Understanding the obsessive foodie culture

“Food has moved from physical necessity to the epicentre of constant attention through media, public opinion, and status,” write the researchers behind Food Thinking, a study of emerging food culture in European countries. “It has taken over the Western world, past the point of hype or trend and become a social obsession. Suddenly, everything is about food!”

Intent on discovering what’s driving the passionate interests, if not obsessions, with food, a team from the German design and innovation consultancy, Gravity, spent the past few months travelling from country to country, interviewing chefs and shoppers about their eating habits.

They “dumpster dove” with freegans, visited the lab at a molecular gastronomy pilgrimage site elBulli, and talked with emerging chefs in Spain and the UK. Food Thinking lays out their findings and insights.

The Gravity team threw themselves down the rabbit hole, pushing the prevalent trends in food culture to absurdist extremes. They have also come up with six concepts that “reflect what we saw during our research and give an indication [of] what food can look like in the future,” they explain.

The basic insight? “Food is no longer about physical, emotional, or even social needs. It revolves around self-expression and status.” Like any other mode of self-expression, it holds a mirror up to culture at large. Whether that means buying potatoes that correspond to your net worth on the free market, or getting to know the cow you plan to eat in a few months a little better.

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