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.

 

Share

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

  • Anne B.

    Hell yes….express!!! Food is integral to all parts of life and life is integral to all parts of food…..only a fool or a coward attempts to compartmentalize. L’Chaim!!!

  • David

    The notion that you cannot offer your opinion on subjects outside of your primary area of expertise is fundamentally at odds with principles on which this country was founded. Our forefathers understood that there is no marketplace more important than the “marketplace of ideas,” in which the truth emerges from competition of ideas in free and public discourse. The great failure of the current political discussion is that far too many people prefer to stay within an “echo chamber” in which their ideas and beliefs are never challenged.

    As someone who primarily writes about food rather than politics, you have readers that cross political boundaries. As a result, when you post about politics — whatever your position is — you are challenging the worldview of many people who do not regularly subject themselves to such challenges. That, in and of itself, makes voicing your opinion worthwhile. And like your food writing, you have chosen to do so in a thoughtful manner, which makes the exercise all the more constructive.

    People don’t have to buy what you are selling. But to criticize you for for participating in the “marketplace” is inherently un-American.

  • Rob Levitt

    This is your blog, but what is it’s function? Of course you can say whatever you want here, but did you set this site up to talk politics? Did you set it up to discuss anything besides food? Do you often post about non-food topics? The question to ask isn’t should you discuss politics on your blog, it’s why do people come to this site? You said it yourself in your post, at both events we did together and no doubt, in countless other public and private settings, “The world is a better when we cook food for the people we love.” Or sometimes you say, “Cooking is what makes us human.” THese sentiments speak to the core of why I come to this blog. To read about food. To learn about techniques or customs I’m unfamiliar with or to gain insights, new perspectives on things already relevant to what I do. This is where I take a break from my day to day. This is where I turn when I’m researching a recipe or technique. This is where I look when I just want a good quick read. I never knew of Cleveland’s West Side Market. Now I do, and really want to visit. I fell like in this election more than any other I am being bombarded with political rhetoric. On Facebook and Twitter, people are putting their opinions out there and that is their right, but I find myself constantly unfriending people not because they are in favor of the wrong guy, but because the constant bashing is making me like them less as a person. Social media is supposed to be just that- social. Your blog is a respite. Somewhere online I can go to cheer up when my computer is constantly throwing politics at me. To come here and have to talk politics (prop 37 is different- it is food related, as is foie gras ban discussions) takes that away form me. Food should bring joy. It should bring people together regardless of political beliefs. The table is the one place we should put all that aside and just be a community, actual or virtual.

    • Dan

      Is there anything more community than sharing opinions? The presidency is to be decided but let’s discuss the best way to season fish shall we?

  • Arlene

    I think your original post as well as this new one are both on target. As you say, this is a great country in which you can be anything you want. In this case you are a chef, food blogger, author, and great friend to others (including your faithful readers) in the food community. We VOLUNTARILY look to you for your opinion on food, farming, etc. It would be hypocritical of us to tell you to limit your opinions and leave politics out of your blog. It IS your backyard – go for it.

  • Adam J

    Justifiable? Absolutely. Why? Within this post (on your blog, that you pay for) you outline exactly why you feel the way you do with the same thought and commentary you offer your food writing. That sort of thought changes an endorsement to a discussion that will serve anyone with an open mind. I suspect that many people read subject specific blogs because they don’t want to read about politics, sports, religion, food, fashion etc. but anger and bossiness isn’t appropriate. Frequent political discussion would likely change the way people view the blog, something I imagine you’re keenly aware of. Your “lawn” doesn’t have any fences or require payment for admission; all are welcome to leave if they don’t like the signage. If you were to completely re-zone your “lawn” into a “political headquarters” from a “restaurant” it would, in my opinion, be a shame but you’d have to justify it only to yourself.

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    Most recently someone said to me: there are two kinds of people in this world wherever you live: Good People and Bad People and the only thing that turns Good People into Bad People is Politics.

    • Nancy

      I would add a third: Good People Who Stand By And Do Nothing. Though I guess if the “good” and “bad” designation is based on one’s impact on the world, that would make them Bad People after all.

      I stand corrected.

  • Mike

    Mark –

    I think it’s very simple. You should say what you want to say; your readers can say what they want in response.

    I live in Northern California. Four years ago, I was the campaign manager for McCain in my county. I had countless yard signs stolen, trash thrown on my yard, and passersby yell obscenities at my wife as she loaded our children into her car.

    I’ve since moved to a new neighborhood. This year, I decided not to put out any yard signs – even for a friend who’s running a quite competitive race as a conservative-leaning independent. It wasn’t worth it to suffer through the hostility again.

    I do share my political beliefs with my friends – most of whom are Democrats by virtue of where I live. They like me personally, so they listen respectfully to what I have to say, and they offer their own opinions. Sometimes the discussion gets more heated than it should; sometimes we don’t talk about certain topics that could lead to an unpleasant argument. So we’re respectful and polite, I’d say.

    For now, I prefer keeping my political conversations to my private acquaintances. I assume at some point in the future, I’ll get back to more public involvement.

    For you, if you’re willing to accept the (probably often ugly) response, you should talk about whatever you’d like. If you don’t want the response, you should stick to the food.

    • Nancy

      It’s frightening how quickly self-righteousness becomes thuggery. I’m sorry you and your family were subject to it and sickened that you felt you couldn’t openly support your friend because of it.

      Dialogue—real, honest dialogue, not just sound bite-slinging and regurgitation of party lines—is sorely needed in a world where we’re more isolated and divided than ever, filtering out opposing views with a click. I may not agree with you (or Ruhlman for that matter: I’m currently of the opinion that anyone who seeks power is not to be trusted with it), but I’ll certainly defend your right to speak your mind. Even more so if you listen more than you speak… which Ruhlman does here (in his yard) pretty damn consistently.

      Whatever our opinions may be, the more of us who thoughtfully and respectfully speak out in the face of apathy, ignorance and intimidation, the less apathy, ignorance and intimidation there will be. In my opinion.

  • Brian B

    It’s a very fine you are looking to tread. I would never say anyone should not be able to express their opinions, views or thoughts, however are you using your position and fame to influence others opinions, views or thoughts? When someone votes for a particular candidate not because of what they believe about the guy but rather because some actor or singer stood up and said “I voted for this guy and you want to be like me right” I take issue. While it is more a reflection on the individual being unable to think for themselves I think anyone with a relative amount of fame and/or a platform needs to understand this and be responsible with it. I think celebrity activism is just one of many things wrong with this country’s political system. I’d much rather see celebrities and athletes encourage people more to get out and make up their own minds instead of encouraging a vote one way or the other. In the end, you are free to and encouraged to share your views as much as I am, I just hope that no one reading your blog uses it as a sole source of information.

  • Stephen Falko

    Of course you are justified to voice your opinion on any topics you wish. As you say this is “your yard”. And it is healthy to spend at some time listening to conflicting opinions. Of course I am just as justified in ignoring your opinion, or in granting it as much or as little weight as I deem appropriate.

    The rare time I disagree with something you have written about food, I carefully examine my previous view. You are very much an expert in this area, and I respect your opinions. So you might well change mine, and sometimes have.

    For over two decades I have worked with alternative propulsion vehicles (electric, hybrid, and fuel cell). If you were to opine in my area of expertise and I completely disagreed with you I wouldn’t give it a second thought. It is quite unlikely that someone without in depth experience is going to hold a contrary viewpoint that is both based on sound facts and conflicts with what I know to be true.

    The beauty of the internet is that I am responsible for which sites I visit and I can easily stop spending my time at a site that no longer holds my interest. As long as this site is primarily about food, I will enjoy the occasional off topic commentary, by someone whose opinions I admire, about almost any subject. Even when I believe you are wrong.

