “stay informed”. Ignorance is a dangerous thing in these complex times.

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    Life is a series of inter-related matters. Most off these matters involve the ways in which we all interact. So, a post where you say, as you have done many times, “here is what is important to me” is always appropriate. With respect to elections, you would no more be telling others how to vote than you tell them how to eat when you write about what is important to you in cooking and eating.

    It is you who are taking the risk and it is you who may lose readers/viewers. If you feel making a statement is important, then by all means do it.

  • BCW

    Michael, I believe the title of your blog easily answers your question: “Michael Ruhlman – Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen.”

    You choose not to call it “Michael Ruhlman – On Food and Politics.”

    I imagine readers who choose to read “Charcuterie” or “Salumi” have fair and reasonable expectations regarding the material they will find inside, based on what is communicated via the titles and subtitles of those books. And I suspect your editors and publisher would perhaps have made some changes in how the books were marketed if there were chapters devoted to electoral politics.

    If you do choose to change the blog to “Michael Ruhlman – On Food and Politics”, great. Go for it. I’m sure there are a number of readers who would enjoy hearing more about your views on such things.

    But as a writer, I think it is fundamentally fair and responsible to communicate to your readers a reasonable expectation regarding the content they will encounter.

    • BCW

      One other note. I just noticed that under your photo at the top of the page, it says this:

      “Welcome to Ruhlman.com where I blog about food, cooking, recipes and technique, because the world is better when we cook for ourselves. ”

      Again, it is simply a matter of communicating to readers what they can expect to find in your writing on this blog.

    • Carly

      I think your point is fair, but honestly, if political posts that have nothing explicitly to do with food are as few and far between as they are on this one, then I think a title change would be a bit silly. I won’t begrudge anyone the decision to go off-topic once or twice a decade.

  • Jo

    For a long time I was apathetic about voting and then one day it hit me, my grandmother who had to quit school to help support her family age 12 would so disappointed in me and angry that I did not appreciate the privilege that we have in the USA to vote for the person that we believe will do the best job for our country. Since then I have voted every year, my husband and I spent over an hour going through the propositions school board etc on our lengthy ballot and then drove to the post office to get our early ballots in the mail. I believe in president Obama because we do know him and what he stands for. He may not be perfect but he does his best for our country. And I know what bad shape our country was in under bush, a year before he left office business had slowed I was a securities paralegal and personally witnessed what the banks and investment bankers did. I don’t trust Romney he has no concept of the struggles of the middle class or anyone else. Vote from your heart, vote from your gut, just vote.

  • staceyg

    I was living in Cameroon in 2002, during a presidential election. Many people I spoke with there said they would not bother to vote because, among other kinds of disenfranchisement, the ballot boxes were quite literally stuffed ahead of time for Paul Biya. I tell this story to people in the U.S. who say they won’t bother to vote, hoping that they will realize what a privilege it is. While we could talk about whether our ballot boxes are metaphorically stuffed, given the amount of money it takes to run for the presidency, etc.,, we are lucky to live in a place where we can say what we like and vote as we see fit. I’m glad you’re an intelligent voice in the world. Keep writing whatever you want.

  • J. Garrett

    See, the thing is, we are so inundated with celebrity endorsements, political endorsements, phone endorsements, etc., etc. that when we come to an admired, talented chef’s site, the last thing I want to see is a political endorsement!
    Have you thought about why anyone would care who you vote for?

    Really, your political leaning is no more important than mine, I am just a citizen. If one of my friends ask me who I am voting for I will tell them.
    If you must put your vote out there, maybe put it in another place on your blog. I had to de-twitter another chef who wanted to proclaim his political leanings in a post not even close to an election.

    Let me just say, this applies to both parties. Whether it is my candidate or not.. We come to these blogs to learn about cooking and food. If we want to see something about politics there are a lot of websites for that.
    Sure, this is your website. Do as you please, But you asked for our opinion and this is mine.

  • Mary

    Your site, your voice. Sure…. But in addition, you graciously share your site and let other voices speak too — guest posts and comments for example. That you choose most often to give voice to matters of food is your fault not a blogosphere rule to be policed. That you occasionally voice matters regarding alcoholic beverages is charming. That you less occasionally give voice to broader issues like writing, travel, and politics… well, you initiated the blog, you spend the time writing the posts, you decide. Is this blog yours? Not entirely since you share it. It is in many ways a co-created site between you, your s.o. (nice photos!), and each of your readers all together. I think you do anticipate us readers on occasion and so we make our way into your thoughts and your prose. But does that mean one person can walk onto the site and dictate that “Only shall food matters be writ about here!”? Well, that is a tad silly. A point which I believe the above scallops make admirably.

