Am I an Up-and-Coming Chef? Or Just a Follower of Food Trends?

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Berry. Kale topped with roasted tomatoes, feta cheese, sliced almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds, Everything but the Bagel seasoning, and two sunny-side up eggs.

My main goal for Winter Break was to consume as much delicious food I could shove in my mouth before I had to return to a more predictable palate of food at Connecticut College. If you have read any of my articles from last semester, you may have noticed a motif of food (what can I say: I like to eat).

I do not have my own kitchen on campus; somehow I make a mini fridge, nutribullet, tea pot, and part of my desk into my very own “kitchenette.” The lack of necessary kitchen equipment does not allow me to cook while at school unless you count smoothies and oatmeal as cooking. Thus, when I arrived home for Winter Break I immediately got to work cooking up a storm in my family’s kitchen, making lemon poppy seed bread, Nann pizza with mozzarella and tomatoes, delux avocado toasts with eggs and feta cheese, chickpea curry, and blondies (100% healthy eating is overrated).

As I have mentioned in a previous article, I manage a food account (@healthy_eclair) where I chronicle my noteworthy ‘recipes’ (really boosting my ego right now). As I scrolled back through my feed, I began to reflect on my on the meals I posted. For some, I followed recipes from my mom’s vast collection of cookbooks (which I must admit I do not take complete advantage of), but for others, I just took stock of what was available in our family’s refrigerator and cabinets to create oatmeal bowls, open-faced sandwiches, and kale salads with eggs. All of these combos were delicious (at least that’s what my mom says) and I enjoyed preparing and eating them. However, I couldn’t help but ask myself whether I was just following food trends taking over my Instagram feed (I follow quite a few food instagrams) or (to fluff my ego) was I becoming a pioneer of college-food ensembles?

I had a similar conversation with one of my best friends a few years ago over fashion trends. Due to the influx of social media platforms which constantly surround us, my friend and I wondered if we harbored our own fashion style or if we were just following the current trends? I am not saying that there is anything wrong with following trends - guilty is charged of owning mass amounts of scrunchies - but my question lingered along the lines of whether I even had a style or if I just bought what others were buying? Is there anything wrong with that? Junior year in high school resulted in many trips to Urban Outfitters where I bought lacy bralettes, off the shoulder sweaters, and skinny-ripped jeans. I have since put the majority of these items in the back of my closet, but sometimes I bring them forward (usually on a laundry day) and feel a bit repulsed by what I had once worn. I hate to admit this, but my mom was right: I don’t look good in off the shoulder shirts that really highlight my poor posture. In fact, in Sarah Larson’s article from Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts: Home Gourmet, “Food trends: Why do we follow them?,” she states that “Food is not that different than fashion. Those in power in the industry, be they celebrity chefs or heads of major food corporations, are the trendsetters. With good marketing, luck and the right taste, certain trends will make themselves known among the hoard of food options.” Food trends, like those in fashion, depend on money, marketing, and sometimes politics.

Now that I have become an avocado toast and kale salad enthusiast, am I losing myself in the food world, a world which I claim is so important to me. Or am I providing a new perspective on these trendy dishes? I want to think it’s the latter, but each time I photograph another peanut butter, banana, blueberry, and oatmeal combo I doubt my “unique” artistic touch.

In the John Hopkins Medicine article “Think Twice About Following Food Trends,” reviewed by Michael Joseph Blaha, M.D./M.P.H.,  Blaha explains that “Instead of focusing on a few healthy foods to eat, it’s much better to have a healthy eating philosophy that guides your decisions when you’re planning meals, grocery shopping or going out to eat.” Blaha goes on to say that “It’s better to ignore the hype about individual foods and instead try for an overall healthy eating pattern, like the Mediterranean diet.” While kale, chia seeds, and quinoa still fall under this diet, your focus should be more on a healthier diet, making sure you get enough fruits and vegetables, not believing every food trends that is currently hitting the market (for example the infamous celery juice that supposedly promises wonders).

I can’t deny that I am not a fan of kombucha, quinoa, and matcha lattes, but I also try to do my research about what is healthy for my body and make smart decisions about what I chose to eat, regardless of food trends that are being hyped. Nevertheless, sometimes it is hard to surrender to peer pressure (and aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts of a majestic unicorn bagel with cream cheese), but I think all we can do is try our best to remain true to ourselves (and our taste buds).