  • Lyndsey

    Since this is your blog, I think you are free to write whatever you want to write about. That’s the whole point of our political system – to preserve your rights. Different parties just have different beliefs on how to preserve those rights. Not everyone is going to agree with what you write – be it on who to vote for or even how to cook something. Our duty is not to make everyone happy, but to learn to live in harmony despite our differences. Will you lose some readers, probably. But hopefully you will keep/gain those who are mature enough to respect others for their differences and opinions. The freedom to do that is what makes our country so great.

  • Zachary Reiss-Davis

    As many others have said, it’s your blog, write about whatever you want. But keep in mind, your audience “pays” (in time, inclination to purchase books, and advertising eyeballs) to hear your opinion about food. Only you can answer if providing a “product” (blog post) that’s not what your audience expects is worth it.

    I want to ask for a bit more information about Prop 37 though, which is clearly in your wheelhouse. While I 100% agree that food labeling is important, and that big-agra causes lots of problems, I haven’t been convinced that Prop 37 will be a valid solution to, well, anything, instead of being a terribly written mess of a legislating by ballot box at its worst, ala Prop 65 in California a number of years ago, which was relatively similar.

    Several other food bloggers who have strong environmental and small / local farming movement credentials have posts, such as http://petergiuliano.tumblr.com/post/33939678079/for-californians-only-on-proposition-37 and http://arduousblog.com/2012/09/20/why-prop-37-could-be-a-net-win-for-monsanto/ explaining “no” votes.

    Can you take the time to explain why you like this bill? I’m currently planning on voting no, but am certainly sway-able either way right now, and am a California voter.

  • Janel E

    For all your concern about food issues, I’m inclined to agree with many of them but I don’t follow you to read your political opinion. Your political opinions are not original nor are they really saying much that other chefs and food writers have not said. They’re all of the same persuasion, so why alienate your conservative readers and patrons? We already know you follow the Democrat party line.

  • Paul

    Thanks for sharing your viewpoint. Civil political discussions are always appreciated, and I happen to agree with your take on the election.

  • Ed

    Its your blog, so you can whatever say the hell you want. Simple!

    However, the question you might want to ask is “Does it make any difference what you say?”. The nation is so polarized that there are damn few “undecideds”. I’m moderate Democrat living among very conservative Republicans. My “moderate” views are looked on as far-left by the wing-nuts I’m surrounded by. They are so set in their ways that the almost daily flip-flops by Romney are not even given a passing thought. They are immune to logic! I asked one of them if they would vote for Hitler if he was a Republican. He thought a second and then said “probably”. So what can you do?

    If you haven’t done so, check out Andy Borowitz. His Borowitz Report and this Twitter feed will make a Democrat laugh and Republican smolder :-)

  • Karla

    Of course I think you can post about politics. Having read your body of work I find you to be an intelligent man who reaches well reasoned conclusions. I’m always interested in what people of your ilk think and why.

  • Matt Pedone

    There are many politically outspoken celebrities in this country, most of whom deal with criticism for not “sticking to their day job”. One such individual is the punter for the Minnesota Vikings, Chris Kluwe. He has been blogging for a local newspaper, and I think his words sum this up best:

    “I will not stand for the continual eroding of society. I will not tolerate the presentation of a biased argument under a thin coat of presumed neutrality. I will not contribute to the cheapening of discourse and thought that decays every single news as entertainment outlet in this country. I absolutely will not compromise my ethics and morality, ideals that lead me to treat others with empathy and honesty, to demand truth not only from myself but from those around me.

    I reject you, and I encourage others to do the same – to you, and to all others like you. To those who perpetrate deception and fraud. To those willing to hide the truth of their beliefs. To those who value flash over substance, short term gains over long term consequences.

    Without honesty, we have nothing.”

    (http://blogs.twincities.com/outofbounds/2012/11/05/out-of-bounds-blog-no-final-foundations-and-farewells/)

    This is YOUR website, Mr. Ruhlman. If you feel strongly about the election, SAY SO. To do otherwise is dishonest.

  • Tags

    As long as you’ve assiduously attended to your mise en place, no one should object if you “serve it forth.” Your major is in writing, your minor in gastronomy. Does anyone reading your words rely on your cooking skills, or do they rely on your ability to relay instructions clearly? Do students in a cooking class protest when an instructor gives them useful information that is not of a culinary nature? Don’t let anyone tell you what to write, but don’t be afraid to put your wisdom through its paces in choosing your words. After all, you may have to eat them later.

  • Peter W

    Whether or not you should have posts on polarizing political issues is an issue of branding. You have the right to post whatever the hell you please on your own blog. However, if you put forth a polarizing opinion, you must understand that you will then be branding yourself in a way that may isolate yourself from some people who may have been interested. The chick-fil-a controversy is a good example of this. Dan Cathy was fully in his rights to express his opinion on homosexuality, but he did so at risk of identifying his company and his reputation with the anti-gay agenda. So the question is, are you okay with the risk of distancing yourself from people who may be supportive readers but would be sickened by your political view? One controversial post every four years may not drive anyone away, but if this becomes a regular topic, don’t be surprices if you lose about 50% of your readers.

  • Tags

    If a reader objects to your opinion because you’re a teacher, then let them look at it as an observation from a student, which is what every good teacher is anyway.

  • Tana Butler

    By the way, Michael: I think Donna should have put the elephants on the white scallops. (I hope you laugh.)

    • Phyllis

      I’m not laughing, Tana! Why must democrats always play the “race” card? Really: black and white scallops? Pathetic!!!

  • Mallory

    The right to hold and express a political opinion may be justifiable for a notable food author. However, the concomitant ability for celebrity to influence others’ opinions seems unfair.

    One’s fame gives opinion weight disproportionate to expertise. A quick word from an entertaining voice often carries more gravitas than the humble, but honed, authority. Just as chefs improve their craft through devotion to skill and classical technique, the profession of policy analysis requires dedication before becoming accurate and balanced enough for extensive public consumption.

    An illustrative case is the above reference to Proposition 37. The author calls for Californians to vote yes on Prop. 37 so that they may know what is in their food. However, this statement belies subtleties within the bill, namely the proliferation of special interest exemptions that may render the bill moot.

    The emotion, conviction, and decisiveness with which celebrities publicly convey their opinions not only obscure the complexity of issues but give readers the false impression that they are fully informed. Those with a platform model a mode of decision making that empowers readers to over simplify and firmly entrench themselves- a most un-democratic legacy in an increasing polarized time.

    PS, I sincerely am a big fan!

  • Stephen Braun

    You know when scallops are done, right? You don’t time ‘em, you just use all your senses in a natural, organic way that could be labeled “instinct” or “your gut.” Goes for cooking in general–you know somewhere down deep when something is amiss, when a sizzle isn’t quite right, when the smell is off, when the crust is done, when the flavors harmonize. Well…I’m tuning into my gut on this issue of you veering into politics on your blog. Michael, I lova ya…read most of your books, respect the heck outta you…but my gut says that even though, clearly, you have every right to talk about whatever you want to on your blog, my gut says it would be better if you kept the focus on food and cooking, veering into politics only when it’s clearly food-related (i.e. foie gras amendments, etc.) Why? I can’t tell you, exactly, but it’s the same reason you can’t tell somebody when the scallops are done. You just know.

  • Mary

    It depends upon your topmost goal for this blog. If it’s to express yourself, then yes. If it’s to write about food and cooking to the largest possible audience, then no.

