Published on: March 19, 2014by Kate McMahon
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Today’s topic is food porn.
Five years ago I never thought I’d pair the words food and porn to open an MNB column, but the proliferation of food porn across social media has changed all that, particularly now that there is a push to make it healthy. Yes, we’re talking Brussels sprouts and beets being photographed and tweeted as sinfully appealing as Dense Rich Hot Fudge Oreo Cheesecake, a recent post on Food Porn Daily.
The Food Porn Index, a witty, interactive website designed to promote fruits and vegetables in Americans’ online food conversations, was launched last month and featured at last week’s Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington, D.C.
The bottom line: You Are What You Tweet.
The index has created an algorithm to track hashtags such as #carrots or #bacon of 12 healthy and 12 not-so-healthy foods on Twitter, Instagram and other social media, updating every 15 minutes and comparing the healthy vs. the junk food mentions.
Created by Bolthouse Farms, one of the largest producers of baby carrots and premium juice beverages in the U.S., the site shows the junk food dozen clearly in the lead 70.5% to 29.5%.
Since its Feb. 20 inception, the index has registered some 42,000 unique site visits. And for those keeping score, as of yesterday condiments led the unhealthy list with 28 million-plus mentions, while the overall term vegetable was tops in fruits and veggies category. The least mentioned? The lowly beet.
Bolthouse was motivated by a Harris Poll QuickQuery showing 55% of Americans said they ‘talk’ about food through social media channels. In addition, more than half of those agree that seeing images of fruits and vegetables on their social feeds motivates them to eat healthier. In comparison, 33% said images of junk food tend to make them give in to cravings.
These first figure confirms what I have observed anecdotally with the Millennial Generation – whether cooking at home or dining out, they love to snap and post photos of a decadent dessert or an In-N-Out double double with cheese.
All the more reason retailers and restaurants need to be aware of, and capitalize, on this growing trend. A group of esteemed French chefs, however, take exception to this notion, and have started a movement to ban smartphones from their restaurants. Their reasoning: amateur photographs don’t do the dishes justice, ruin the element of surprise in presentation, and the photo snapping annoys other customers.
But other restaurant owners find food porn to be great, free publicity – with more of a focus on the positive rather than negative comments on sites such as Yelp. For retailers, the food porn trend presents opportunity to showcase and promote locally grown produce, in-store prepared meals, baked goods, innovative presentations of just about anything that photographs well. You don’t even need a sophisticated social media department, but just good eye, a smartphone, and Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms.
Trying to stop people from taking pictures with their smartphones may be akin to trying to hold back the tide. Good luck. Better to embrace the trend and turn it into opportunity.
Unlike other kinds of porn, food porn can be about making connections, not isolating yourself. A food porn pic is a great conversation starter.
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- KC's View: