Thursday, October 17, 2013

Martha Stewart: Apparently Bloggers and Being Local Are NOT a GoodThing.

I was going to write about a roast chicken I recently made, but something or rather someone got in my way.  Today I was on Facebook and found this video waiting for me to view from a friend's Facebook page.  I'm sure this video won't be out for very long and I'm sure that bloggers from all over will have something to say about it.  I certainly do.  Have a good watch and listen.
Here's a few things I noticed about her commentary and some other things with which I take issue.  Specifically her criticism of bloggers.
First and foremost, lets talk about the companies she is praising.  According to this interview these are the companies she believes to be either good, have good taste, or are good business tools.  Here's her list.
  • Home Depot:  Not "schlocky".  Because I am not a paid editor at Vogue magazine I had to look this up.  According to schlocky means "something, such as merchandise or literature, that is inferior or shoddy."  Phew!  I'm glad that's not me.
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Macy's
  • Amazon
  • Calvin Klein
  • Donna Karen
  • Twitter
What did you notice about all these companies? 

First, I noticed that two of them (Home Depot and Macy's) sell a great deal of her products.  Hey there's nothing wrong with a little bit of shameless self promotion, but still it's worth mentioning.  She kind of went on and on about Home Depot and gave honorary mention to the others.  Hmmm.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  This is probably one of the many reasons why she is so much more successful than I can ever hope to be.  One cannot deny that she is an intense and driven business person.  I don't have a problem with that.  I do have a problem with something else about her choice of companies. Which brings me to my next observation.  
Secondly, I noticed that none of these companies are local or even locally minded.  I think that since this blog is about local living it's worth noting that Martha did not mention a single local company that she considered good or of having good taste.  Really?  How many houses does she have now in the countryside?  She couldn't think of one local business that deserved mentioning? 
The irony here is that Ms. Stewart previously used to mention on her shows about the superiority of local markets, butchers, farmers etc.  It was one of the aspects that attracted me to her shows in the first place.  Now apparently a company can never get too big and I couldn't disagree more.  Aside from Twitter, the above bulleted list contains the majority of companies that have put local businesses out of business.  Remember what Bellingham hardware/home supply stores were like before Home Depot came in?  I do.  First of all there were a lot more of them and second of all the people who worked there knew what they were talking about.  Home Depot, in Bellingham, is the bane of my DIY existence.  Now granted the scope of my DIY skills is very limited, but I have rarely had a good experience there.  After ignoring me for what seems like an eternity, you finally get someone to help you (The Expert in All Departments person) and they inevitably are unhelpful.  Either the product is not in stock or they don't know what you need.  I won't even get started about their paint department.  That's a completely different disaster and I'm already getting off topic. 

When my husband or I need something for a home project we start at one of two places: 
Hardware Sales or Builders Alliance (My brother-in-law is the Operations Manager there).  Hardware Sales has a huge selection and Builder's Alliance is where we go for impeccable quality and good taste.  It's not that difficult to find what we need and 99% of the time we do.  On those rare occasions when we can't find what is required we drag ourselves to Home Depot and hope for the best.  Usually they don't have it either and we're forced to order on Amazon.  I never feel especially thrilled that we had to look beyond a local company, but we always think local first and that's the point. 
Me on Patos Island, WA I believe.  That was a very fun day.

Let's move on to the part of the conversation that's a little more personal shall we? 
Martha has a minor gripe about us.  It's not a minor gripe as much as a general disdain.  Here are some issues she has about bloggers or people like me.  Naturally I include my response to each one:
  1. "Who are these bloggers?  They're not trained editors at Vogue Magazine." 
    Well, she's got a point.  I'm no trained editor at Vogue.  Heck I'm not an editor at all.  I'm a stay-at-home mother who has a passion for lactose-free cooking and living locally.  But guess what?  Neither is she.  Ms. Stewart is very successful, but she is not a trained editor at Vogue and she's not a blogger.  I got her beat on at least one thing.  No wonder she doesn't understand who we are.  Blogging came WAY after she was already firmly established in her current career.  Ironically, my description of myself sounds a lot like Martha back before she started catering. 
    I'm a blogger.  I write about me and I'm an expert on that. I have two blogs.  I'm very proud of them.  Both of them have nothing to do with Martha but are about me and how I choose to live my life.  They both revolve heavily around eating because I like good food.  By the way, here's a link to the other one in case you are curious.
  2. She claims that blogger's recipes are either "not tested or are not very good."
    That's quite a claim and one that I think most bloggers are going to be upset about.  However I can only really speak for myself.  All of my recipes are tested.  I don't just make them once.  I make them many times over.  My potato leek soup took me over a year to perfect but she's right it's not good.  It's frickin' awesome.  It's so good that my kids and husband get excited every time potatoes come in our CSA box.  I take personal exception to her above comment.  What I make is good and I have excellent taste in food.  I may not have the knowledge or have the time to blog about what she makes, but I know good food when I taste it.
    I also want to know how she knows these things.  How does she know that blogger recipes aren't tested or that they aren't good?  Does she have people spying on all our blogs, testing our recipes and then finding out that they are awful?  The idea of that is a bit humorous to me though.  I chuckle at the image of Martha scouring the web for blogs of poor taste with inefficient recipes. 
  3. Blogger recipes are just "copies of things really good editors have created."
    There's a little bit of truth in what she is saying here.  Unfortunately, there are bloggers who  plagiarize other peoples recipes and display them as if they are their own.  I will speak for myself on this issue.  I have blogged before about when I believe you can call a recipe your own.   It is also important to credit the source of your recipe.  Bloggers who don't do this make us all look bad and therefore we all must endure Martha's wrath and disdain.  Thanks a lot.
    Also, editors don't create recipes.  Chefs and cooks do. 
  4. Bloggers create a "popularity..."  I'm not sure what this is referring to exactly, but basically it sounds like she feels as though she is loosing a popularity contest.  Martha Stewart is popular.  Some blogs are popular.  Mine aren't, but I don't blog to be popular.  I blog for myself.  Period.
  5. Bloggers are "not the experts."  I'm not an expert in cooking and I don't have formal training in that area. I say so in both my blogs. Both of them revolve heavily around cooking and living in a way that suits me. A small amount of people read my blogs and share my preferences.  
    Martha Stewart has a lot to offer, but she doesn't know beans about how to live locally in my community ( and she definitely doesn't know how to cook for the lactose intolerant while still using real dairy (
    I don't write my blogs so that I can become famous one day, even though that was clearly Ms. Stewart's goal all along. That's fine and was her choice.  I write for a creative outlet and for personal enjoyment.   
My husband Matt and my boys in Tofino, BC. 

    In conclusion here's my final point. I have a husband and family that love me and I prefer to spend time with them. That is my choice. I don't want to spend my life in the quest for popularity and fame.  My blogs may not ever hit the big time, but they are an essential creative outlet and are very important to me. I am saddened that Martha Stewart doesn't seem to understand the blogosphere and it's place in our culture.  Social media isn't going away and I'm sorry that she feels threatened by it.  She shouldn't trash all bloggers just because she doesn't get it.  She has her outlet, now leave us alone and let us have ours.