• Kaitlyn Parrow

How Instagram Changed Food and How We View It

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Let me give you a little scenario: you’re at the hot new brunch spot that just opened up nearby and you order your favorites — a latte and avocado toast. You wait and wait until the waiter finally brings out your food and sets it right in front of you. But, what do you do now? Do you pick up your fork and dig right in? Or, do you whip out your phone, position your food perfectly, and snap a quick picture of it? At this point, you might as well add the perfect filter and post it on your Instagram story or quickly share it with a few friends. Sound familiar? Let’s face it, we’ve all done it at one point or another. Well, here’s how this little scenario and Instagram has changed food and how we view it:

"Instagrammable" Food

Using Instagram in our everyday lives has led to drastic changes related to food and the way we view it. For instance, “Instagrammable” foods are now a popular trend. Foods like vibrant smoothie bowls, fancy lattes, rich avocado toast, or over-the-top milkshakes fall under this category. Pretty much any food that has a certain visually appealing aesthetic can be deemed “Insta-worthy”. With social media users taking part in this trend, food posts on Instagram have grown massively — even to the point where there are accounts solely dedicated to taking pictures of and reviewing all the "Insta-worthy" foods.

Even if you’re not a person that explicitly follows food accounts, it’s pretty likely that you’ll come across some irresistible-looking treats. Whether it be on a close friend’s story or on your explore page, it’s bound to happen at one point or another. The food hashtag alone has over 400 million posts on Instagram. It’s basically gluttony for your eyes just scrolling through it!

You also might’ve heard the phrase, “phone eats first" as demonstrated in the first scenario. Basically, it means that your phone and social media get the pleasure of enjoying your food before you even get the chance to.

How Instagram Changed the Restaurant Industry

Instead of just worrying about how their food tastes, now restaurants need to consider how their food is presented in order to maintain an aesthetically pleasing look. They need to ask themselves the big question: will this dish look good on a smartphone camera? It doesn’t just stop there either. Restaurant’s interiors are being redesigned, menus, dishes, and cutlery are being rethought, and even lighting is being reconsidered all for one purpose: to make it more "Instagrammable."

According to the director of Tea Terrace, Ehab Shouly, "Millennials today form more than 50% of our customer base and we have to give them what they want. Today's customers want great food, great service, and great photos." Therefore, it is important for restaurants to cater to the needs of their customers.

Now, you may be thinking, well that’s just ridiculous that restaurants have to make all these unnecessary changes, but it turns out they actually benefit from them as well. Think about it: if you’re snapping a picture of your food and posting it on social media, surely people are going to want to know where you are. Some restaurants even offer small rewards like a discount or free appetizer if you make a post on social media and tag them while using their hashtag. So, always be sure to check social media or the restaurant for signs that advertise this, to snag a sweet deal!

How We View Food

Ultimately, Instagram has changed food, the way we view it, and the way restaurants prepare it. Instead of mastering flavors being the most important part of a meal, preparing a visually appealing, "Instagrammable" dish is equally just as important. Your phone does eat first, after all!

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