Cathy Erway on Learning to Lead and Champion a Cause

In Chapter 13 of 16 in her 2012 interview, author and food writer Cathy Erway answers "What Does It Mean to Be a Leader in What You Do?"  By championing the good food movement, promoting healthy eating and encouraging people to cook at home, she finds it critical to engage people to drive action.  By allowing people to respond and take action to her words and messages, she finds her leadership actionable.  Erway goes on to share food writing and healthy eating mentoring influences, including Anna Lappe, Marion Nestle, and Alice Waters. 

Cathy Erway is an author and food writer living in Brooklyn.  Her first book, "The Art of Eating In" developed from her blog "Not Eating Out in New York".  She earned a BA in creative writing from Emerson College.


Erik Michielsen:  What does it mean to be a leader in what you do?

Cathy Erway:  Well, there are different levels of what I do. I think that one of the things that you could say I do is champion the good food movement, healthy eating, and cooking creatively at home. So-- "What does it mean to be a leader?" means engaging people and leading people, not just by writing about it, but by getting out there and organizing activities, initiating group -- just engagement somehow, whether that be asking people just questions to answer to in a Twitter feed or getting together a bunch of people and hosting a great event for a good cause. So I think that people just need to respond to you and need to be active themselves, they need to take an action, aside from just watching or reading, in order for you to be a leader.

Erik Michielsen:  Continuing on that, what leaders have you learned from?

Cathy Erway:  I've learned from a great deal of a really good food writer mentors. Also, along those lines, there are lots of local leaders in the food world, Anna Lappé who lives down the street from here, she's great, she's always been very active. Same with Marion Nestle she's always on panels, always talking, always being at events. I don't know her personally, but Alice Waters is such a leader. It's insane how much she does.

Erik Michielsen:  How so?

Cathy Erway:  Edible Schoolyard, I was out in Berkeley, California when they were celebrating their 30th anniversary with that project, and it just seems to expand all the time. They add more functions to this project. There's more cooking courses going on, there's more events surrounding it, and more groups that are getting involved with Edible -- it's like this thing, it's like this beast now. So, yeah, she's a huge leader.