  • karen downie makley

    As a writer, you should understand “standard usage.” Usually, the term applies to grammar, but in this case we could apply it to the expectations set up by this blog forum. Heretofore, the “standard usage” of your blog has been for food-related topics. You did not set up your blog to be a weekly, Royko-style rant on whatever captured your attention that day in current events. Political commentary is not the “standard usage” of this blog. OF COURSE, you are entitled to your opinion. OF COURSE, it’s YOUR blog. But if you have to spout off on matters unrelated to food, you might consider starting a second politically-oriented blog. We (readers) come here with the expectation to read about and discuss food.

    • Dan

      Your expectations are irrelevant. This is one man’s creation. Whatever he deems appropriate, is.

  • Sunny Diaz

    Food is vital regardless of culture, time, or setting. Food is power, thus it is political. How can anyone expect that you would set aside your political beliefs when everything we love, hope for, and dread cannot happen without food? It is the Kevin Bacon of all issues.

  • Stacy

    People come to blogs to read other people’s opinions and perspectives on the world. You may be a food writer, but what does “food” mean? It’s necessary calories for survival, it’s culture and tradition, it’s health and wellness, it’s economics and trade. Every day we vote with our forks, and every year we vote with our votes.

    Should a chef only write about recipes and restaurants? You have a family, pay taxes, live in a community, and have values. I’m a vegetarian who reads your blog, and you haven’t convinced me to eat charcuterie, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about it, or that I’ve stopped visiting. You’re under no obligation to write what I want you to write, because hey! It’s a free country. If I don’t want to read your blog, there are thousands more I can choose from. Or I could go outside and take a walk. Or watch Fox News. Or buy a Big Gulp. Any of those are my own political statement, whether you (or your readers) like it or not.

  • Stephanie

    This is your yard. You get to put up any yard sign you want to. (And it’s rather a bit of a cheek to tell you otherwise!)

  • David Tucker

    Yes it is proper for you to opine on any issue that is important to you and that you have an opinion about. You have worked hard to establish your reputation as a thoughtful person on food issues and I’d imagine you take the same thoughtful approach on other issues. I don’t have to agree with your opinions, and if your opinions are consistently dead wrong then I’d be more and more chary of your food opinions, but having a platform and a voice is a wonderful thing and you should take advantage,of that.

  • allen

    Cooking brings people together, promotes international diplomacy, cooperation, and friendship. The peak of these traits were during the Clinton administration. We were concerned about diplomatic relations as a country. He got a B. J. & still functioned amid turmoil.
    Think of what a Grocery store vegetable aisle looked like 20 years ago: no lemon grass, now we have every kind of pepper known readily available and more spices. Diplomacy = better trade relations = more friendly echange = better selection, & better food!
    8 years of flushing it all down the toilet, I think we can at least try to restore that. But the primary concern in this election is trying to serve everyone Russian caviar and champagne on a ground beef budget. Will that turn our dinner into beef barley soup for all, or a rib eye & vegies ’round the house.
    I have no idea what the outcome will be, but I just made myself hungry & need to eat!

  • A.S.

    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.

    • ruhlman

      great questions all. I do consider it. on twitter I was asked “Find me a food writer who isn’t a liberal, baby-murder supporter. You’re all saying the same thing, towing [sic] the party line.” she was quickly called a Right Wing Nut Job but the point is not inaccurate that most people passionate about food, cooking, food issues, do tend to be liberals. I wish I’d asked people to say who they intended to vote for. I’m guessing 80% of the people who read this blog are liberal or left leaning, 20% sausage loving, venison dressing liberals. all of whom I love. I’m a “more the merrier” sort. as I said, two of my very closest pals are repubs, one my best man and life long friend is as seriously conservative as they get (tho not a RWNJ). So I would hope only the RWNJ’s unfolo and delete my feed. fine by me. thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      • David in PA

        You absolutely have the right to express your opinion about who to vote for. You even have the right to generalize that people who are “foodies” tend to be liberal leaning. I’m not sure on what facts that is based, but you have the right. You also have the right to describe conservatives as the codeword “RWNJ”. I’m not sure if you know any so called RWNJ. The conservative view of our nation is really about individual liberty and a limited government based on the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution provide the basis for Liberty and free speech. Conservatives are staunch defenders of Liberty and free speech. Without that defense, you wouldn’t be able to express your opinions on this blog. Be thankful for conservatives, they are really looking out for you and your liberty!

  • Deb in Indiana

    This site is your fucking yard and you can put up whatever sign you want.

    Well-reasoned, sufficient and complete. On this opinion, I completely agree with you. I may not agree with all the thoughts you express, but we are not in my yard, now, are we?

    Thanks for giving me a forum to express my thoughts. I am aware that you have no obligation to do so.

    • ruhlman

      well, what are your thoughts? this table is open. this is the whole point. i think one of the best comments so far was one word: freedom. i think we all can agree on that.

  • A.S.

    By the way, I will add that the thing I find most misguided in your post isn’t the standard issue liberalism – as a reddish voter in a blue area, I am used to it. But your thoughts on prop 37 are disappointing. There is little to no evidence that GM food present any danger to anyone. But by enshrining labeling in the State Constitution, you are implying something is wrong with it. That implication is unscientific and unnecessary. (yes, really there is an implication with the label – if I required a label on a bottle of water that said “warning – contains dihydrogen monoxide – excess amounts may be fatal”, some people would be scared away.)

    We have regulatory agencies that are better equipped to require appropriate warnings of danger. That’s where any labeling requirement should come from.

    • ruhlman

      I am not against GMOs–I don’t think anyone knows definitive answer to this, but it’s symbolic of my desire for a transparent food system.

      • diane p

        Ruhlman, why is it that your pal, Anthony Bourdain, and his travel companions (Eric Ripert, Ludo Lefebvre, et al) always say when eating in Europe, that the vegetables always taste so much better over there than they do here in America? I’ve wondered if it’s the GMO’s, the corporate take over of farms, or a seed stock that’s been adulterated over time? Do you have any insight as to why?

    • Tags

      “Implying” something is wrong? Nothing screams “something is wrong” like hiding and deception. Prop 37 shines a light that exposes and thus discourages slick legerdemain.

  • allen

    Freedom fries?!??
    What kind of arrogant, dumb ass, self centered, F’d up shit was that!

  • allen

    Y’all can keep yur brie cheese, pate, fancy wine & backets (sic), we gots our freedum fries.

  • Pam Seiffert

    I love reading your blog and I especially love reading all the comments. I’m the kind of person who always reads the letters to the editor. Of course, you should blog about politics. It is your right an an American to state your opinion. I suspect you really don’t care if some are offended and I think you shouldn’t worry about it. If people really read you for your food ideas, they shouldn’t worry about an aside. Keep up the good work, Michael.

  • Ryan J.

    I suspect that Ruhlman.com is not where you derive a majority of your financial security, but nonetheless, this site is one of your business properties. It represents Michael Ruhlman, the food author. As such, every aspect of this blog (from the posts and links, to the ads) is a forward facing representation of your business identity and personal reputation. Anything and everything can tarnish this reputation.

    While it is clear from your other activities and prior posts that you possess an intelligent, unique point of view, your reputation (and thus, your livelihood) is built almost entirely upon the viewpoint you provide as a food writer. That viewpoint by no means diminishes your ability to possess brilliant points of view in other areas like politics, economics, or art history. However, your bread and butter is (pardon the pun) writing on the such topics as bread (http://ruhlman.com/2011/01/multigrain-bread/) and butter (http://ruhlman.com/2012/07/butter-is-a-vegetable/). If that livelihood was not inextricably intertwined with this site, your flexibility on writing topics would be greatly expanded.

    That is not to say that just because you can, you should. After reading many of your books, it is clear to me that you are a master of focusing your prose. As a writer, we learn to “murder [our] darlings”. All too often, blogs suffer from a lack of focus. Though I am personally intrigued by your political thoughts, unless those thoughts provide food policy perspective, they seem off-topic and inappropriate for the Ruhlman.com archive.

