20-Something’s: Foodies Or Not?

20-Something’s: Foodies Or Not?

Note: Photo is of a homemade fruit tart I made, facetiously drinking my pinot noir. Multitasking 20-something who adores food and will throughout her entire life 🙂 Read on to get what I’m getting at.

The other day I tweeted (out of curiosity):

“Any 20-something food bloggers? My favorite, long-time food bloggers are 30-40 year-old-range. Just curious, seems that age is more common.”

An immediate response came from a local foodie up the way in Denver, stating:

I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I a 20-something foodie, but I’m also a food blogger and all of my friends love food. Also, the Italian in me took personal offense.

It was a blanket statements, merely an opinion (which by the way, he is completely entitled to) but up for a good debate and genuinely curious I asked him to dive a little deeper and to understand the reasoning behind his opinion. He noted that I might be an exception because in Boulder we had more options and organic/local is available to us.

Soon, other foodie 20-somethings chimed in disagreeing with him (from all over the country-here are just a few):

Wisconsin

Virginia

Boulder, CO

Denver, CO

Until he finally, stepped out of the argument, backing down.

I had many friends e-mail me and even tweet after-the-fact if they weren’t online during this conversation to question the topic or add their thoughts.

This Twitter conversation sat with me.

Are 20-somethings not known for their interest, adventurism and/or love in food?

I can agree that price or money might contribute to Gen Y not wanting to venture out or dine as much as the more established, Boomers or Gen X, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook, dine (less often, but still dine) or appreciate food. Expensive is not exclusively equated to good food.

Throughout your 20’s, you are often the most adventurous. You typically travel frequently. You take risks. You move across the country on a whim. You don’t have as much responsibility. All the above apply to me.

Digging deeper I found some interesting research showing how generations treat and understand food differently (and also oppose Jon’s opinion):

Gen Y is made up of a high proportion of food sophisticates who are willing to put in the effort to create healthier, more flavorful dishes at home and demand better fare from restaurants. According to Mintel, young parents are among the most enthusiastic shoppers at Farmer’s markets and food co-ops. (Mintel, “Local Procurement” Feb 2009).

So if you attend a family reunion or potluck this summer, pay attention to who brings what. Chances are, the Boomer will be the one with the potato salad and chocolate chip cookies, the Gen Y’er will be the one with the organic fruit and Asian curry.

To Dine At Home Or Out?

Talking with many friends and relatives with families, the way they dine is more for convenience, not at an expensive dining establishment (unless it’s a date). They noted looking for kid-friendly and relaxed atmosphere without a stodgy menu. It’s also an extra expense and hard to find food the kids like and a hassle, instead of just staying at home and cooking.

Jenn Sutherland, a 30-something food blogger based out of Chicago replied to me reinforcing a reason for the older food bloggers we see:

All of us 30-somethings are tired of going out, so we stay home in our kitchens!

The Times’ 50 of the world’s best food blogs is peppered with my absolute favorite bloggers, mostly past the age of 30. Is it because we’re busy pursuing our careers and don’t have time for the kitchen? We’re out traveling the world and job-hopping?

I know they’re out there but maybe they don’t put their foodie love to blogging love.

I reached out to 20-something foodies to ask what food meant to them and that at any age, we can have an appreciation for food.

Due to my age, I’ve recently learned to really appreciate food.  Being at this point in my life, a time in which I’ve ventured into the world on their own, I’ve discovered the true benefits and importance of cooking from scratch and have honed the necessary skills to do so.  I cook and bake out of necessity and for fun, finding joy in sharing the resulting dishes with my friends and family and also in furthering my passion for the craft.

-Kaitlin Flannery. Age 19. Michigan. http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/

I love food for the experience and for the function. I was raised in a health food household– we were more concerned with how the food made us feel and what it contributed to our bodies then how it tasted. As I matured and expanded my culinary repertoire, taste, look, feel, smell all became important, too. Now, the two are equally valued and I try to cook and consume foods that make me feel amazing and are delicious, fun, fabulous.

I think my age allows me to be experimental with food. I love to try new genres, modes of preparation, fusions, flavor profiles. In this way, I am inventing and reinventing what “food” means to me. Ever expanding, exploring, enjoying. Food, as with most topics twenty something, is a journey.
-Jodi Dey. Age 27. Colorado. @JodiDey

I value food for two reasons: nourishment and connection. The food that I eat is real food, as close to the source as I can find it. I do my best to seek out local produce, to cook with whole ingredients, and create meals and snacks that are not only tasty, but satisfying and nourishing. Food (real food) connects people. It connects me to local farmers. It connects me to the people I live with and eat my dinner with.

I think that this is a common sentiment among many 20-somethings. We’re trying to escape the processed-food culture in which we were raised and to move to a more wholesome, sustainable, and earth-friendly lifestyle. We may be limited on budget in this quest, but we’re not limited on creativity and ingenuity. In addition, we seek a deep sense of community. In order to fulfill this desire, we turn to food: we have people over for dinner, we go out to eat, we give food as gifts. Food transcends simple bodily necessity and turns into a vehicle by which we nourish our souls.

-Rachel Center. Age 23. Indiana. http://balanceandblueberries.wordpress.com
Closing Remarks:

Through the Twitter conversation, talking with 20-something foodies around the country and just advising my own foodie-life, I think:
  • Loving food and being adventurous about food isn’t related to one age group. This love can be apparent at any age.
  • Dining out and being adventurous could closely relate to if you’re single or married with a family. With three kids, you don’t dine at the high-end, adventurous, progressive restaurants you used to. Kids are picky. Kids cost more money. Kids are loud(er).
  • In your 20’s, typically, you might have less money or career stability than Gen X or Boomers, so you may not wine and dine as frequently. In your 20’s, we go through an average of 7 jobs. Money can play a factor (although expensive food, isn’t the only adventurous, delicious food). But, I digress…this could play into why Jon doesn’t see 20-somethings at the adventurous restaurants around Denver. Or age could be in the eye of the beholder and unless you go around and ask every person at the restaurant, you aren’t quite sure of the age difference between a 28 year-old and a 32 year-old.
  • In our 20’s we are curious. We are learning and establishing our world-view and opinion. I believe this closely ties into progressive food habits, organic, local, veganism/vegetarianism and travel.
  • Our Twitter conversation tied closely to restaurants/dining out and adventurous cuisine. Some of my favorite cooks like to eat at home and cook elaborate meals instead of dining out. Preparing, pairing and cooking food is a whole other conversation not just related to age.

Thanks to Jon for inspiring the conversation. I respect opinions and to each their own, of course. Although I disagree with him, and said so via Twitter, I also think it’s something to be discussed.

What do you think? Are 20-somethings less adventurous?