Understanding The Power Of Instagram Over How And What We Eat

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Grabbed some grub with my sister

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Social media has become essential to our daily lives. We use it to chase pikachu (pikachi?) on our phones, we use it to order pizza, and we’re using it to find love more than ever before. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that we base a lot of our decisions about what to eat on what we see on our Instagram and Snapchat feeds.

In order to understand how social media affects our dining habits, Zagat dug into what motivates us to go to restaurants or try some trendy food. The survey also asked how we interact with each other and our food via social media. And after interviewing 10,000 people across 26 states it turns out that we love to interact with food online. Not a huge surprise there, right? But it goes deeper.

One of the more interesting findings from the survey is that 60 percent of us browse pics of food on our devices, and 75 percent of those base their decision to frequent an eatery based on online food pics alone. Once we get into the restaurant and order, 44 percent are taking snaps of their food and posting them up. Some populations are more Insta-savvy when it comes to posting their meals — Charleston, S.C., San Diego, and Austin, Texas all ranked the highest (above 50 percent) for people taking time to post photos of their meals. That means anti-Instagram chefs are going to have a hard time getting projects funded, unless they can really tap the anti-tech audience — especially if they live in Honolulu where 91 percent report picking a restaurant based on Instagram alone.

Zagat also delved into what trends are ready for a quick death and what people are looking for now. Seems that 38 percent of diners say food mashups are getting the most eye-rolls/swipe-lefts these days — take that cronut burger! An equal amount of diners are also sick of cash-only policies — which, to be fair, who carries cash these days? But, the biggest concern for diners is farm-to-table, with 77 percent of responders stating that knowing where their food is coming from is very important. Unlike making spaghetti look like a rainbow, eating local seems to have become a movement rather than a fad.

Does any of this matter? Well, kinda. Remember that studies indicate the time it takes to focus and dwell on your food long enough for a photo actually does make you perceive it as tasting better. But is something lost with all the clicking and posting? Is there still room for conversation? It’s something that each of us will have to ponder and make our own personal decisions about.

Zagat’s survey also asked about people’s favorite food trends, and that broke down pretty clearly by region: People in L.A. love avocado toast, whereas New Yorkers are all about the cauliflower rice. Below you’ll see Instagrams (obviously) of the five top food trends of the moment.

Are you rolling your eyes or looking up how to get these delicacies inside your mouth immediately?

(Via Zagat)