  • Deb in Indiana

    Because you are kind enough to give me a forum does not mean that I want to climb on a soapbox. My point is only that if you wish to share your opinions, you have a handy space for doing so, and no-one should say you nay.

    I’d also say that if you wished to edit comments on your blog, that would be your right as well, although it would make your forum much less interesting. Just dull, though, not somehow immoral or unethical. I like the choice you have made, to leave your comments wide open, and I respect you for having done so, but once again — your choice, and no-one else’s to dictate.

    It’s your right to choose, Michael, how you run your blog. I get to choose whether I visit and whether I comment, and even whether I choose to put up a blog of my own. Anyone who tries to tell you that you should limit your content because they are used to seeing recipes instead of opinion should scroll ‘way up to the top of the page, where it says “MICHAEL RUHLMAN.”

    BTW, although I am generally chary of sharing my political opinions, I will admit that I am pro-choice.

  • Robert

    I think anyone should feel free to share their opinions but they have to accept that some will not agree. Those that don’t agree maybe a lot more vocal than the writer they disagree with.

  • Wilma de Soto

    There is nothing more powerful to me than words that are well put. Indeed, you write primarily about food and cooking, but you are first and foremost a person who is well-expressed in words, a writer; whether it be about food or any other topic of your choosing.

    Wordsmyths are far and few and I welcome any well-placed words put forth by them. This blog is your domain and if you choose to express yourself about topics near and dear to your heart whether it be this extremely important election, the passing of your father, the perfect poached egg, making stock or why your great toenail is painted blue in summer, those of who choose to read it should respect it; even though we might disagree.

    Tomorrow is a very important day for everyone for this country. We all of us have a stake in the outcome. Being a food writer should not silence your thoughts or beliefs about this, especially in your own house. All here say pretty much whatever they like on this blog. Why should you be denied the same privilege you extend to us in this space?

    I say write, write, write.

  • Aaron Sapp

    One of the guiding principles I try to live my life by is that everyone is a person first. They may be a food writer, they may be a Mormon, they may have been raised by a single mother, they may not have official documentation to be living where they are, they may be unintentionally pregnant; but all of them are people first.
    A mentor of mine once said, “the system only works if good people are willing to be a part of it.”
    So, because you a person (not just a food writer) you have the obligation, not just the right to contribute to the system in the best way you see fit.

  • SethH

    Michael, I hang out here because you’re awesome, and I try to never make the mistake of thinking anyone is somehow less awesome because we differ politically either a lot or a little (somewhere in between in this case).

    Yes, you’ll probably lose some readers who’ll be alienated by your political views, but as long as you’re not switching from food to politics full time, they’ll come back, because you actually are awesome.

  • Tim Jertson

    The answer is simple. The way toward a better country, and possibly world, is the frank exchange of ideas and opinions. The trend toward hiding our personal beliefs so as not to offend has simply led to polarization. Stand up for what you believe in. It is not necessary to tell others that they are wrong if they disagree with you. It is necessary to tell the “truth.” I in this case that means simply being honest about how you feel. It’s your vote, so vote your way!

  • Carly

    Just wanted to add, after reading a lot of comments, and starting to see one major distinction between myself and many people saying that no, they don’t think you should say anything about politics:

    I don’t come here to learn about cooking and food. I mean, I do learn things about them here, but I find purely informational and instructional blogs about food to be crushing bores. I don’t know everything about food or even that much, relatively speaking, but I know enough not to want to be “taught” all the time. I come here because I enjoy your writing, I’m interested in what you find interesting, and the discussion is engaging. So yeah, I could care less if you go off-topic sometimes, be it controversial or not.

  • Teri

    You have the right to write anything you want on your blog. And as an extremely pro-life conservative who disagrees with your politics, I have the right to stop reading your blog, which I will exercise now. God bless America.

    • Phyllis

      I am also unsubscribing to this site. I came here for the food expertise and leave now due to uninformed political ranting. How can one think Obama cares about food when Michelle threw their little girls to the wolves when she declared them to be obese for all the world to hear. Let me guess there’s a “good for the majority” reason for a mother to sell her babies out. No more Ruhlman, his books or his products!!

  • Eric Souder

    It is pure ignorance if we think that politics does not somehow effect our food. Look for example at the legislation against foie gras due to pure lack of education on the process and preparation of a staple of haute cuisine. But even extending beyond the halls of fine dining, one has to worry when it takes a first lady to alert the country to the dangers facing children in regard to their eating habits. In my current kitchen, a cook said quite bluntly “I don’t feel like voting either way, cus either way I’m fucked. These guys don’t care about me.” Perhaps it’s a few too many years of academic training, but I think a voice does count no matter how small, and if it takes one cooking blog to put the bug in the ear of the average home cook or diner, then we should embrace that to its fullest potential. Making a cook switch from recipe books to a 20:12 ratio for bread production is important, but showing someone that they can make the choice to do so and thereby better their cooking is another of perhaps far more value.

  • Brad McNeal

    i replied vociferously once to a Ruhlman non-food tweet. My point, then and now, is that, i read food blogs as a release from politics. It just was an unwelcome intrusion. Your expertise, well honed talents in one area do not make you an authority or give sway in other areas. Accordingly, I detest celebrity endorsements as a matter of course.

  • Diane

    You’re a writer who found your way being passionate about cooking and food. I deeply appreciate your posts addressing issues associated with these topics- namely health and sustainability.
    You are also a son, husband, and father with a conscious– and I deeply appreciate your taking a stand, and speaking out about your political beliefs. Especially in times like these. Keep on rocking in the free world, Ruhlmans! Thank you for sharing your combined creative paths.

  • Al W

    Comment 1
    In this case, “food writer” is a sub-set of American and by all means that makes it A Okay!

  • Al W

    Comment 2
    I live in Oregon wine country and for years we hosted back yard dinner parties. I used to put together the guest list to spur lively discussion. If you only speak with people you agree with, how do you learn. But when Bush declared his “mandate” and announced it was us against them, the dinner parties quit being fun. There was a bunker mentality from the right and descent was looked at as un patriotic. The right stole my flag and then they tried to steal my Church. Apparently one can’t be a Patriotic, Church going Liberal.
    For Halloween I wore a blue sweatshirt with a star labeled “Columbus” in the middle of the chest. I was Ohio as a blue state!
    I think it is sad that I see your laying out your opinion in a forum that could affect your ability to make a living, as brave.
    Keep up the good work, and it is your fucking yard! Do whatever you want.

  • Marty Miller

    I come to this blog and follow you on Twitter because I value your sage advice on food and cooking–not your political views. You have no training or expertise in politics, so please do not pretend that you do. I don’t need some Ed Schultz wannabe trying to tell me what to believe. When I want to learn about politics, I watch MSNBC. Besides, I have a hard enough time deciding if Ed Schultz is always right.

    For similar reasons, I also think that you should stop putting your picture on your blog and on the back of your books. I come here to learn about food and cooking, not to be reminded that you are better looking and younger than me. If I want that sort of thing I can pick up the latest copy of GQ. Thankfully I was recently able to find a used copy of The Elements of Cooking which had the big green “Used” sticker positioned so it covered up your face. Took me three months and emails to a dozen different eBay sellers to find one like that (although I think the guy may have just moved the sticker up on the back cover, as it’s starting to peel off a little bit).

    So please stick to food and cooking—the things that you know well. Politics is not your forte.

  • szg

    Michael:

    Each of us has an obligation to be informed and engaged in our political process. Admittedly, it can often be confusing, complex and confounding to sort through all the policy and electoral choices that we face. But, that’s where people like you and others have a role to play.

