Food is a very serious issue these days… if we take it seriously.
In some parts of the world, food scarcity has condemned entire populations to poverty and malnutrition is keeping infant mortality rates scarily high. Climate change will increasingly impact on costal areas such as Bengal, with sea levels rising and salt-water intrusion affecting agriculture and forcing millions to migrate.
In more familiar parts of the world, we are getting fatter and fatter; food waste is no longer a scandal and we are enjoying a food culture that has taken centre stage in invading every aspect of social life. The actual act of eating has become secondary and is often the very last step of a complicated, ritualistic process. We seem to eat with our brain more than we do our taste buds:
Have I posted sumptuous images to dazzling Instagram feeds? Check.
Counted the calories and dissected the ingredients list? Check.
Considered the wrath of urban food legends and the trendiest nutritionist bloggers? Check.
And it goes without saying that we’ve confirmed the sourcing of our organic avocado and gluten-free granola. Bon appétit!
We are what we eat and we seem all caught in a constant battle between #indulgent and #healthy. Unicorns with rainbows on cupcakes and honey drizzled on pancakes (don’t forget #flatwhite) are just some of #foodporn’s icons. Alternatively, ‘wellbeing’ and ‘clean eating’ have become mainstream phenomenon in big cities globally – with more consumers buying into the ‘health is the new wealth’ trend.
This impact can be seen within the fashion and beauty industries, as they have begun to slowly break a few ancestral taboos by celebrating uniqueness and diversity over the adherence to ideal body-size standards. From London to Hong Kong, we appear to be savvier to the relationship between maintaining healthy habits as crucial to body and mind development.
All of the above is at an extreme amongst Millenials and Gen-Z. It is a cultural sensation, if not an obsession, that is a key part of their social identity. Their decisions made in shopping and dining experiences are linked to social, aesthetic and ethical elements. Taste is almost secondary. Until, of course, the day when smartphones develop a flavour camera and ‘Tasteagram’ will become the next big app.
Is this simply part of Western culture evolution… or there is more? Will the situation escalate, causing unexpected consequences? Can we afford to play with food? Are we taking food so seriously that we have become a parody of ourselves?
As much as this article may put smiles on our faces, it portrays quite clearly the fine lines between trendy, ridiculous and almost dangerous in contemporary food culture. All live in a space of extremes and have irreversibly impacted what we consider to be normal. The blurring of these lines seem to be obvious to an increasing number of talented creatives, who are likely to further explore and redefine these boundaries in the near future. So, look out #instafoodies, in the long run you may just fall short of your happy ending in the world of #foodporn.