2023 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Micro Newsroom finalist

Civil Eats

About the Project

Founded in 2009, Civil Eats is an independent, nonprofit digital news and commentary source about the American food system. By covering the Heartland, Main Street, and Capitol Hill, and focusing on fair, balanced, high-quality journalism, Civil Eats breaks important news, educates leaders and policymakers, influences the national conversation, and serves as an invaluable resource for mainstream media. We pride ourselves on our well-recognized reputation for nuanced and trusted solutions-oriented reporting.

We are a digitally native and user-driven publication that is still going strong 14 years later and in the face of a challenging media landscape that has hurt dozens of other digital publishers, including Vice Media and BuzzFeed News. We’ve never accepted venture capital funding or advertising; instead, we created a successful membership program in 2015 and have expanded our engagement to support this model. We also understood that social media was critical to how people found our content, and invested early in tools and an audience engagement editor to build our readership.

We remain unparalleled in the media marketplace for our commitment to reporting on food justice and Indigenous Foodways. We have expanded our reporting to offer video storytelling with Civil Eats TV, and launched an award-winning member newsletter, The Deep Dish, which explores one topic each month in great detail. In 2022, we launched an investigations desk focused on exposing corporate power in the food system. We also offer opportunities for members to engage with our staff and content, including a Slack channel and ongoing online video salons featuring our editorial team.

For years, we have partnered with a wide range of other media organizations as a way to bring our content to more people. Partners have included NBC News, The Atlantic, TIME Magazine, The Guardian, HuffPost, PBS/ITVS, New York Magazine, Eater, Salon, Slate, and PRI, among others. We have also received special funding for investigations supported by Civil Eats, including from the Gumshoe Group, the Pulitzer Center, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, and the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources. We were also the first non-Native organization to receive funding from the First Nations Development Institute to support Indigenous Foodways coverage.

Civil Eats was named the James Beard Foundation’s Publication of the Year, has been inducted into the Library of Congress, and awarded the 2020 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) digital media award for Best Group Food Blog.

This year, our investigations have received several awards and accolades. A five-part investigative series, “Injured and Invisible,” has been nominated for a James Beard Media Award for Investigative Reporting. The lead story also received an Occupational and Environmental Medicine Media Excellence Award, and a third story about Tyson Foods received an honorable mention for the Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Additionally, the story, “Black Farmers in Arkansas Still Seek Justice a Century After the Elaine Massacre,” was selected for inclusion in “Best American Food Writing 2023,” which is edited by Mark Bittman.