Food Porn: How Social Media has Changed the Way We Eat

Let’s talk about the rise of social media- honestly, what hasn’t it changed? The evolution of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and most notably Instagram have changed the way we interact and communicate with each other, view ourselves and our worth, learn new things, and many more. But have you ever considered how they’ve changed the way we eat?

The trend of posting aesthetically pleasing dishes has made food’s appearance more important than ever before (sometimes even more than the taste). Date-nighters scour through Yelp reviews and pictures before even considering calling the babysitter. Fans track down the exact juice bar Kim Kardashian geotagged because the Yuzu wheat grass smoothie just looked so 'tasty.' Hipsters find 'the dopest little unknown coffee shop' and post about it until it becomes the next Starbucks. People are being drawn to restaurants through word of mouth (or rather keyboard) on social media with delicious looking pictures. Essentially, social media has provided a platform for free marketing.

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This in turn encourages chefs and restaurant owners to creates foods that look exciting by adding microgreens, edible flowers, and lots of artificial food coloring (#unicornfood).

"Millennials today form more than 50% of our customer base and we have to give them what they want. Today's customers want great food, great service and great photos," said Ehab Shouly, restaurant director.

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Some argue that it has been taken too far and that the obsession with look has come at the expense of taste.

"It's led to chefs doing what I call 'cooking for pictures' - which is where someone will put a dish together without any concern for whether or not it actually tastes good, just as long as the aesthetic is right,” claims James Lowe, head chef of Lyle’s.

Additionally, certain hashtag trends, such as #healthy or #cleaneating, have promoted healthier eating habits through to the power of suggestion and peer influence. You could even argue that millennial obsession with avocados could be traced back to the influence of aesthetically pleasing dishes on social media.

Image Via: Square Space

Overall, social media has shifted the focus of food from taste to appearance. We no longer eat with our mouths, but with our eyes. We are no longer satisfied by the taste of our food, but by the number of likes we receive on our post. If only the calories were virtual, too!