    It is up to your readers to decide when to believe your viewpoints and when to discount them. As an example, I care a lot about what you have to say about the GMO proposition in California. But, I don’t really care what you have to say generally about American’s foreign policies.

    I care about what you have to say about the GMO prop is that I view you as a guidepost on many food matters. You walk in the food world in a way that I cannot, nor do I have the time to figure it all out. So, I have to seek out people I respect and see what they think to help me shape my own views.

    Now, we won’t always agree. And others in the food world will disagree with you too. But it is only through rational give and take that our system of government can actually function. If all the reasonable people throw up their hands and disengage, it only serves to weaken our system and strengthen those that wish to manipulate it for their own purposes.

  • rwoof1

    Michael,
    This election is about moral choices; compassion vs greed. We all need to speak up whenever possible and point out why the “we” is more important than the “I”.

  • Frank

    I think the short answer is yes, it’s entirely justifiable. Each person’s opinion is important in a democracy, and their right to express it is enshrined in the Constitution. One’s vocation should never disqualify someone from participating in the national discussion of how best to run our country. You are blessed to have a platform to share yours with a large audience if you so choose. Whether you choose to or not is another question.

    I think it was Cleveland Brown’s coach Paul Brown who told his players to avoid politics “because both Democrats and Republicans buy tickets.” That was a business decision on Brown’s part. If you decide to stay away from politics because both Democrats and Republicans buy cookbooks then that’s your right and it’s understandable. I would never second guess you for that.

    I would ask you to consider that food *is* political though, and in that context your voice is not just important but needed. Whether you mean to or not you make a political statement when you buy an organically raised boutique pig from a local farmer. Is there any doubt that Monsanto and Smithfield Foods are also making their own (anonymous) political statements in the form of direct political donations and political lobbying? We need educated voices to counter THAT kind of politics. If some of your readers are offended by your opinions, then do you really need every reader?

  • Chris R.

    Consider: why should you “keep your mouth shut?” Surely it shouldn’t be because people disagree and don’t like your opinions. And frankly, I would say that they have reason to listen to you (and anyone with well-thought-out opinions): disagreement is important to democracy. John Stuart Mill defended free speech on the grounds it protects against errors. By adding your voice to the mix, you help protect against error on the search for truth and the right thing to do.

  • Sarah

    I speak from a variety of personas. One is a former law student (quick to criticize the drafting of laws) with an interest in food law and policy, one is the daughter of small business owners, one is a graduate of a prestigious liberal arts university, one is a food blogger, one is an eater, one is a sustainable food movement proponent. Making voting decisions is not a clearcut process for me, even when it comes to things like Prop 37.

    But there’s a reason I put your blog in my favorites folder, with only a few others. It’s because I view you as a real, complex human being who thinks with reason, an open mind, and conviction.

    I read John Stuart Mill in college, just like many of us, but I don’t necessarily believe that a greater exchange of ideas necessarily leads to the emergence of truth. As I can see in many responses to your post, there are many of us who believe it is ok for someone to believe differently than you so long as that person stays out of our faces. What I respect is the fact that you will engage with a variety of viewpoints, even if they disagree with your own. This to me speaks even more loudly than your stance on particular issues. This is not moral or political relativism–this is basic human respect.

    People are not required to pay money to read your blog. They are not forced to read every post. I won’t stoop down to explain the concept of free speech. If readers and consumers alone were responsible for shaping content, we would live in a world of stifled creativity and innovation. Whatever my political leanings and love of food might be, there is something greater that I value in your blog.

    You have never, at least so far as I have seen, pretended to be a smiling puppet. You have never tried to efface yourself from your posts on food.

    I could go on about food and politics, but that would be unfairly reducing you to someone who can only write about the latter insofar as it relates to the former.

    Recently I lamented to a friend that all food blogs are starting to look the same–glossy photos, recipes, self-promotion, or kissing the behinds of food royalty. Among these, your blog is a breath of fresh air. I would even say I don’t really read it primarily for food-related reasons.

    And if you’re interested, I’ll admit that it was your post that had me rethink my stance on Prop 37–same argument, but from someone I have come to respect. If that doesn’t demonstrate the power of speech, I don’t know what does.

  • former butcher

    I remember when there were good points made by both sides of the political debate. I can remember when the only thing that persuaded my mother to vote for Kennedy over Nixon was that he was Irish and Catholic.
    Today we have vast amounts of money invested in getting us to think that there is only one true American point of view. They have their own media, their own bought and paid for congressional delegates, and their own sense of righteousness.
    As a thinking individual, it is hard to ignore the assault on reason and personal freedom promulgated by these demogogues. The wing-nut crazies feel emboldened and entitled to make their views enacted into law. This is most drastically, and sadly, true in Ohio where an appointed official is trying desperately to silence the votes of those who might vote against his party’s candidate.
    In voicing a rebuke of this political thuggery, Michael is reacting as any thinking American would and should.
    I am a Vermont Democrat, but what wouldn’t I give to have the voices of Aiken, Stafford, or Jeffords in the Congress again? Other states had their Republican heroes too.
    The rest of us try to be civil and carry on with our lives while “birthers”, “truthers” , outright racists (at least they’re honest), and Tea Party crack pots howl at the moon. It’s like being in a bar that’s being taken over by the rowdiest drunks. You have to say SOMETHING!
    We can’t just stare at the floor when some bully says ‘charcuterie?? that some kind of French socialist crap?”
    Don’t hesitate to speak up, Michael. Silence just encourages them.

  • James in NZ

    Before anyone discounts what I’m going to say as the unimportant opinions of a foreigner, let me point out that even though I live in New Zealand, I’m an American. Watching the US from afar, with the growing division between ‘blue’ and ‘red’ states, people who cannot be friends with people who have differing political opinions, and the failure of the country to invest in its future, I see also that fearing to write what you think on your own blog is a sign of an even more worrisome trend that anyone who knows history should recognize. I say you should write what you like, and anyone who does not like it should remind themselves of that quote attributed erroneously to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

  • CD

    To answer your question: No, you shouldn’t. Your food writing is interesting, insightful and usually offers something new. A quick scan of your political comments reveal standard liberal boilerplate (Obama’s a saint, Romney is evil) that we’ve all heard before in other venues and do nothing to advance the issues or present them in a new way. And they’re boring, a cardinal sin for a writer. And I would say the same thing if you were spouting standard conservative rhetoric.

    I come to your blog as a welcome respite from the political bombardment we are constantly exposed to, especially now in this election season, as my mailbox and TV overflows with political ads and mudslinging.

    I would be interested in your take on how politics intersects with food and the culinary arts even if I disagreed with your conclusions, as long as you treated the “other side” with some fairness and understanding.

  • Dan

    It is immoral to even be asking the question. The right to express your opinion is never dependent upon the permission of someone else and giving this power to someone is simply wrong.

  • diane p

    Ruhlman, truth be told, I don’t always agree with you when you state your opinion, but still, I keep coming back! It just so happens this time, I completely agree with you.

    The fact is, Americans don’t agree about anything, but that’s what happens in a true democracy, opinions are given the freedom to be expressed, cultivated, and debated. Good or bad, the cacophony of opinions are the price of a democratic system. It is what makes America great. So, go on and express yourself, I don’t think your thoughts about our country, voting, and political issues are going to keep others from coming back. Don’t think you should moderate yourself, what you do for us in your involvement, commentary, sharing, insight and recipes regarding food, is what we thrive on. We Americans are passionate people, especially about our politics, but as Americans, we have always had the resolve, the ingenuity, and the drive to come up with the right solutions in the end. And besides, if the Mayan’s are right, we will soon have nothing to worry about…after December 21, 2012!

