Generational Change in Food Choices Starting to Emerge

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • The world of food is in a state of change. And it seems like the younger generations – I know, I’m dating myself here – are really looking for a new relationship with food as they focus more on their health. Marketers, publishers, restaurateurs, grocers and television networks are taking notice. Whereas we thought it was a treat to go out for fast food when I was growing up (and when spaghetti was considered an exotic food), young people head to Chipotle’s, hang out at farmer’s markets, and embrace Sriracha. And these changes in taste are beginning to trickle down to teens and children. Here are some examples:

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    Exhibit A: A recent story in the Wall Street Journal points out that Millennials (the group that was born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s) may be losing their taste for McDonald’s. The fast food titan just reported its sharpest monthly decline in global same store sales since 2003. Furthermore, sales at restaurants that have been open at least 13 months in the United States were flat or declining for most of the last year. The Wall Street Journal’s analysis found that customers in their 20s and 30s are taking their business elsewhere as they search out healthier and fresher options and restaurants that let them customize their meals. Furthermore, the percentage of people who were between the ages of 19-21 who visited a McDonald’s in the United States monthly has dropped by almost 13 percent since the beginning of 2011. The percentage of people between the ages of 22-37 who visited these restaurants remained the same during this time period. In comparison, the percentage of people age 19-21 who increased their visits to fast-casual restaurants that offer fresher and healthier fare increased by 2.3 percentage points. There was a 5.2 percentage increase in these visits by people between the ages of 22-37. What the Wall Street Journal doesn’t point out is that many of these Millennials probably have young children so their choices of fast-food restaurants probably will be embraced by their kids. That should leave Ronald McDonald quaking in his boots.

     

    Exhibit B: A recent story on NPR pointed out that grocers such as Giant Eagle and Walmart are creating new, kid-focused sections of snacks. And suppliers are creating packets of vegetable snacks that have the flavor kicked up by add-in bold-flavored seasonings.

     

    Exhibit C: The Food Network has launched a new reality show, Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off. Yes, it’s reality television, but the kids who are cooking are really talented and they’re being judged by some respected chefs, such as the legendary restaurateur Wolfgang Puck and award-winning chef Alex Guarnaschelli. Some of these contestants have made fried rice with simple baked salmon and French dip steak sandwiches with horseradish sauce (and the recipes for both of these meals have earned five-star ratings on the Food Network website).These contestants also will serve as inspiration for children who haven’t thought about cooking.

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    Exhibit D: Some chefs and publishers are making it much easier for parents to cook with their children. For instance, back in 2004 noted Chicago chef Rick Bayless created a cookbook with his teenage daughter, Lanie. In it, they talk about cooking from their own perspectives and offer their own takes on flavors, cooking techniques as well as the trips their family has taken.  Another more recent option is a 2013 review of the best cookbooks, kids edition by the Food Republic. The blog is written by Shauna James Ahern, a cookbook author and spokeswoman for gluten-free eating. She discusses her favorite cookbooks that she’s shared with her five-year-old daughter during 2013.

     

    Exhibit E: Some communities are home to young chef academies and cooking schools specifically for kids. For instance, the Young Chefs Academy in Ohio offers experiences for children to tap into their creativity and discover new flavors. Examples of classes include homemade pot pies, homemade pizzas, and chocolate chip scones.

     

    All of this information is obviously good news for the future of foodies but also for the future of what we eat. Sure, more work needs to be done, but the current steps being taken hopefully will lead to healthier future generations for our nation.

     

    Primary Source for This Sharepost:

     

    Ahern, S.J. (2013). Year in review 2013: Best cookbooks, kids edition. Food Republic.com.

     

    Aubrey, A. (2014). Grocers lead kids to produce aisle with junk food-style marketing. NPR.org.

     

    Jargon, J. (2014). Millennials lose taste for McDonald’s. Wall Street Journal.

Published On: August 28, 2014