Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Letter From the Editor: Has the Foodie Craze Run its Course?

Opinion

Back in the days when Time magazine was found at every grocery store checkout line, we knew when a trend or topic was about to be history. It was when it appeared on the cover of Time magazine. That usually meant it was over.

The only thing we have remaining like that is the cover of Sports Illustrated, where the appearance by your favorite athlete usually means he or she about to experience a career-ending injury or arrest for spouse-beating or drug-running.

ReplicatorBut I wish there were other indicators out there for telling when these popular trends have run their course. I have now come to accept that I am beyond the demographic that decides such things, which leaves me questioning whether my judgment is based on what I can see happening or just on what I might prefer.

I am beginning to detect signs that the broadly defined Foodie trend has hit a wall. My guess comes at a time when the National Restaurant Association says that more dollars are being spent eating out than eating in. And my email traffic dedicated only to Foodie interests seems to be peaking.

It makes me wonder if there can be enough reader interest in all that’s generated for the Foodie audience. My concern comes just as I am noticing the Foodie dominance in social situations may be waning. For example, I’ve noticed that one Foodie in a group is no longer enough to sway table conversations toward food, and I’ve even seen some attempts to photograph food items slapped down.

It feels good to know I wasn’t the only one who felt silly holding up a plate of food for someone’s photo shoot. Nor am I unique in caring less about hearing about some chef’s biographical details or when some item last appeared on the menu. Or, blah, blah, blah.

Foodies themselves, however, will determine if and when they want to let this trend go. For now, they are probably just going off on their own wondering what happened to their influence on larger groups. Eventually they will decide if something else is more important to them. While we’ve seen this fixation on food for the past decade or so, in the future it’s very possible food choices will become clear and distinct without all the talk.

Future dining might be more akin to being aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise where the replicator will provide you with exactly what you want, even if you had it yesterday. None of the current obsession with menus will likely survive.

More simple, straightforward and efficient food decisions would leave a lot of extra time for other things — like Foodies could get a life. But if they don’t, we will have to live with that, too. It’s just that if Foodies find some other hobbies, my time would be freed up.

As it is, too much of my day now is spent reading press releases that appear to only be directed at Foodies. Public relations people seem to think that Foodies find everything interesting. As much as I try to explain that Food Safety News is only interested in information with a (guess what?) food safety angle, we are unable to get our message across to enough of them to make a dent in the problem.

We sort of did this to ourselves. When planning for the startup of Food Safety News six years ago, somebody suggested a “Foodie” category. While I had, at that point, been involved in food safety for 10 years, I had to ask what they were talking about. I learned what a Foodie is, but we have since dropped it as a label to categorize stories since it was getting little use in our world except in the incoming mail.

Nice people write us every day with items that have nothing to do with food safety, although they might interest the Foodies in our audience. Last week, I learned that Emirates Airlines moved 50 tons of cherries from Seattle to Dubai last year. Wow, that’s a lot of cherries!

If there was any food safety angle whatsoever, we might have shared Emirates’ role in moving cherries about the globe with our readers. But it’s all good, so it is not a Food Safety News story.

New product announcements come in at the rate of several per day. The typical American grocery store carries about 45,000 separate products. Foodies must love reading about new products. For example, last week came the announcement of the world’s first organic tea-based frozen novelty — DeeBee’s SpecialTea Foods Ltd. TeaPopsTM.

This product is now available in the U.S. and is certified organic, kosher, non-GMO, peanut- and nut-free and also gluten-free and vegan. However, it is not known to be causing any food safety problems, so it’s not for us. Did you know that only about 11 percent of new products are a success in the marketplace? See, if we had the job of filling Foodie heads with endless facts, we could do it!

We’d love to share other interesting Foodie stories like the opening of the Daily Table in Dorchester, MA, a nonprofit selling groceries short of shelf life in an experiment to cut food waste. Daily Table provides offerings literally from the dumpsters of Trader Joe’s with donations from those highbrow markets and food wholesalers. Maybe it will eventually do something for the food waste in the National School Lunch Program.

But we wouldn’t want to suggest Daily Table has food safety problem, so it’s not our story.

We do try and read all these press releases clear to the bottom to see if there is a food safety story lurking in there somewhere. But when it is primarily just Foodie news, we leave those stories for others to tell.

Foodies should not become discouraged. Lots of hobbies are less popular than they once were. The hard part is just learning to keep your mouth shut. Nobody wants to talk about a hobby that’s fallen out of favor. I had to learn that when it came to model railroading and rocketry.

© Food Safety News
  • Jack Menaker

    Dan, Model Railroading has NOT gone out of favor. It’s still very popular although the demographic for the hobby has aged.

    • LouWho

      I’m with Jack. Not on the age thing, just that railroads are cool.

  • Anne Stone

    I don’t think that it is diminishing. I believe the increase in eating out is a reflection of the food industry hearing the wants and desires of foodies. I stopped eating out for a significant period of time. Now, we are being offered gluten free options at restaurants. When I dine, I ask if they can substitute butter for a different type of oil. Many of the places I dine are accommodating and I have found a few ethnic restaurants that cater to my specific diet. Paleo is more and more available. The increase in dining is attributable to restaurants listening. If they don’t, they get passed over to those that do. I am excited more than I ever have been.

  • D. R. Stern

    I think I am an amateur Foodie, but find reading Food Safety News daily and checking our local Heath Department restaurant inspections a must.

  • JM

    What a condescending article. Because someone has an interest in broadening their view of food and want to experience new foods, they get labeled as a Foodie. Then the editor here says they should shut up. Sounds like someone is just mad people have been sending potential stories to the wrong outlet, and the editor is throwing a public hissy fit.

    I guess Food Safety News folks should just shut up about salmonella or heavy metals contamination. It’s a passing fad. Time magazine has run articles about food safety, so I guess food safety is over. Please prepare to shut down your website. Food safety is a dead subject. See how dumb that sounds? I don’t think expansion of tastes, experiences, or cultures in food is going to stop. The editor seems to think we’re going to go back to the days of boiled potatoes and beans for dinner every day. It’s not going to happen.

    Every subject has bossy know-it-all types that try to push their ideas onto others whether they want to know about them or not. Many of these people are in the second wave of these movements as they try to show that they know more than others. The “Foodie” movement is more of a expansion of the American consciousnesses that other foods and cuisines exist. That genie is out of the bottle. No amount of griping by the editor of Food Safety News is going to put it back.

    • AikeMoto

      Very well put, JM!

  • LP

    Victory Garden; Edible Feast is the only “foodie” I can stand these days. And, I would call it more of a DIY show. Dan, I hear ya.

  • a

    Glad to see mention of decision fatigue. I agree that the future will probably usher in a decreased priority for making these kinds of luxury decisions.