  • Vicki

    Did you see CNN Money today? The money guys are saying Romney would be better to get the economy going and deal with the fiscal cliff, etc. (I agree) so since you have a business it would seem like you would want Romney. If Obama wins, which I expect he will do, I expect the stock market will go down and the economy to limp along and probably go into another recession next year. Oh well….

  • cheryl

    The fact that you give your opinion is what brings me back time and again. Stand for something or fall for anything. I’m voting Obama/Biden.

  • Keith

    Politics in this country affect the food choices available to us. Truth in food labeling, GMO foods, food inspection, animal rearing practices and the list goes on. If this is food blog; how can you not comment on politics?

  • Vicki

    Deep-pocketed financiers who supported Obama during the 2008 election cycle have abandoned the president and flocked toward Romney, providing more donations to his campaign than any other industry except retired workers.
    Individuals who work in the securities and investment industry have doled out nearly $20 million to the Romney campaign, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, while they’ve given out less than $6 million to Obama. During the 2008 election, Obama raked in almost $16 million from Wall Street and John McCain, the Republican nominee, received donations totaling only $9 million.

  • Victoria

    Your right to express your opinion is guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Personally, I’m interested in your opinion because I believe you are intelligent and well-spoken, and you live in Ohio, which has had a spotlight shined on it for weeks. However, if I had no interest in what you had to say, I would simply stop reading that particular post.

    But I must admit, I find it rather frightening that people only want to read the points of view of those who have the same point of view. If you aren’t prepared to evaluate everything, how can you make an intelligent decision?

    I drove three hours back to New York City yesterday so I could enthusiastically cast my vote for President Obama.

  • Russ H

    It is of course appropriate for you to give your view on non-food matters. Before you are a food expert, you are first and foremost a writer. A writer only has two things to trade on. His views and his courage. Noted science fiction writer, Harlan Ellison, once said on writing:
    “Don’t be afraid. That simple; don’t let them scare you. There’s nothing that can do to you… a writer always writes. That’s what he’s for. And if they won’t let you write one kind of thing, if they chop you off at the pockets in the market place, then go to another market place. And if they close off all the bazaars then by God go and work with your hands till you can write, because talent is always there. But the first time you say, “Oh, Christ, they’ll kill me!” then you’re done. Because the chief commodity a writer has to sell is his courage. And if he has none, he is more than a coward. He is a sellout and a fink and a heretic, because writing is a holy chore.”
    Now Harlan, in his unique style, has gone a bit over the top in his prose, but his point is spot on, I read this years ago and it always stuck with me. And I think it address your question precisly.

  • Melissa

    This is your blog, so you can obviously say whatever you want here. And this is the U.S. of A., so you’re entitled to your opinions, whatever they may be.
    However, I come here to read about food. If a posting is not somehow related to food, I move on. That’s not to say that food isn’t political. Production, inspection, labeling, distribution, and other aspects of food are tied to our government at various levels. Therefore, those aspects of politics are certainly appropriate to write about here. And it’s certainly appropriate for you, on a food blog, to write about candidates and their positions on issues such as these that are related to food.
    But on the banner of this blog, you say that you’re “translating the chef’s craft for every kitchen.” Given that, you need to stay on topic when you write here. Political posts that are not about food-related subjects are not on topic to this blog. Write about those elsewhere, and leave this blog for the food.
    If you want to give us your opinions here about who to vote for based on food-related topics, that’s fine. If you want to give us your opinions here about who to vote for based on “eight disastrous years of Bush, unnecessary war, and an economy that was going to take well more than four years to fix” without showing us how those directly relate to food, that’s not fine.

  • Melissa

    You’re building the Michael Ruhlman brand and I can’t decide what that ultimately means for you. Since you are a public figure, I believe you have a responsibility to lead, create a consistent environment for as many people to participate in what you are creating with this blog as you can, honor and respect other human beings, connect with us as your readers, and most importantly, honor your own purpose. I think you accomplished this with this post. Thank you for putting it out there and inviting us to break bread with you this amazing day! I’m off to vote!

  • Paul

    In many ways, it is far more important that people with an established audience exercise their right to engage in political advocacy than their right to vote. In large elections, the statistical probability that a writer’s one vote will change the outcome is effectively zero. But a writer with an established audience might be able to persuade hundreds or even thousands of people to vote for his preferred candidates or policies. That actually could change the outcome of a close election (indeed, economists estimate that Oprah’s 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama earned him approximately 1 million primary votes)..

    With that greater impact, however, comes greater responsibility. Because an individual’s vote is unlikely to change the outcome of an election, individual voters have little incentive to vote intelligently; they vote their gut/heart, and the aggregate cost of this rational irrationality is the mess that is is American policy. These aggregate costs are multiplied when political advocates spread bad ideas to their readers. If a writer convinces 1,000 people to vote for an unjust law, he is 1,000 times more morally culpable than if he had simply voted and kept his opinion to himself.

    The takeaway is that writers with established audiences should feel comfortable advocating that their readers support specific candidates or policies, as long as the writer has an objectively reasonable basis for believing that the candidate or policy is the best available option. Gut feelings and intuition aren’t enough; there’s too much riding on these choices.

  • Billie

    Every single person on this planet, no matter what their profession has the right to speak out about the things that are important to every single one of us. I am just a secretary, does that mean that I do not have the ability to see around me what is going on in the world, in our country in my own home town? Of course we all see the things that are happening and we have the right, that is what voting is all about, to speak up and say what we feel. I may not be considered the smartest person, but I do believe that I and all of us has the responsibility to speak up and defend what is right and condem what is wrong. Our country is blessed that we have a constitution that says we have Free Speech!! So I say, speak up, shout it out, and go vote!

  • Dorothy

    If “corporations are people” able to express political opinions then surely a mild-mannered (ha!) blogger is entitled to express his political opinion!

  • Brad

    Michael,

    One of the things that draws me back day-after-day to your blog is that you speak/write your mind. For better or worse, politics is a big part of our lives here in America and I encourage all of us to become as informed as possible. Your post on 4.30.12 (Foie gras wars back on) was “political” and yet served to further inform me on some issues that I had not paid much attention to. I come to your site for insights on food, and often find myself leaving with insights that go beyond the table. (AIDS awareness, Farm bills, Honey bees and school lunches to name a few).

    Anytime someone puts themselves out into a public forum, I think they should bring some responsibility to the party. You share your views, your reasons, your recipes – and you encourage others to respond and do the same. This is democracy at its best and I encourage you to continue. For those who do not want to read/hear about politics from another point of view – feel free to head over to Mother Jones or FOX News and you can bathe in your ignorance ☺

  • indigotea

    You may lose some readers by espousing causes outside your primary expertise, but it’s worth it. I don’t understand those who froth at the mouth if anyone with the slightest bit of celebrity weighs in.

    I care about the logic, not the personality. If you can make your case convincingly, go for it. If you just wanted to say vote Obama (like me) because I’m a cool guy, nobody’s going to fall for that.

  • Kevin

    Since we’re voting, I vote that you send the book to Rob Levitt. You have the same right to express yourself as the CEO of Chick-fil-a, but is it a wise business decision? I miss the days when it was said you shouldn’t talk about sex, politics, or religion. Unfortunately that seems to be the only thing poeple talk about anymore.

  • Bonnie

    Should a food writer voice non-food-related political opinions the way other non-food people do… why not? I want to know what motivates and inspires people who have the spotlight about money management and food. I will not let a financial planner who is a tea-party devotée manage my money. Likewise, I would not listen to a food aficionado who does not question the politics of big ‘farma’. I want to be an informed consumer. Post away Michael!

