Working in a grocery store for about six years has allowed me to meet some interesting people. I’ve seen and heard more than I would’ve liked to, with a few rants being included in there. But a few customer rants I heard are still near and dear to my heart, like the one couple who came in, complaining about how “kids these days don’t get any good drugs anymore,” but I digress.
One rant I’ve heard several iterations of is that kids and young adults today don’t value food like previous generations have. And I can understand where these people are coming from, but I disagree. True, with each successive generation, our nation has fewer and fewer farmers, but just because raising livestock and crops is no longer en vogue doesn’t meant that we don’t value food.
Yes, it’s easy nowadays to opt for cheap, greasy fare; between fast food, Ramen Noodles or microwavable meals, simple dining proves to still be quite popular. However, it’s because of this generation that we’ve seen increased demand for healthier foods, grown and raised more sustainably.
I remember being in 11th grade and watching “Food Inc.” for the umpteenth time, becoming more and more privy to the vile secrets of the food industry. Sure, past generations had Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” but we had compelling (albeit disgusting) video evidence that chronicled horrendous living conditions of livestock, as well as how our diets have been coopted by corporations to be easier to produce.
Because of this access to information, our generation has been rendered food advocates and activists. Even though the anti-GMO movement is incredibly misguided and misinformed, it is comforting to know that people are curious about what they’re putting into their bodies and what they should eat to maintain optimal health.
It’s also nice to see people demanding better treatment of livestock (even if they are just going to be eaten later), and becoming more concerned about how food production impacts the environment, immediate and overall.
Think about gluten-free food options. A few years ago, it was ludicrous that sugar-free candy existed! Now there is gluten-free bread, among other offerings. We want to make sure everyone can enjoy something, even if they can’t enjoy the legitimate thing; hell, we even make soy that tastes like bacon so vegetarians can get in on the fun too.
Our generation is also the first to be obsessed with cataloging diets and taking pictures of meals and counting calories.
More people are learning to cook too, guys and girls, because people now fortunately realize that one of the most basic means of survival isn’t a gendered skill.
People are also more open to donating food and making food from other cultures, like Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh. Everywhere, people love eating tasty things, and those delectable dishes should be made available to as many of us as possible.
Our unique diets are what make us, us. So it can only be hoped that we care about ourselves enough to keep making appetizing delicacies.