Becoming a Food Writer: Meet Michael Tanenbaum

Michael Tanenbaum is a fixture at local markets and farms in the Los Angeles area. No matter the season, you’ll find him exploring local and fresh ingredients, developing relationships with local farmers, discovering new products from small businesses, unearthing seasonal gems to feed his family, and sharing resources with his Consciously Kosher audience.

Growing up, Michael was always the first at the dinner table and the last one to leave – but he didn’t pay much attention to what he was eating. It wasn’t until eight years ago that he discovered the tremendous impact food can have on health, and this tumbled him down the path to learning how to cook food from scratch, leave his job, and discover a passion for food journalism.

Careening towards burnout

For more than a decade, Michael worked in social media, branding and marketing, directing campaigns and analyzing data. The hours were long and draining, and eventually, the exhausting pace began to wear him down. His lifestyle wasn’t sustainable, but he wasn’t sure how to pivot and find his way out.

Alongside his impending burnout, Michael suffered from allergies, sinus problems, and food sensitivities. He assumed these were problems he simply had to cope with for the rest of his life. One day, a naturopathic friend suggested that dairy products could be the culprit.

Within a few weeks of ditching dairy products and other problematic foods, 80% of his chronic health problems had evaporated.

Discovering the power of food

becoming a food writer

Michael’s personal health success prompted him to delve into cooking fresh, nutritious food at home, visiting farmers’ markets for the first time, and connecting to his food supply – what Michael refers to as his ‘modern interest in food’.

“I got curious to know more about how food affects our bodies beyond fulfilling our hunger,” he says. “I began to understand the therapeutic benefits of food, how it could be anti-inflammatory, brain-boosting, energy-providing, and more.”

Soon, Michael became the go-to healthy food expert in his circle, particularly at work.

“My boss and colleagues would hover around me during lunch each day to see what I brought to eat. They could not believe the diversity of the side dishes and the unusual fruits and vegetables that rolled out of my lunch,” Michael says. “By that point, there was no doubt that I needed to explore this direction further.”

Michael’s naturopathic friend Anders, the same one who suggested he eliminate dairy, recommended he consider the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. Anders grew up with Culinary Nutrition Expert Program Founder + Director Meghan Telpner and thought that Michael would appreciate her personality and teaching style along with the program content.

“As soon as I landed on the homepage, I was hooked,” Michael says. “I could not believe that the course taught what it taught. I just knew that this course was a match made in heaven for my burgeoning interests in food and healing through food.”

Creative sparks flying

food writer Michael Tanebaum

Michael joined the Culinary Nutrition Expert program in 2016 anticipating he would learn about cooking healthful food, handling food allergies and how to make better decisions about ingredients – and was surprised and delighted when he discovered the program offered much more than he bargained for.

As a former pre-med student, Michael was impressed with the scientific inquiry of the program that taught him how to use nutrition research and understand the root causes of many common health conditions along with practical skills such as meal prep, menu planning, pantry organization, and more. Michael also appreciated the various opportunities to connect with others in the program, from the livestream classes to communicating one-on-one with his program coach and exchanging resources and ideas in the private Culinary Nutrition Expert community.

“The course is so perfectly balanced between all the different aspects and covers many different bases,” he says. “It gives you a huge amount of info in a short amount of time.”

Juggling part-time work, two young boys at home, and the course work was challenging, but his family was excited to lend support and came along for the ride. Michael’s wife, originally from Argentina and an accomplished home cook, grew up using fresh ingredients so the Culinary Nutrition Expert-style of eating wasn’t a stretch for her (she even began a series of Spanish-language healthy cooking videos with their kids). Their children eagerly became part of the process and are now enthusiastic ambassadors for healthy eating.

“Taking this course taught me the skills to make almost all of my own food,” he says. “Between my wife and myself, we strive to make almost all our food from scratch.”

When Michael started the program, he wasn’t sure how he would end up using the education professionally. As the weeks progressed, the creative sparks began flying.

“Module by module, I started to have these creative brainstorms and more food business ideas,” he says.

Nine months after completing the program, Michael quit his job to pursue them.

Establishing Consciously Kosher and becoming a food writer

becoming a food writer

“I love to write and share what I know,” he says. “The writing wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken this course. The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program led me to my greatest passion, which is food journalism.”

As Michael began developing business ideas, a common theme arose: there was a gap in health services, information and resources that spoke to the Jewish and kosher community, as well as those interested in conscious eating.

“There’s a perception that kosher food is cleaner or healthier than non-kosher food. But that’s not necessarily true,” he points out. “More than 41% of all packaged food items in the USA are certified kosher. So that leaves a lot of potentially unhealthy foods on the shelves and in people’s homes.”

Michael has always loved writing. The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program’s content creation assignment, which requires students to write an article for the publication of their choice, inspired him to pursue the dream of becoming a food writer and begin his website, Consciously Kosher.

Through Consciously Kosher, Michael shares how to eat a kosher diet packed with nutrient-dense, unprocessed whole foods. He offers recipes, recommends brands and local businesses, highlights food producers, food experts and farmers, reveals meal hacks for busy people, writes guides for specific Jewish holidays (like this Passover e-book) and shares his vast culinary nutrition knowledge with readers to help them simplify kosher eating. Since establishing Consciously Kosher in 2019, Michael has written over 120 blog posts.

In addition to Consciously Kosher, Michael writes for wellness brands and health blogs, while contributing to local publications like The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.

Michael has big plans for Consciously Kosher. He’ll continue sharing advice and telling the stories of influential people in the food space, but he also wants to create an online education portal where people can find kosher food guides, discover products he vets, and eventually create and sell his own line of kosher products.

“I love to write and share what I know,” he says. “The writing wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken this course. The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program led me to my greatest passion, which is food journalism.”

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