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Culinary Trends in 2017: Digital Foodscape

Thursday, 06/15/2017 09:47
Food and its related issues are one of human essential needs (what to eat, what to wear, and where to live).

Photo of Fast Casual

When the whole society thrives and living cost increases, human needs are pickier and more delicate. People don’t just need to eat or to wear but we all care about what we eat and how to dress. With Gen Z (people who were born in and after 2000) and other young generations, those essential needs have dramatically changed: instead of buying house, they spend money on travelling; instead of nice clothes, they wear stylist pieces; and instead of delicious food, they choose organic and healthy ingredients.

Because need of food is relentlessly changing, culinary trends of the world have altered to match. The big guys of processed food and fast food industry in the world have become less popular while small or family-run businesses have stepped up. Processed food (canned and frozen) and fast food are not convenient enough for consumers to choose over their health. They rather pay extra money to get fresh-cooked meals. More importantly, obesity (both children and adults) and other illness symptoms from dirty food have been spreading so widely that we have to seriously look at our choices of food. Nowadays, modern and urban consumers tend to go with environment-friendly products from small suppliers/producers, who are easier to track down their sources. Together with culinary trends, the term “foodscape” is getting worldwide with more understandable ideas and more useful applications for daily life. Foodscape is even considered as the language of Gen Z and, of course, people who catch and follow its new trends.

So, what is foodscape?

Foodscape. Photo of Artifex.Ru

This term was first defined by Anthony Winson, a Canadian sociologist, saying, “the multiplicity places where food is displaced for purchase, and where it may also be consumed”. Generally, where we come to buy food (markets, groceries), where produces or cook food (kitchens, restaurants, food factories), where we consume food (restaurants, cafeteria), or even a place where we sit and talk about food are our foodscape. 

When the need of food is looked differently - not for quantity but quality, not for filling up the stomach but enjoying dainty and healthy dishes, personal foodscape is so practical and it has real influences to our life. For examples, you live in an urban neighbor where locate a convenient store for instant and frozen food, a grocery store, a fancy restaurant, and plenty of fast food restaurants; so it’s highly potential that your daily meals are fast food from those places or you will cook with something from your neighbor grocery store. Another example is if you live in suburb, where has only one grocery store and daily or weekly farm markets, definitely you have to cook with fresh ingredients. When we really pay attention to our personal foodscape, we will clearly see the sources of our daily food and our food habits then we can recognize how good or bad that our choices of food affect our health.

Sociologist Anthony Winson has written critically about the vast amount of processed foods and fast food restaurants clogging Canadian and U.S. foodscapes (as well as arteries) – a tremendous market was dominated by convenient but unhealthy food, Reflecting on the so-called obesity “epidemic” all over North America. Consequently, healthy eating becomes the burden of the individual shopper who must learn to navigate their grocery store and neighborhood in search of healthy food.

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With justifiable and totally NOT new of consumers, digital foodscape was born and became a practical tool for modern housewives, busy officers, and gen Z – an enthusiastic and open-minded target to lead and spread the new trends. Digital foodscape is like a social network, where everyone can chat, raise questions, interact, meet, and connect to others basing on the only interests: food and its related issues. Topics can range from “what is the best milkshake in town”, “the X. bakery always delivers fresh bread at 4pm”, to “what fresh veggie you have on weekend”, and “how to grow organic lettuce at home”.

This is a great location where small and family-run businesses can directly contact consumers and consumers can be provided all real information without any commercial ads or ambassador faces. Good things should go viral very quick in digital foodscape (and so does bad experiences). In Vietnam, we do have some popular foodscapes, such as Foody or food blogs.

After a long age of industrial food, the empire of big food corporation is swinging when a new trend has risen from educated consumers. In the meantime, small and family-run businesses once again seize the chance to approach an unlimited amount of potential clients in an open space, to freely compete, and to relentlessly create new products. 

By Thu Pham

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