I work in public relations. I classify groups of people and then determine the best way to communicate with them for a living. Literally, it’s my job. But I hate being classified.
Technically, I’m a Millennial. But I refuse to think every Millennial-based stereotype applies to me.
And, yes, my voter registration card technically identifies to which party I belong. But I seriously dislike the idea of taking a hard left or right.
And, sure, I love food. I love shopping for it, preparing it and, most of all, eating it. I think about food for a large portion of the day. I read about it, talk about it, pin about it, ‘gram about it.
I’m interested in where it comes from, how it gets to me and how it’s made. I think about the nutritional value, and how much of it is lost when I cook. But does that make me (*cringe*) a “foodie?”
Wikipedia defines a foodie as someone who “seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger.” Or, as Adam from GIRLS would say:
“Do you eat for fun or for fuel?”
Well, I’m sorry, but I identify with a little of both. OK, a lot of both. Is it acceptable that I’m both really hungry and really excited to eat at the same time? There are a million reasons (less than a million) why I have an obsession with food. Don’t classify me. This “foodie” word needs to just go away. Here’s why:
1. The word itself is infantile.
While the term was likely created as a way to describe aspiring epicureans, trying to distance itself from a word that evokes a certain level of food expertise and, dare I say, snobbery, “foodie” is no better. To a true epicurean I’m sure it’s shudder-inducing and childish.
2. It’s not ambiguous enough.
“Foodie” puts food lovers of all shapes and sizes into a tiny little box. Don’t try to define a complex, ever-evolving, multifaceted food culture with one. little. word.
3. It’s far too ambiguous.
Since a “foodie” is food-obsessed, some might expect he or she to be extremely health-conscious and environmentally friendly, must have an extensive knowledge of food and food culture and, obviously, read the Food section of the newspaper (unless, of course, that section has been rolled in to the Lifestyle section).While it’s possible that one person possesses all of these traits, it’s an extreme generalization to think that every food lover loves food for the same reasons.
4. It breeds a subculture of self-righteous eaters.
Of course, a “foodie” will only eat heritage, grass-fed, free-range or, alternatively, wild game. Anything else would be ridiculous – right, Gwyneth? But seriously, I’m a sucker for quinoa, kale, Greek yogurt, blueberries and almond butter which, apparently, some people find pretentious. The “foodie” culture has made it so. We should absolutely care about what we eat and where it comes from, but it should by no means come with a side of entitlement.
5. If it offends someone, it could offend anyone.
Now, I know this rule is hard to follow. And it doesn’t apply to all situations. When society comes up with a cutesy term for a cultural demographic, it’s hard to shake it – I mean really hard. (Don’t even get me started on the “mommy blogger” debate.) But the bottom line is that if we as communicators are trying to appeal to a cultural subgroup, we should abolish the use of any word that could potentially offend or misrepresent. It’s as simple as that.
For PR professionals, “foodie” represents the curious culture of the food-obsessed. It helps us as communicators to classify those publics who might take an interest in certain things, subscribe to a certain way of thinking. But it’s a starting point, not an ending point.
Who are we really trying to reach? Someone who loves the cultural exploration that food experimentation allows? Someone who is passionate about the sourcing and sustainability of the items on supermarket shelves? Someone who simply loves the adventure of creating – and then devouring – a mouthwatering masterpiece?
So, when tempted to classify someone as a “foodie,” just don’t. Surely, we can do better than that.
The opinions in this blog post are my own, and are not necessarily reflective of those of PadillaCRT as a whole.