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Technology, Privilege, & Self-Branding: Why Millennials Are Obsessed With Foodie Culture
The trend of Millennials as foodies hasn't gone unnoticed in the snarky blog-o-sphere. This shot is from a gallery called "Hipsters Who Are Really Food Photographers in Disguise"

You’ll see it on Instagram, blogs, and YouTube – farmers market selfies, guides to organic produce, and clever hacks for cooking ambitious recipes in tiny kitchenettes. It seems like young people love to photograph what they had for dinner – no filter – and fixate over food culture. But why are Millennials so obsessed with food? Four years ago Eve Turow set out to answer that question and recently released her findings in the book A Taste of Generation Yum: How the Millennial Generation’s Love for Organic Fare, Celebrity Chefs and Microbrews Will Make or Break the Future of Food.

Peach pie for Jason's company bake sale. Hope it raises some money! A photo posted by eveturow (@eveturow) on Sep 10, 2014 at 5:30pm PDT

We spoke with Eve about her time spent exploring Milllennial’s foodie culture and she explains that the reason food is the subject of countless pictures and posts doesn’t really have anything to do with food, per se – it has to do with what food isn’t. Here's her view on a few key subjects. 

On technology:

Really the basis of it is, food is the anti-technology…I don’t really understand how my iPhone works, I don’t understand how the internet works, I don’t understand whether I’ve been hacked or not. There’s a whole other land of uncertainty that we’re raised with and Millennials are finding comfort in understanding what they’re eating, who it’s being sourced from and that can be the case whether you’re breaking down a recipe or you leave your job to become a butcher and break down a cow.

On self branding:

We grew up in this world where we had to manage multiple avatars of ourselves online, so you need to be someone else on LinkedIn than on OK Cupid than on Facebook than on Twitter and the upkeep of that, which is required, right? It’s required to get a job, required to get a date…the upkeep of that requires that we are constantly thinking about self branding.

Amazing #bento from a brand new startup in San Francisco. Look 'em up! A photo posted by eveturow (@eveturow) on Aug 20, 2015 at 2:14pm PDT

Eve says that foodie culture offers four things that Millennials crave - sensory input, social currency, community, and a form of control. Plus, it allows them to make sure that everyone knows they’re having they’re having a good time and eating good food – and if parents are any indication, it’s a message that’s rubbing off.

On parents:

And now my parents are familiar with like harissa… (that’s hot chili pepper paste). And that’s because of me that’s because they asked what I made for dinner last night and I tell them and explain it to them and now when we go out to eat they’re picking out things they probably wouldn’t have picked out before. You know, my dad wants to eat off the offal menu (that’s organ meat). I’m not really sure he would have done that before.

On privilege:

It is a privilege to be a part of foodie culture. So, I could have written an entirely different book that would be about Millennials who can’t afford a nice meal, or don’t know where their next meal is coming from because that’s a massive subset of this generation.

On Millennial buying power:

Millennials are one quarter of the US population and the way that we buy food, the way that we purchase overall is going to affect the us economy, is going to affect US trends and we’re seeing that reflected.

Sometimes I think: if I lived in California this could be every day... A photo posted by eveturow (@eveturow) on Jul 29, 2015 at 7:01pm PDT

On the future of food:

Agriculture and the environment is probably going to be one of the key issues that Millennials face in our adulthood. And so it’s fabulous that we have a growing population of people who are more and more aware of this. On the flipside, there is something that’s kind of superficial about the way that we’re interacting with food. Specifically I talked about this with Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain. You know, both of them really came back to me and said there really isn’t a better thing than for people to be interested in food and if people are learning about chefs and learning about recipes, even if it is on this superficial, self branding level, they are more likely to think about what they’re going to feed their kids. Whether that’s going to be organics, or fair trade foods but the real question is how do you bring more and more of those people into the fold to think a little bit deeper.

For Millennials, “you are what eat” takes on a new meaning. And don’t be afraid to jump on the bandwagon – this trend is probably going to last much longer than your new iPhone. 

What do you think? Are you a 20-something foodie?  What’s the attraction for you?  Or if you’re a parent of a Millennial, do you think they have a different relationship with food than you do?  Or do you think Millennials eat the same meals that you do – the only difference is that they post them on Instagram? Join the conversation taking place down below or on our Facebook page.  

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