Opinion: Has foodie culture taken over our intellectual palates?

Ah. To Yelp or not to Yelp, that is the question. In today’s society, it would almost be unimaginable for “foodies” to not leave their amateur and often heavily biased review (opinions) about a restaurant they been to recently. 

Foodies, an all-encompassing new generational term that seemed to come into existence not long ago, have become a norm and the ultimate term of flattery for any person who identifies themselves as a fanatic about good food.

The question that should really be posed, in my opinion, is whether we, as consumers, are trapped in this wonderful yet dangerously addictive world of unpolished food writing? Should we be focused on checking up our next food destination based on popular opinions and self-interest-led ridicules? Are egocentric food journalists at works, and are they taking over our intellectual palates? The answer is a both a resounding yes and no. Food journalism, as with all sources of literature, needs to be accessible and personalized for the majority, but traditional media outlets are required if you want to retain the integrity of accurate and sourced justifications.

The reality of how information is obtained is through smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. As a result, people are growing accustomed to being incapable of obtaining their information from anything not coming out of an electronic device. A recent case study of Yelp provided the key stats for Yelp’s uprising, stating how its listings generated an average of 100k page views and seven per cent lead conversion rate per month. It is no surprise that food sites and blogs, with their quick and free capabilities, suppress any need and desire to read a professionally crafted review.

On the other end, Amanda Hesser, former food writer and editor at the New York Times, claim that the era of professional food writers and their earnings have drastically decreased. Therefore, it seems being a freelancer blogger can essentially be more profitable in many ways, making print media writing that much less attractive to the youth.

Photo from Shutterstock

Traditional media specialists such as Time out’s Gabriella Gershensonpoints out that “the shortened attention spans and white noise emanating from the increasingly crowded blogosphere also pose a challenge to the reportage of anything of substance and integrity.”

Marc Vetri sees social media as a threat to relevant food journalism because it forces writers, who are trained professionals with a high understanding of restaurant operations and dining essentials, to dumb it all down to provide a sensation and nuance to match the preferences of the trendy.

Isabelle de Solier poses a direct counter in her piece Changing tastes: why foodies are the new food critics. She points out how food journalism criticizing food bloggers and their inexperience is a contradiction in itself. Most bloggers and online reviewers are of the first bunch to enter newly-opened restaurants. Unlike paid professional journalists, they are not looking to build their careers on literary techniques and restaurant credentials. They are looking to tell what they experienced without too much thought because they can, and that is what people going to their blogs and sites are searching for. My feelings are conflicted; Vetri is right, but so is de Solier.

It makes sense that the reason behind food journalisms shift to the digital age is because of the difference in demand, but also how utterly desperate people need information promptly and immediately, without really minding the basis or source for the information. People crave to know about the latest restaurant openings, where the new hot spots for dining are, and often, where to get their hands on that delicious-looking morsel all their friends have been posting on Instagram.

Some food enthusiasts, aka foodies, would find my nitpicking to be worthless. Everything couldn’t be better, what’s the problem?

Gourmet magazines do not concur. Restaurant and fine dining connoisseurs do not either. They spent hours, days, years of their time in perfecting their craft, and to simply be put off by a new blogger, who writes with the popular slang and colorful language. For them, the sad truth about food culture and food journalism today is that people are more driven by desires for buzz than for perfect understanding. The older generation of food journalists consider these social media food know-it-alls to be enemies of intellectual food writing.

It is not true that they resent the bloggers and their intent to provide free food journalism: What they did worry about was how much this reflects the greater trend that today’s culture doesn’t value anything that’s free because nearly everything on the web is free. Those popular food blogs and food sites simply are not a complete review, detailing the service, the food, the ambiance, and overall, the entirety of the dining experiences.

In many ways, food writing has now become a gimmick for the average joe to express their unmerited food commentaries, a gateway for marketing ploys by corporations in collaborating with blogs and other popular net social media platforms deemed profitable. Still, it is evidently more rooted to be personalized and reaches more of an audience in 2017. It can also be in many ways, act as campaigns against mistreated food conducts such as in the case of Vani Hari.That being said, quality food writing needs to live on as an equalizer to balance things out, as a form of standardized and educated opinions, and with a code of ethics that needs to be taken seriously in any piece of journalism.

Be first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.