One Question Quiz
Wake up with woke sushi (Image: Tina Tiller)
Wake up with woke sushi (Image: Tina Tiller)

MediaMay 11, 2024

The Weekend: How the woke sausage is made

Wake up with woke sushi (Image: Tina Tiller)
Wake up with woke sushi (Image: Tina Tiller)

Editor Madeleine Chapman looks back at a busy week where food of all political leanings dominated.

Sometimes you’re just going about your week thinking you’ve got a good handle on what might be coming as far as news topics and then someone (usually a politician) says something so ridiculous that everyone gets distracted for a few hours. Ideally, the distraction still involves something being written, but that’s not a given, as these distractions tend to flare very bright and disappear quickly so it’s easy to miss the moment. This week, the distraction was David Seymour saying some foods were “woke”, and three hours later we published a list of woke foods. I thought I’d give a little insight into how some of our fast, silly pieces come together (see also: The Spinoff Power List).

On Wednesday, David Seymour announced that after weeks of threatening to kill the school lunch programme, he was actually going to save it not kill it. He also announced that it would be expanded and cheaper and would not include “woke food like quinoa and sushi”. As often happens when announcements are made, the details were posted in The Spinoff slack, with a possible silly angle for coverage.

After a flurry of activity and many, many thoughts on where every food item might be ranked, someone (deputy editor Alice) finally “did some work”.

Chat then moved to the doc and there’s inevitably a period where everyone’s in the doc at once then everyone leaves the doc and forgets about it for an hour until someone (Alice again) realises we should probably “do something with it”.

And by 3pm, our silly Slack chat had made it to the site as an article. Pretty cost-effective, actually, now that I think about it. Make of this what you will but that list of woke and non-woke foods is currently the most-viewed story on The Spinoff all year. It’s what I’d call a sweet treat (not woke) article. You know it’s not healthy for every meal but boy is it fun every once in a while.

This week’s episode of Behind the Story

For some more nutritious food journalism, I spoke to staff writer Shanti Mathias for this week’s episode of Behind the Story about her data-heavy story this week, “Seven graphs that show where New Zealand’s food comes from… and where it goes”. Shanti gathered immense amounts of data from Statistics NZ about New Zealand’s imports and exports and compiled some fascinating graphs to show where some of our most common food items (think rice, wheat, bananas) actually come from. We chatted about her extensive process to make the data accessible to readers and the strange reality of our wheat growing in New Zealand (spoiler: it’s mostly for animals, not humans, so we import a lot). Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

So what have readers spent the most time reading this week?

Comments of the week

Valid question about woke food

On the teaching of New Zealand history in New Zealand

Pick up where this leaves off

Sign up for my weekly Saturday newsletter, where I add more handpicked recommended reading and essentially bundle everything up for you and land it in your inbox at 9 a.m.

Keep going!