  • Bill

    This is your site. You’ve created it through your own hard work, just like you’ve made a (presumably) good living through your own industriousness and talents. Do you believe, as President Obama does, that the government has the first claim on the fruits of your labor because you use public goods to do your work? Do people who aren’t industrious and productive like you not have the same access to roads and police and the internet?

    You’ve done the work, so you’re entitled to say anything you want on this site. In doing so, though, you have to accept that a large percentage of your readers will be alienated, and might well (as I have and will) decline to spend their money to support you any longer. So be it — you know this, and you are willing to pay that price.

    The reasons why you should, in prudence, refrain from political commentary come down to two things: First, you are gratuitously alienating readers, many of whom disagree with you. (For instance, maybe I am “outraged” that anybody would think that a woman’s convenience would possibly justify killing the innocent life within her. And by the way, no woman (but every man) is required to care for a child she doesn’t want: adoption is always an option, and a great one for many, many needy people.) Second, you have literally no expertise to offer on politics other than your obviously partisan impressions. For instance, it is a joke to say that you are for small business and then pretend that President Obama doesn’t have small business owners (like you, by the way) as a class warfare target. Extra taxes taken from small businesses won’t touch the deficit, but they absolutely do impede investment and job growth. Anybody who prioritizes job growth has to prioritize small business–and here’s news to you: that ain’t President Obama.

    Like I said, it’s your site. Say what you want. Vote for whom you want. But why gratuitously alienate a lot of readers, whose good will is good for you? Especially when you’ve got nothing but largely ignorant and tired sloganeering to offer.

  • Dale

    Not to worry, Michael. Nate Silver, in his “538″ column in the NYTimes, has the probability at 92% Obama 8% Romney.

  • Steve

    We are great because anyone, regardless of age, race, creed, professionetc. should be able voice an opinion in whatever constructive manner they choose. We are strong when we are able to disargee with one another. We are lucky because there is always another channel of information which can turn to.

    We are weak when our anger, confusion or naivety seeks to limit what we or others would say and the manner in which they say it.

  • Benjamin Atkinson

    Why would a food writer use their blog to comment on politics or other non-food issues?

    It cleanses the palette.

    I think everyone with a public platform should regularly serve up some dogma and opinion. Go ahead, vent that spleen!

    Your audience, like a bed of root vegetables, needs to be thinned periodically. Dashing off an opinion is a good way to cull the intolerant, the insipid and the Vandals. The trolls that remain are there to test your patience and grace. I think it’s a healthy and natural process.

    I don’t need to embrace your entire world view to appreciate your perspective on food.

    So toss me the occasional rant and let’s get back in the kitchen!

    With respect,

    Ben

  • Zalbar

    Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Todd Aiken, Fox News, all offer political commentary. I don’t consider them experts in those fields so I don’t see why your opinions should be deemed any less valid.

    p.s. sorry for lumping you in with those people, but you you did ask.

  • sjthespian

    I think you already said it best, “This site is my fucking yard and I can put up whatever sign I want.” Really, it’s your blog. If you want to talk about food, that’s great, and that’s what brought me to the blog in the first place. However, I don’t recall reading a disclaimer that it would be all you would write about. Anything you want to put in your blog shows you to be a real person and not just someone who puts out food tips — and that’s a good thing!

    Who knows, we might find out that you have opinions that we agree with and give us more of a reason to read your blog. For that matter, we might find out that we don’t agree and it will give us additional reasons to discuss and maybe even change our opinions or at least broaden our views.

  • Lynn

    I am responding not to get your book (I already have it and love it!), but just to give you a thought – I (and many, many others) come to your website to read your writings and wisdom about food. I came today and when I arrived at the politcal topics, my eyes glossed over. You absolutely have the right to post whatever you want in your yard so to speak, of course you do. However, we come to your website to get away from the political inundation that is everywhere we look and listen. I believe people need to educate themselves about the issues and vote – but not because Bruce Springsteen or Michael Ruhlman votes in one way or another.

    P.S. Thank you for your work! I’ll keep coming back.

  • melissa

    Yes.

    Do I think presentation matters? Of course. I think you win more hearts and minds (if not all the minds) by presenting your opinions in a calm, logical way, and not challenging those who disagree with a “if you don’t like it, get off my lawn.”

    Do I think because you’ve established yourself as an influential voice about food, that you should only stick to that? No. If your blog has a primary theme, then overall, yes, it’s good to make sure the majority of posts are about that, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be a person. If you want to express something personal occasionally, it’s your blog. You go into it with the understanding that there will always be people who will tell you to “shut up and sing” (to borrow from the Dixie Chicks), and you have to be okay with that.

    And as you said, a lot of the issues at stake this year (and every election) DO directly impact your readers in the world of food, small business, and other relevant topics.

    tl;dr: Say what you want, do it graciously, expect not everyone to understand or agree, and in the meantime keep doing what you love.

  • Tom

    Free speach is almost universally a good thing. It is your site and you should feel free to express your opinions in whatever manner you feel is appropriate. Over the last decade, food issues have become progressively more political. Your venturing over from food writing to political commentary is a natural extension of that.

    As a former Clevelander and now a Massachusetts resident, I will add that your generalities about Republicans may be a bit misguided. What we need in Washington is not a particular political party, but elected officials who are willing to work together. While the Congressional Republicans have been unhelpful and uncompromising, the Democrat-controlled House of 2007-2009 was just as bad.

    In my adopted home state, we have the choice today between a Republican Senator who has shown enthusiasm for working with the other party and a doctrinal leftist (not meant to be insulting) who was unable to name a Republican that she would work with next year when asked.

    I would only encourage all of us to look past political stereotypes and elect leaders who are willing to work together, compromise, and help our nation move forward.

  • Lesley

    You have every right to write whatever you wish on your [the key word] blog; it’s an expression of your freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech doesn’t translate into the responsibility (and certainly not the requirement) to be heard; those who don’t wish to read what you say don’t have to, and won’t.

    And that’s the issue – do you want to express yourself or do you want to express yourself and be heard/read? By choosing to express your political views on a blog that is described as “Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen”, you risk alienating half your readership over an issue that isn’t part of your blog’s mission, and you put your business at risk.

    Some recent examples of people’s livelihood affected by their political expressions include the Dixie Chicks and Chick Fil A. Personally, I like to listen to the Dixie Chicks and I like a Number 1 Combo, and I find food blogs enjoyable and relaxing. I’d like to enjoy them all without the stressful addition of politics, which are by definition, divisive.

    ps. I do appreciate that when you posted your views, you gave the reasons for your conclusions, which people may disagree with but generally aren’t offended by. However, when you then bashed people who have different political views, you crossed the line into offending a large portion of your readership. Why would you want to do that?

  • Timothy Mess

    Mr. Ruhlman,

    I enjoy your blog and publications for the thoughtful, well written written words and photographs on food and cooking. I therefore conclude you are, in general, a thoughtful and contentious person in most other matters in life. Your occasional drift into politics and other important current events often changes how I look at something. I usually find them valuable. I am grateful for that.

    Here is something concerning food and politics that has always bothered me. How come as a society we spend so much time discussing the dietary requirements, makeup and cost of the free lunch program at school and ignore one critical piece? In the public schools I am familiar with, in CO, there is not a single refrigerator a student can store their lunch below 40F and a suitable rewarming station to then bring it to above 140F for consumption? Wouldn’t allowing the students to safely consume last night’s dinner left overs improve the quality and cost for everyone?

  • darren

    “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.”

    The same amendment that gives you the right to say what you wish, also gives those who disagree with you the right to tell you how out of line they think you are in an attempt to stifle you. Very often when we confront something we disagree with we forget that others have the same rights as us, no matter how inflammatory, disagreeable, and provocative some of what they have to say may be. To use our speech to silence others is disgusting and shows how insecure others are in what they believe.

