The ‘food’ hashtag on Instagram has over 90 million entries: there’s no doubt that documenting your meals is here to stay. However, is it a trend worth embracing, or should we shun those who dare whip out their phones at the dinner table? Emma Forbes and Britta Zeltmann investigate both sides of the issue.
FOR by Emma Forbes
Let’s discuss the widespread phenomenon of instagramming food. We have all heard of it and many of us take part in it, posting pictures ourselves (I know I do). Unfortunately, the instagramming of meals has received a fairly unanimous negative response, with blogger Katherine Markovich vocalising the widespread belief that people, ‘really, truly, absolutely, do not care about you or your food’. However, I would suggest that Markovich and others would do well to unfollow those that post images of food, if they are so fiercely opposed to it.
As someone who’s interested in food, I enjoy scrolling through food posts and taking inspiration from other people’s ideas to spice up my own meals. Sharing recipes creates a culture of giving to others without expecting anything in return. This goes against the normal attitudes of our society and builds a sense of community between users. Compared to many of the other trends of our generation, I think that the instagramming of food is admirable. I would rather see less selfies on my news feed and more people sharing their creativity in the kitchen, proving that they care about what they eat more than about reflecting their own narcissism.
There are many problems in our consumerist society, including rising obesity rates and people living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles. In my opinion, it’s about time that healthy became the new ‘trendy’. Many may turn and laugh, describing this food trend as ‘hipster’ or ‘alternative’. Well, let them laugh. If being alternative means to eat healthily and care about the food that we put into our bodies, then great!
There’s the argument that food tastes worse if you instagram it first. By building up expectations, when you actually take a forkful of your artsy dish, you are left dissatisfied. However, personally I have never experienced this sense of disappointment and feel that taking pictures of food actually enhances the eating experience. This is backed up by research which has been published in the Psychological Science journal. It claims that ‘rituals enhance the enjoyment of consumption because of the greater involvement in the experience that they prompt’. A person’s sensory perceptions are heightened by arranging food in artistic compositions and sharing the images with others. There’s nothing wrong with embracing the instagramming food trend, as it is sociable, helpful and creative, while promoting a healthier lifestyle to boot.
AGAINST by Britta Zeltmann
Whatever happened to ‘no phones at the dinner table’? Today, it seems as crucial to place your phone by your plate as it is your knife and fork – we no longer keep them near in fear of missing a beat, but because we simply MUST show the world what we eat. Instagram has created a world whereby making people jealous is the aim and tugging on the hunger strings of your open-mouthed followers proves to erupt that envy in every form possible. There’s just a few simple rules to follow.
Rule no. 1: ANYONE can do it; Instagram quite literally has no boundaries. Unfortunately this gives many a licence to cross the line between creating tasteful food erotica with downright smutty porn – I’m referring to the ‘fast food filterers’ among us, who deem it not only appropriate, but necessary to show their artistic take on all the Big Macs they can find.
Rule no. 2: It doesn’t need to taste or smell nice to stand out on our news feeds. A handful of lettuce leaves on a rustic chopping board, accompanied by the hashtag #motivated, is enough to make us yearn for their #willpower and #healthylifestyle (note the convenient absence of #hobnobs presumably consumed directly after the lettuce). If the photograph is of homemade produce, all the better! If we’re going to boast about our food, why not boast about the lifestyle it follows – nothing quite beats something we ‘rustled up’ ourselves before ‘grabbing a quick Starbucks’ en route to pilates – surely?
Hashtag foodporn Rule no. 3: Finally, you must ruin the eating experience for yourself and your fellow diners by taking out your phone at any opportunity. You don’t need to worry about enjoying the ambience of a restaurant, the company you’re with, or even appreciating good food like the olden days. All you need to do is select a filter that best compliments your food, making it appear more expensive than it probably was.
Alexandre Gauthier, chef at the French La Grenouillere, listed as one of the 100 best restaurants in the world, sadly does not agree with the above. He is a strong believer that “there’s a time and a place for everything,” and has banned photography in his restaurant. So if we’re going to photograph our food, maybe we should do so less publicly. We should portray a more realistic representation of what we eat; find a middle ground between Maccy Ds and Michelin Star, and most importantly, refrain from gratuity. Tweet what you really eat, not a pretentious representation: no-one’s fooling anyone by pretending to dine at a gourmet restaurant every night.