Jessie Johnson grew up in Oregon with professional foodies like her grandmother who taught who taught her to love cooking and showed her how powerful a catalyst for community food can be. It’s her overwhelming passion for food, a passion that reaches far outside of the kitchen, that inspired me to share her with you in my Culinary Chronicles.
She’s the woman behind the incredible “Life as a Strawberry” blog. I have to say I’m a bit partial to the name! She says that blogging has forced her to be more creative and adventurous in the kitchen, trying new recipes and foods that she otherwise may never have experienced like her stunning Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Strawberry Salsa.
I love sharing my recipes with the world – the best thing ever is when someone leaves a comment saying “I would have never thought I could make this at home – but I totally did it!”
Looking back, Jessie isn’t sure why she felt so confident in becoming a food blogger. She felt she had no idea how to use a camera (you’d never know if you saw her beautiful photography!), no experience in web design, and not the slightest idea of what it took to be successful. But as many of these stories go, it wasn’t long before she learned the ropes and grew her blog to the behemoth it is today.
Thankfully Jessie isn’t one to keep her secrets to success to herself. She has created guides on her blog to help others start their own food blog, become a great food photographer, monetize their blog and even tips on publicizing their blog once it is established. Her guides are free and incredible resources for those wanting to jump head-first into the food blogger waters!
To Jesse, helping people realize that they really can cook is so exciting. She feels that with the right tools and the right encouragement people can thrive in the kitchen and online.
It was her mother who really ignited Jesse’s passion for food and food security: seeing the struggle of being hungry sparked something in her, and ever since then she has dedicated her academic life to furthering research on food security and sustainable food systems. Her mother started a non-profit when she was about 15 called The Table, which provided free meals and groceries to low-income families outside Portland, Oregon, where she grew up.
After a year or so of blogging, I realized that bloggers as a group weren’t really talking about sustainability. That was crazy to me – we were talking about food every single day, but no one was talking about where that food came from! I saw an opportunity to rally this community and use our collective platform to do some good.
So in 2013, Jessie founded The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project to create a space for food bloggers to talk about sustainable food systems in a collaborative way. The goal is to bring food bloggers together in a conversation about sustainability and to provide resources for sustainable seafood to bloggers and readers alike.
Jessie spent her undergraduate education researching what people eat, why they eat it and what food means to us both as individuals and as a society. Her senior Honors thesis looked at the social impact of home cooking, evaluating the effect that childhood cooking had on adult dietary habits. After college, Jessie worked as a manager at an arts nonprofit, and started Life as a Strawberry as a way to stay connected to food.
I wear a lot of hats, between Life As A Strawberry and grad school and The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project – but everything comes back to food. It always has, and I hope that it always will.
Learn more about Jessie by liking her on Facebook, following her on Twitter, exploring her pints on Pinterest and diving into her Tastespotting submissions. Of course you’ve gotta subscribe to Life as a Strawberry!