Joe Pinsker: I want to start with a simple definitional question. When you say that young people are obsessed with food, what exactly do you mean and what are the best examples of this obsession?
Eve Turow: I think that a lot of people in our generation are thinking about, ‘What am I going to eat next?’ ‘Where am I going to go dine next?’ ‘What’s in the fridge and what can I put together tomorrow?’
I think that that’s expressed in social media. I think if an outsider were to come in and be like, ‘What’s your proof that people are actually interested in food?’ I would say, a) talk to anyone who lives in Brooklyn and b) go online. If you look at any of the statistics for Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter or Facebook: Pinterest, the food boards are the most popular boards. There’s a website that’s just foodporn.com where you can go look at food all day.
Then there’s the Food Network, there’s Chopped, there’s the food proliferation on cable channels. I think it’s the most obvious way, so that you’re seeing the user-generated content and then also the media market’s response to all of that interest.
Pinsker: Why has this happened?
Turow: I really think it comes down to technology, for a few reasons. One, is sensory deprivation. We have formed into a society that’s so accustomed to sitting in front of a screen and typing, for the vast majority of the day. And the truth of the matter is that it’s not exciting all of our senses. Through interviews over and over again, I kept hearing that people want something that’s tangible, that they can see and feel and smell and taste and that we’re the guinea pigs of growing up in that [digital] world.
At the same time, it’s also making us more isolated. We’re craving community. And food is also allowing us to access the globe, so we can find out what harissa is made with and how to prepare something with it, in two seconds on our phones.
Pinsker: You brought up the idea of community in your book and you quoted Michael Pollan as saying “The food movement is really a communitarian movement.” But there’s also a large group of people who are totally pleased cooking and eating alone and obsessed about food anyway. What’s that about, then? Is it that eating can be broadcast out over social media, so no one’s truly alone?
Turow: There are a few sides to this. First of all, there are probably going to be people who like cooking and eating alone no matter what generation they’re in. Another part of it is that one pleasure of cooking comes from breaking something down, feeling like you’re in control. We live in a time where we’re really not in control of very much. You can’t get a job, you can’t get a date without branding yourself properly on, you know, whatever app you’re using. You don’t really understand how the Internet works or how your phone works, but food is something you can break down. You can understand it, so you can have control over the final product.
More Info: theatlantic.com