    And I voted for Obama too.

  • Elize

    Hi. I am writing from South Africa, from a subtropical area (East London) on the east coast of our beautiful continent, Africa. I am a passionate foodie who (embarrassingly) just discovered you, Michael Ruhlman. Of course you can write about your political persuasions on your own blog!

    Our corrupt and inept South African president, Jacob Zuma, just withdrew one of many court cases against an extremely sharp and perceptive cartoonist, Zapiro, for various hilarious and apt public mockeries in the press of our president and his cabinet. This was a victory for freedom of speech. In the meantime, our ANC government is cracking down on freedom of speech, to the dismay of writers, press and liberalists. So: Americans, revel in your freedom of speech and enjoy Ruhlman’s comments. Debate, engage, argue. There are so many countries where this luxury does not exist. Let us hope what Mandela fought for in our beloved country is not misinterpreted and corrupted by his subsequent followers and leaders of the ANC.

  • Lisa H

    Thousands of conservatives lined up to praise and support the owner of the corporation Chic-Fil-A right to freely express his opinion in denouncing gay rights. Supporters cried about free speech and how liberals are so bad for call him out on the issue. Did Mr Cathy’s public support of this have anything to do with food? Did he spend his money looking into making his industry better, healthier? Did he use that money to bring locally grown or/and ethically raised meats to his restaurants. No, he just openly used his position to push his non-food agenda.

    So by the same logic, you have that right as well.

    As readers of your work and blog, we know what is important you in your chosen field. You do a lot to educate people on issues and champion local farmers and businesses. Therefore, if you believe one candidate supports your views more than the other in these issues, then it is your right as an American to say so.

    If it offends people, so be it. Go have a garden party because you can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.

  • Danny Breeds

    If anyone stops reading a food blog because they disagree with a writer’s political beliefs, they really weren’t worth having as readers in the first place. They obviously don’t prioritize food the way you might because they put their team “winning” in front of it. They are also gigantic freaking hypocrites because they pay their money every day to people who have different political views unless they’ve only seen movies starring Jon Voight and Clint Eastwood in the last ten years. Somehow, I don’t think that’s the case and if it is, God help them.

    I’d like to know how many people who are complaining about you airing your views have actually bought a book from you, supported an advertiser from a show you were on, or even a company that your partner with. I’d be willing to bet the actual bark is way louder than their financial bite.

    And finally, the President has little to no effect on the economy. We’re going to create 12 million jobs no matter WHO wins. Some of the posts I’ve read here lecturing you on small business are laughable. Aren’t you and Donna a small business? They presume to tell you how it really works when you are out there everyday promoting and building your brand? Personally, I’d rather they just said thank you and went on their way instead of trying to “educate” you on how your life works.

    Presidential elections come down to two things, Wars and Judges. I know who I trust more on both counts.

  • Skip

    You are an American. You are an adult. You have the right to vote. Your vote comes down to an opinion hopefully based on knowledge, research, open-minded discussion and not a knee-jerk loyalty to some party and its self-serving-and-sustaining slanted political statements. You being an extremely informed and deep thinking writer on many subjects and not just food alone, I am very interested in what you have to say. Whether I agree with you or not, I will value the fodder you have given me to challenge and shape my own opinions. I will value your opinion far more than I do the politicians who sit on science committees and have never studied science but only the Bible. I will value your opinions on animal husbandry and farming and the humaneness and dietary concerns and economics in those endeavors. I suspect you know more about them than the average Congressman from Iowa, Kansas, etc. Because of the honesty and humanity I feel when I read your blog and your books, I will be interested in your opinions of people and what they do. Ultimately it comes down to no matter what I think, it’s the United States and you have the right to write about what you think and I have the right to read it or not and agree and disagree with you. So Michael, right on! Write on! I’ll be reading and thinking about it.

  • Mantonat

    You’ll be happy to know that there’s a Romney ad running on your home page right now!

  • Bricktop Polford

    Your fucking yard and my choice not to give a flying fuck what you think about politics. (And I don’t).

    There was another food blog I read where the author had a non sequitor screed against Bush, I mean completely out of the blue. I commented that I read his blog to read about food, and to get away from politics. He posted then later deleted my comment. I deleted him from my feeds.

    You MR don’t seem so thin skinned, and even though there’s the usual considerably large amen corner posted above, at least contrary POVs such as mine are available to be read. I just hope that if Romney wins, this place is not going to turn in to a food version of MSNBC. If so, then I’m out. Chances are though, we’re going to stumble along like we have the last four years.

  • Michael

    Our first, and most sacred right is that to speak freely.

    The mediums by which to do so are limited only by the imaginations of the right holders. Four years ago you made the choice to use your own blog, which you rely on for income, to proclaim your political and social opinions in a concise and intelligent manner.

    The medium you chose lends a self sanctity to your words. You believe in your position and you deny the right to others to make you afraid of your beliefs.

    And for that, for others who do the same, We are the United States of America.

    Todays political world has become less about free social ideas and more about a forced doctrine supported by the illusion of political and social platform cohesiveness.

    As citizens of this great (and still young) country we should use whatever mediums we have available to us to explain our views to each other. In doing so we can hope to find balances that preserve the ideals that made the creation of this country possible in the first place.

    I suspect that you and I may agree in principle on many things, and we may disagree on others. In any case, know this: Anyone who calls themselves a citizen of the United States will always have my full and unwavering support and defense to make your thoughts known, no matter what they are.

  • David in PA

    You absolutely have the right to express your opinion about who to vote for. You even have the right to generalize that people who are “foodies” tend to be liberal leaning. I’m not sure on what facts that is based, but you have the right. You also have the right to describe conservatives as the codeword “RWNJ”. I’m not sure if you know any so called RWNJ. The conservative view of our nation is really about individual liberty and a limited government based on the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution provide the basis for Liberty and free speech. Conservatives are staunch defenders of Liberty and free speech. Without that defense, you wouldn’t be able to express your opinions on this blog. Be thankful for conservatives, they are really looking out for you and your liberty!

  • Annie A.

    Everything is political. To say that you have to focus on food and abstain from politics is akin to telling someone they have to focus on breathing and abstain from having their heart beat.

    Food, by very nature of what it is, is controlled in some manner by the government. Local government sales tax, federal government involvement from the USDA to the FDA. Even more than just food, the people we vote for govern our freedoms with things like interstate commerce or censorship or the internet.

    To ask you to abstain from politics is to ask you to abstaining from any input into how the government controls the very products you use to cook, to blog, and to make a living doing those things.

  • Krishna

    To paraphrase Voltaire:
    I might disagree with you Sir, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

  • Dan

    I agree with Rob Levitt way up there. It’s your place, you can do what you want. However, people come here to read about food and cooking. We love you for it. And when you start talking about political things, if your views don’t line up with ours (perfectly, mind you), then it shatters that feeling of connectedness. In the end, it’s a marketing decision for you. Do you value your ability to speak about politics more than you do your readers? It’s a personal call.

    In my view, the only politics I’d like to read about here has to deal with 3 Crabs brand being the best damned fish sauce on the planet, and that those who don’t believe so deserve hellfire and damnation. I’m sure we can all agree on that topic.

  • Marika S.

    I have yet to hear a good arguement as to why food or politics should remain in a rarified sphere of discussion and not be let out in mixed company. Ideas, especially ideas different from our own, help us understand and grow. It’s only if we are afraid we might *shudder* learn something new and change our mind that the thought of free and open exchange becomes disturbing. Whether we are talking about farming, food, wine, art or politics, we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and not leave the critical decisions to “experts”. Since a blog like this lets us exchange different ideas as well as have fun and learn, how is discussing things outside the immediate definition of “food” anything but a win-win for all of us?

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