One of our Gotham Grazer schools is currently watching Food, Inc., the 2008 documentary that examines the American food system.
Towards the end of each class, students reflect on a number of questions related to the film, one being: How does the way you eat differ from that of your grandparents? The students had a variety of answers, but the overwhelming theme was that past generations cooked the majority of their meals, and even ate fruits and vegetables from their own farms and gardens. In comparison, the students said their own meals were usually a combination of takeout food, pre-made or frozen meals, and home-cooked meals. After sharing these comments aloud, it was clear that the students were a little dismayed by what the food system had become.
In support of this discussion, we found an article that was recently on Food Navigator that connects millenials' food habits with food waste. According to food historian and broadcaster Dr. Polly Russell, older generations generally ate the same meals each week and were keen on leftovers. Meanwhile, millenials demand choice, change, and variety, which often leads to an excess of unused, "exotic" foods. The title of the article even suggests that millenials base their meals on what is worthy of being posted on Instagram.
Through all of this sociological analysis, we can see that the rules of supply and demand hold true for food consumers. Part of our job at Gotham Grazer is to show students how they can skew the food system by purchasing fruits, vegetables, and meat that is produced sustainably and ethically. Our society will likely never return to the minimalistic eating habits that existed in the mid-20th century, and we need to find a way to enjoy the variety that we crave, while still making sustainable choices.