Case Study: Food Media

Our two major questions posed to the food media industry were:

1. How can food media better present non-white cultures without tokenizing them?

2. How can food media organizations implement programs of change to combat tokenization and move towards more equitable representation?

Our end goal was to prompt widespread and publicly accountable process changes at all food media publications that would:


1. Respectfully and accurately represent BIPOC foods and foodways.


2. Create systems for redistributing power to BIPOC professionals, and create new pathways to leadership for BIPOC in food media.

A group of people at Studio ATAO's first live Experimental Salon

Part One

Learning from the community

In early 2020, we gathered a group of food media industry professionals via our Experimental Salons small-group discussion model to understand the obstacles they face when it came to equitable representation within food media.

Our participants ranged from freelance writers and video producers, to podcast hosts and editorial staffers. Our goal was to gather a diverse cross-section of the food media industry that often do not have their voices heard in editorial boardrooms.

Part Two

Creating resources

From these initial learnings, we launched our first Toolkit Recognizing, Disrupting, and Preventing Tokenization in Food Media in April 2020. This toolkit has since been shared widely, including in NY Magazine, Eater, Bon Appetit, TASTE, and the James Beard Foundation.


We also hosted two public panel discussions on the topic, amassing over 1,000 signups.

A collage of news articles and food in a bowl with a large pair of lips using pens to eat some of the newsprint
Well + Good logo in black and white
The Kitchn logo in black and yellow

Part Three

Practicing accountability

In 2021, we scheduled a years' worth of bi-monthly accountability Salons with editor-in-chiefs and other editorial leadership to discuss the implementation of systematic changes towards equity in their organizations.


We are also working with two food media publications — The Kitchn and Well+Good — to document their ongoing DEI efforts on both the content side and pertaining to their staff & contributors. We are providing public, quarterly updates from both companies with clear details of successes and challenges faced internally, and an actionable framework that all media companies can learn from and implement immediately.


Events & iterations

We also host food media town halls that are open to the wider food media community to ensure those working in the industry have ready access to editorial leadership and provide real-time feedback on new changes.

We are also continuing to conduct additional Salons with new editors in other media outlets to update both our first toolkit and our second, organizational change specific one, Toolkit for Implementing Systematic Changes Towards Equitable Representation in Food Media.


Custom work

We are working privately with various food media organizations to host internal workshops and create new company-wide guidelines, milestones, documentation regarding equity in both people and content.

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