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5 Tidbits From Our Article: Food Media & its Influence on Global Diets

We sat down with the founder of Jikoni Studios, Kiano Moju, to assess food media’s influence in our lives and discover how much it has changed since its inception. As social media continues to evolve and new platforms for sharing food content emerge, we can’t help but wonder, who decides what’s for dinner?

Here are 5 food media tidbits we discovered, and to catch the full article, head to the link at the bottom of this post.

1. Food media isn’t just the bookstore cookbook section

Food media is everywhere; how-to recipes printed on the back of your cream cheese container, suspiciously immaculate cheese sauce dripping down the side of a colossal billboard burger, and the thousand-yard stare from a cheesy pasta dish that’s been sitting at the top of your Instagram Explore page for a week. You can’t just tune out of it, unlike other media niches like fashion or automotive. Food media is unavoidable, and it isn’t just restricted to editorial media; we see it also in the advertising, entertainment, and education sectors.

a table showing Examples of Food Media, split into online & digital media, television & film, and print
Image: Examples of Food Media


2. All forms of food media can be placed on a scale from Educational to Advertising

Food media exists as a hybrid between entertainment and education (otherwise referred to as ‘Edutainment’), and is the bedrock for all published media around recipes, kitchen knowledge, home gardening education, restaurant recommendations, and grocery shopping.

While the term ‘food media’ is contemporary, the concept of immortalizing our meals for future reference has roots as far back as cave paintings depicting rolling soups and hunting formations. The act of preparing foods to eliminate diseases and toxins has been learned, recorded, and taught for centuries, and while the formats used today can be quite different (in just 23 seconds, you can learn how to cook a steak by slapping it), education has always been at the heart of food media. However, food media’s influence doesn’t end in education, it extends to all food production and distribution cycles around the world.

a scale showing the forms of food media, with educational at the far left, editorial & entertainment in the center, and advertising at the far right
Image: Forms of Food Media


3. It isn’t just avocados that have been immoderately popularized by media

It’s now common knowledge that before every café in America started penciling in avo toast at the top of their menus, the small but mighty avocado was solely enjoyed by the residents of the countries that farm it. But did you know the same applies to vanilla production?

Over 5,000 recipes are listed with “vanilla” in the title on Food52, yet only 15 countries in the world produce it, so it’s no wonder the price of vanilla is so volatile. It was only when British apothecaries started traveling the world and recording the work of other cultures for their friends back home (for those at the back, that’s also a form of food media), that Queen Elizabeth I got a taste for vanilla. Soon the humble bean pod would conquer the West; it can now be found in most –  if not all – of Martha Stewart's 90+ cookbooks.

a top-down image of a mug of hot chocolate, with lot of marshmallows on top and a sprinkling of chocolate shavings around the mug
Photo: Magda Fou on Unsplash


4. The internet has become the go-to source for foundational food knowledge

Understanding what to do with food is the most fundamental job of food media. The generational transfer of home and gardening knowledge is steadily decreasing, so instead of ringing your mom on a Saturday night in front of the oven, the internet has become the go-to source for foundational food knowledge. The pandemic solidified this dependency on digital how-to’s, with over 71% of adults having "gone digital" when cooking in the kitchen, getting their recipe ideas and kitchen tips: 24% from YouTube, 23% from Facebook, 21% from Instagram, and over 11% from TikTok.

a woman is holding her phone over a spread of food she has just cooked, and is taking a photo of it to later share on social media
Photo: Jikoni Studios


5. Viral foods don’t just influence what’s on our screens

It’s one thing to consume food media with your eyes, but as people start to consume it with their mouths, it can begin to reshape perceptions around what food is considered “normal”, and which dishes are then devalued and underrepresented for lacking in potential social media virality.

In turn, the alienation of a cuisine or ingredient from food media not only excludes cultures, but it can also influence people away from their own traditional foods and reshape their own culinary identities. Within the first 6 months of 2020, pasta consumption increased by 40% in the USA, Canada, Australia and Romania, and by 30% in the UK, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

To read more about food media’s influence in today’s society, catch our full article here:

a woman holding a plate of food she has just cooked. It is bright and colorful, with blue rice, fried plantains, green curry, and grilled chicken.
Photo: Jikoni Studios


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