The latest craze on Instagram — #FoodPorn — has thousands of users snapping pictures of their beautiful food to share with all their followers.
The craze is even driving a new generation of foodies. The majority of millennials surveyed identify as “foodies,” according to Havas Worldwide, and given the choice between sex and an excellent dinner at a restaurant, 35 percent went as far as to choose dinner.
Havas’ Eater Digest report mused on some potential reasons for this obsession: “For younger people especially, food is a source of status and conversational currency. Dining in restaurants used to be a social experience because of the conversations one had at the table. Now the social interaction is just as likely to be online.”
The appeal of food, in other words, is moving from the physical realm to the digital. Millennials’ obsession with food stems from their ability to share photos with friends, hence the rise of #FoodPorn. But does a focus on looks detract from food’s taste?
On one hand, photographing food has been shown to make it more appealing and tastier to the photographer. However, #FoodPorn has also elevated food that can be aesthetically pleasing over that which is not—hummus, casseroles, and enchiladas can be delectable, yet are not photogenic.
#FoodPorn has also given birth to the types of food that are made to be photogenic, yet lack any special taste. The rainbow craze, for example, has struck everything from bagels to sushi, yet these foods don’t taste any different than their less-colorful brethren. Indeed, if you closed your eyes, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Despite some of the evidence presented, it seems unlikely that the propensity to photograph food will detract from the food’s taste. After all, a gimmicky rainbow bagel is simply that: a gimmick. Customers will only go once to see it, and the craze will pass. Plus, Instagrammers can use the food photography craze to promote things like ugly fruits and vegetables, and ultimately help solve the food waste problem.