Christina Cooke is associate editor at Civil Eats, a daily news source covering the American food system, and a freelance magazine writer who writes about people, place, cultural phenomenon, travel and outdoor adventure. She also teaches writing courses at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
In her work with Civil Eats, Cooke covers issues related to factory farming, antibiotic usage, workers’ rights, and immigration and edits the stories of contributing reporters, which address food and agriculture policy and practices with an eye toward social justice and environmental sustainability.
As a freelance writer, Cooke finds herself drawn to tell stories at the fringes of society, about people who are offbeat and unconventional, passionate and obsessed, and masters of their own, very specialized domains. She has written about an old-school book scout for The New Yorker, Portland’s naked bike ride and the concept of repair cafes for The Atlantic, the love lives of captive African penguins for The New York Times, pilgrimages to lost Smoky Mountain cemeteries for Oxford American, a quality-obsessed cartographer for High Country News, by-hand custom shoemakers for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine, and the concept of Missed Connections for Willamette Week. Cooke hopes her writing makes readers curious about people and places they might have overlooked before, puts faces on complex social, cultural, and environmental issues and deepens her readers’ understanding of their connections to one another and place.
Before striking out on her own, Cooke worked two years as a staff writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Tennessee covering K-12 education and such topics as school board decisions and teenage pregnancy. She won the newspaper a first-place award from the state press association for the breadth and quality of her coverage.
Cooke holds a BA in English from Davidson College and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Portland State University, and she studied in the documentary writing program at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. She teaches interviewing and nonfiction writing courses at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
In 2007 and 2008, Cooke lived and worked in Torres del Paine National Park in the Chilean Patagonia, at the far southern tip of South America, where she immersed herself in the Chilean culture—all the while, keeping a travel blog called Out to See, which she still maintains today.
She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, dog, cat, and two chickens, where she spends her spare time riding her bicycle, running trails through the woods, and sitting around the fire pit in her backyard.