Insta-Worthy Food Problems


Sam Cheng

A studio photo of several dishes. A two credit course offered next semester in Steinhardt is “Digital skills in Food Media.”

Drew Lederman, Staff Writer

A quick scroll through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook reveals a littering of pictures and videos featuring mouth-watering food. We have begun to label these professional photos of rich, delicious food in a surprisingly erotic way. This statement might seem shocking, yet the words “food porn,” “egg porn” and “dessert porn” are thrown around to describe the various food media.

Tisch junior Larissa Crafford-Lazarus was not suprised about the sexualization of food, because it is a common trend.

“Anything that has relation to pleasure is linked to sex,” Crafford-Lazarus said.

This eroticization of food has been turned into a very profitable industry. After all, sex sells.

Nigel Barber, who has a doctorate in biopsychology, said in Psychology Today that he believes that when nations become wealthy, their citizens’ interest in food declines with the ease of obtaining sustenance.

“All of that has changed in recent years,” Barber said. “As a nation, we have become more and more obsessed with food.”

Barber points to growing hunger as the main culprit of food obsession. He attributes this to the popularity of various fad diets, inactivity in desk jobs, insufficient fiber and a lack of a community to share meals with.

Literary food scholar Eve Turow theorizes that in our fast-paced digital world, many people use food as a universal, engaging activity for forming relationships.

“[Technology is] making us more isolated. We’re craving community,” Turow said in an interview with The Atlantic. “And food is also allowing us to access the globe.”

We can access recipes from every corner of the world from various time periods in our history. In this way, we are engaging with real people globally, across time and space.

Even though your feed is dotted with delicious food that connects its consumers, many people across the globe do not have enough to eat. With regular food shortages in other countries and the threat of climate change on agriculture, American food obsession is proving a roadblock for aid. Seeing our media covered in excessive high-end food reduces our conception that food is sustenance. This excuses food wastefulness in America and therefore shoves global food issues to the periphery.

South African-born Crafford-Lazarus believes that Americans take for granted the availability of food due to the uniquely powerful fast food industry in the U.S.

“The fast food culture is not nearly as big in other places,” Crafford-Lazarus said. “The marketable efficiency of food is less big.”

With our food obsession, it is easy to look at the abundant richness of our meals and write off the global issues of food distribution, food equality and food deserts. Yet, with more Americans recognizing the effects of recognizing food as a source of pleasure, community and globalization, it is possible to reduce the negative effects of food in the media.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 20 print edition. Email Drew Lederman at [email protected]