“I’m a food writer, and I want to give up Instagram for 40 whole days” — said no one, ever. And yet, here I am. Continue reading to find out why.
If, per Julia Child, “people who like to eat are always the best people,” then it stands to reason that those who like to talk about food in addition to, well, consuming it are even better, right?
I sure hope so.
Because after two stints abroad in France, a formative (and very muddy) week volunteering on an organic farm, a whole lot of time pouring through the words of Dan Barber and Michael Pollan, and now a full time job in the meal kit industry, food pretty much consumes me — but sometimes not in the best way possible.
But before we get into the less-than-perfect side of the industry, let’s talk positives, shall we?
what I love about working in food
More than ever, millennials are cognizant of what they’re putting into our bodies. They understand that while the eponymous maxim, “you are what you eat” holds true, so too does the notion that “you are what you eat, eats.” Sustainable, responsible, biodynamic, humane, organic, non-GMO… the list goes on and on (and on).
Millennials vote with their dollar, and speak with their fork. Meals are not a means to an end; they are the main event. And food is far more than a passive vehicle for satiating hunger. It’s a way to nourish, to sustain, to energize, and to bring people together in a world where so many things tear us apart.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also address the critical role that technology and social media play in this shifting food environment. Not only is there increased visibility around what others are eating and how they’re eating it, but there are also apps with which to discover new foods based on dietary restrictions, browse ingredients by season, and decode nutrition facts labels.
Although there is infinite more work that needs to be done to disrupt the food industry, pave the way towards increased transparency, and expand the conversation around wellness to the masses, we’re at a critical hinge point right now – and I feel beyond humbled to play even an infinitesimally small part in the dent that is being carved.
But, as everyone knows, there are two sides to every story – which leads me to…
what I don’t love about the food industry, and why I decided to give up Instagram for lent
It comes as no surprise that we demonize certain foods (lookin’ at you, gluten, dairy, and soy). And while this can’t be pegged directly to millennials – after all, we can thank gen x-ers for their antiquated views about fat – the ripple effects of doing so in the 21st century are perhaps more apparent thanks to our good old friend, social media.
Although it may be advantageous, even necessary, for some to kick these foods to the curb, it certainly isn’t for most. But the thing is, when the supposed benefits of doing so are promulgated across the Instagram world by influencers – most of whom are under the misguided impression that they have the credentials or the knowledge to dictate what others should or should not eat – people listen. And they eschew certain seemingly culpable ingredients or follow certain diets to lose weight, clear acne, increase energy, help hair grow faster, or achieve the slew of other ideals that seem achievable when viewed through a filtered screen.
And the ironic thing about it all is that I may just be contributing to the very phenomenon I’m criticizing, because after making the intentional decision to eliminate sugar from my diet about two years ago, I wrote about my thought process here on the blog and for the wider world to read on mindbodygreen.
Was the fact that I was speaking solely from personal experience make it better? And that what I was writing about was backed by research? If even one person was influenced in a positive way by what I said, did that make it okay?
Or did I feed into the classically American, “all or nothing” mentality by adding another ingredient to the bucket of foods that we’re told to STOP eating?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that when you spend so much time absorbing everything the social media world has to tell you, it can become suffocating. And what may start out as a genuine attempt to improve your health by way of food can become a slippery slope into extremes.
But what I also know is that social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and that it’s not all bad. There is value in the inspiration that can be gleaned from the platform, which is why my end goal isn’t to give up Instagram entirely. The hope is to eventually return from my short hiatus with a renewed sense of calm, clarity, epicurean balance, level-headedness, and overall mindfulness when it comes to the use of technology.
Not to mention the fact that the world is an incredibly beautiful place, and what a shame it would be if I spent so much time looking at it through a filtered screen.
So who’s with me?
READ MORE: what France taught me about mindful eating