It's Time Restaurants Take Responsibility for Their Influence On Everything Ever
This is the era of Food Porn, Social Media, Super Foods, and Non-GMO's. As the baby-boomer consumer demand begins to drop and the millennial generation takes the driver's side we can see a huge shift in the economic balance of supply and demand. The supply and demand relationship is literally the equation that all restaurants should observe very carefully and if they did so something magical would happen in the world
Just like fashion magazines serve to act as an example for how the population should dress, restaurants serve as an example as to what people want to bring home to their very own kitchen tables. In the 1960's (The Era of The American Diner) every breakfast menu had scrambled eggs and bacon. As a child growing up in the 80s and 90s I can remember my mother creating that exact breakfast for my sister and myself every weekend. Did my mother do this instinctually? Or, did she learn this classic combination from the many experiences she herself had as a child while out to eat with her parents and friends? I think the answer is obvious.
Nowadays, food behavior is not just experienced and learned at meal time, but rather, it has become a social media phenomenon. 57% of all Pinterest is food related and most likely uploaded from a certain age range either eating out or cooking a meal at home that they experienced whilst eating out. The point is that restaurants are an example for what people should be eating. A study performed in 2013 deemed that 72% of all meals take place in the home and only 27% of all meals consumed take place at a restaurant. If restaurants declared that they would serve clean and organic food then that 27% would expand to 100% because people take what they learn in social settings and do it in private. Restaurants need to take responsibility for their influence on people’s consumption decisions right now.
The irony in it all is that the data is there. Consumers are far more interested in clean, whole, non-fortified foods than ever before. A major study conducted in 2010 revealed that 52 million adults suffer from high cholesterol, muscle and joint pain, heartburn or indigestion, diabetes, and osteoporosis and people are looking to food as their healing method before seeing a doctor. In addition, more than half of the US population claims to read food labels in order to avoid artificial chemicals. So, here is my question: If the consumer is creating the demand for healthy food then how are restaurants surviving without providing the supply?
My suggestion to this unanswered question would be that it is a mixture between temporary paralysis of consciousness and Murphy's Law. What do I mean by this? My good friend is a perfect example of someone who suspends healthy and conscious eating while going out to a restaurant. Joe (not his real name) is what I call a "generally healthy eater." He tries to eat mostly salads, avoids animal products, and enjoys a green juice here and there. However, when Joe's work buddies meet at the local bar for Happy Hour after a long day's work and the menu has "French Fries, Burgers, and Cheese Cake...all for a very low price," Joe chooses to ignore all the facts that he knows to be true about the food he is about to eat. Why does he do this? The answer is simple: because he can and so he will. It's Murphy's Law. The only obvious and immediate repercussion that Joe might experience is a stomachache the following day, but for anyone who remotely pays attention to important media sources knows that what you place on your plate extends far beyond the reach of your fork. Someone somewhere suffered for Joe's experience with his work buddies and eventually Joe's health will suffer as well.
What if that Happy hour served only healthy and conscious food? Since Joe is already a clean eater (Like most people as we can see) I hardly doubt that he would have any complaints. Eating out is so much more than just eating something. It is about being social and having human connection, which is essential to happiness (as we witnessed in Tom Hanks, "Cast Away"). Restaurants fear that if they begin cleaning up their menus and stray from what sells then they will go out of business. But, this mentality is totally backwards because people want healthy food and choose healthy food when in the privacy of their own home. People will not stop being social because we need that in life. Murphy’s Law can go both ways; if people have the chance to eat healthy they will!
People are looking to point fingers at many things to explain our planet and health issues. Is it the fault of Doctors? Insurance Companies? Monsanto? The Dairy Industry? I'm sure it is a mix between all of them, but if restaurants stopped purchasing and serving nasty GMO food and told their patrons they were doing so, I know that the same behavior would ripple effect throughout Everyman's personal consumer behavior. Pointing fingers and blaming are not effective ways to bring about big change. I think that changing our standard of trendsetters is the most proactive, effective, and efficient way to create a big impact on a more sustainable and healthy supply and demand in the world of food.
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