About Melanie


* Freelance writer for publications including the New York Times, Men’s Journal, Fast Company and CBSNews.com.

* Former staff reporter for the New York Times covering the food industry

* Former senior writer at Fortune magazine

* Lives in Honolulu, HI with husband Rich Barone and their two sons.


My Story:

Despite never having taken an economics course in college, I started my career as a business writer. Somehow, I managed to get a job at Fortune magazine and worked there for seven years. It was a fantastic place to work, full of smart, creative, ambitious people. Mostly I was in New York, but for a few years I lived in San Francisco and covered the Silicon Valley dot com boom of the late 90s. I wrote about startups and Sand Hill Road venture capitalists, many of who at the time still regarded themselves as members of a clubby enclave and shunned national scrutiny.

In 2004, I took a job at the New York Times covering the food industry. I’d always been fascinated by the business of food, amazed by the industry’s innovation and wealth of choices it yielded. I was also struck by how little we knew about where our food comes from. At the time, we knew a good deal about what happened on the large industrial farms responsible for produce so much of our food. But almost nothing was known about what takes place after that, inside the factories and research labs of the food industry. The idea for writing Pandora’s Lunchbox crystallized when I went to the Institute of Food Technologists trade show in 2006. This is the place ingredient companies go to sell the multitudes of ingredients you see on packages at the supermarket. Companies were selling microparticulated whey protein, inner pea fiber, and products for “cheese application needs,” and it seemed our food production had become far more technical and complicated than we realized, with “food technologists” not so much cooking food as engineering it.

It was a few more years before I started writing Pandora’s Lunchbox. Life intervened and I left the Times to move to Boulder, Colorado with my husband, where we had two amazing boys. After plunging myself into motherhood for a year, I started freelancing and have been doing so ever since. In 2015, my husband got a job in Honolulu so we left the mountain views of Colorado for the ocean paradise of Hawaii.