If you've ever attempted to jump into Twitter, chances are good that you got overwhelmed by the onslaught of random information and jumped right out again. While Twitter can be a great resource, it can also be a colossal waste of time. The key is using a targeted approach, and one of the more useful tools in Twitterland is Twitter lists. A list on Twitter is simply a group of accounts that have a common theme -- "vegan restaurants in Boston," for example. When you use a Twitter list, you're effectively shutting the door on all the external chatter and stepping into a targeted conversation around something you're interested in.
You can make your own list on Twitter, but you can also subscribe to public lists that other accounts have already made. Once you're subscribed, you can pop into that list from your profile page, and it will give you a Twitter feed from only those list members' tweets. To get you started, here are some great, reputable public lists in the food and health categories:
Cooking Twitter Lists:
Top Chefs by Foodable: Get a daily dose of what's going on in the culinary world from this list of more than 450 chefs.
Food Magazines by Trendspottr: Despite the name, this list is more than just food magazines -- it compiles online food sections and recipe websites into the list, as well; the food pictures alone are worth the visit!
Slow Food Chapters by Slow Food USA: Slow Food is all about cooking more, taking time to enjoy food and emphasizing the use of local and regional foods.
Cooking and Kids by The Kids Cook Monday: An extensive list by this fun initiative, which is trying to encourage families to cook and eat together every Monday.
Food Bloggers and Writers by The Local Dish: A hodgepodge of food ponderings and recipes, from talented writers who you may have yet to discover.
Cooking for Solutions by Monterey Aquarium: This list contains participants from the annual "Cooking for Solutions" sustainable food celebration.
[Read: 8 Great Farmers Markets .]
Health and Nutrition Twitter Lists:
Nutrition Experts by Food and Nutrition Magazine: This feed is managed by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
Team No Kid Hungry by No Kid Hungry: These accounts are actively working to end hunger issues for children.
Cardiology Experts by The Mayo Care Network: The Mayo Clinic has become very active in social media, and even started the Social Media Health Network to encourage health care professionals to share their expertise through social media.
Celiac and Gluten Free by Celiac Central: The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has put together this helpful list of accounts that talk about Celiac disease or gluten-free diets.
Health News and Reporters by the American Diabetes Association: Not all the tweets will relate to diabetes, but the organizations on the list have passed the scrutiny of the American Diabetes Association as reputable.
Health and Human Services by USA.gov: One of the many lists that are offered by USA.gov related to a particular area of U.S. government.
Local Twitter Lists:
Lists that are tailored to your location can be a goldmine of local information. Here are a few examples of local food and nutrition lists:
Arizona RDNs/DTRs by The Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The organization maintains this list of credentialed nutrition professionals in their state who use Twitter.
Michigan Wineries by MichiganByTheBottle: Why not do a virtual wine tour of Michigan wineries? There's a list for that!
Mobile Munchies by New York Street Food: Be in the know on the New York City street food and mobile food truck scene by following this list.
Chefs in Kansas City by The American Culinary Federation: This is a nice list of Chefs in Kansas City, in preparation for their 2014 National Convention.
[Read: 5 High-Tech Cooking Gadgets .]
Melinda Johnson, MS, RD, is the Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and lecturer for the Nutrition Program at Arizona State University, and a Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Follow her on Twitter @MelindaRD.