  • Simona

    I agree with you that everything is related to food in the sense that our choices in the political arena have an impact on food: the Farm Bill and California Prop 37 are two important examples that shows a direct relation, but Medicare, taxation, war, education, etc. have all a strong relation to the food we have available and we eat (or don’t). I think it is laudable that people bring their informed perspective to the debate. It is also important, because those informed perspectives are necessary to balance the screams of the ignorant people who have to resort to scare tactics to impose their message, because frankly they have nothing meaningful to say. So, both the message and the tone of delivery are important, so thank you for contributing to putting the conversation on a civil level.

  • Nina

    Answering without reading responses above, I agree, it is your yard, say what you want. But further, I wish MORE people would do this. Just as my friends on FB and other social media reveal their true passions and personalities through heated political posts, and it gives me pause and causes me to reexamine some of those acquaintances because they believe SO DIFFERENTLY than I do that we are completely incompatible even as casual acquaintances, it’s important. Just as a site like OpenSecrets.org helps me to learn where to throw my financial support and where to guide it away, say, from a big box retailer who does not split their donations equally, but donates the vast, vast majority of them to a party that’s against so many things that are near and dear to me, it helps me make more educated decisions, as a consumer, a friend, a home cook and a mother. Some may see that as making things more divisive, I see it as giving me more info so I can make better choices and support people and institutions I agree with more often than not.

  • Brent

    Michael, I love your perspective on food, which is what keeps me a reader of yours. Given that food is where you’ve gained fame, fortune, and reputation , maybe people expect to see food-centric issues when they choose to visit and get annoyed when they don’t get it. I think there is some validity to this feeling of annoyance or betrayal.

    While I think it’s appropriate to sprinkle personal, political, or even inciting rants into posts about food on a foodie’s blog, to devote entire posts to politics or only tangentially related topics is abusing your audience’s reasons for visiting I think.

  • Savor This

    “We find comfort among those who agree with us—growth among those who don’t” – Frank A. Clark

    It’s easy during this miserable election to hang out where you are cozy or go to the other side to get riled up and angry. Ask most people on the street who they support and they will have an answer. Ask them why or how their candidate will meet those expectations and they resort to sound bites, mumbles and idiotic comments. That’s why I welcome opinions and comments from thinking people, regardless of their vocation or viewpoint. All the better if it is personality you already respect for their ability to research, vet and work to improve some other part of life you believe in. If you don’t share their opinion, you might at least come away a little more informed or challenge them right back. And that is what will really help us move forward.

  • Detroit Leaning

    “THINK! It ain’t illegal yet.” – American hero George Clinton

    Information literacy sounds like an intimidating concept, but it boils down to what we learned well by the end of elementary school (on the playground if not in the classroom): Consider the source!

    Blogs are a great place for discourse, but inherently subjective and advertised as such. Ruhlman isn’t presenting this as a neutral platform even on cooking topics. I love public discussion, I’m interested in opinions I’ve determined to have value (RESPECT AND AGREEMENT ARE NOT SYNONYMOUS!), but at the end of the day…..my vote is MINE. That absolute ownership is one of the great things about being American.

    Respectfully, I don’t give two figs about how Ruhlman thinks I should vote. I’ve never been at a crossroads on a political decision and turned to a blog, my Facebook/Twitter feed, or signs on somebody’s front lawn for direction. These outlets might inspire further research and discussion, but don’t directly influence my vote. I appreciate that Ruhlman lets the comments flow pretty much unedited, but that demonstrates a generosity of his spirit as opposed to him guaranteeing my right to freedom of information.

  • Steve

    I am so very ready for this election season to be over, but I have no problem with you using your own blog to voice opinions on matters unrelated to food. I visit your blog because I find it interesting and the fact that it opens my mind to things I didn’t know previously. The fact that I may not agree with all of your opinions on non-food-related matters is irrelevant. It’s a sad reflection on the state of America when we will only seek out opinions from people or other sources who agree with us – the issue is not so much media bias as confirmation bias.

    Life is much less interesting when we close our minds to genuine discourse, political or otherwise. It’s ridiculous to end friendships merely because others’ views, no less seriously contemplated than our own, differ from ours. Let’s embrace these types of differences that make us great, and always appreciate that we live in a country where we can discuss these differences over a well-crafted cocktail. Or even better, a plate of bacon.

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