The Atlantic

Why Are Millennials So Obsessed With Food?

The author Eve Turow argues that a generation’s taste for natural ingredients will shape the future of restaurants, grocery stores, and agriculture.
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When Eve Turow returned to her college campus for her five-year reunion, she realized that she’d changed: Back when she was in college, she was content subsisting on “gelatinous brown rice, pre-cooked mushy pinto beans, [and] blocks of bouncy tofu.” But if she were in college now, she says, she’d be taking rice-bowl inspiration from Pinterest and making good use of the nearby farmer’s market and the greenhouse attached to the science library.

In her recent book A Taste of Generation Yum: How the Millennial Generation’s Love for Organic Fare, Celebrity Chefs, and Microbrews Will Make or Break the Future of Food, Turow, who has written about food for NPR’s website and has worked as an assistant to Mark Bittman, tries to figure out why food came to be something she and her generation obsesses over.

Turow’s theory is that in a digital-first era, many people latch onto food as something that engages all of the senses and brings people together in physical space. I spoke with her about why food culture has changed, whether it’s confined to the Millennial generation, and what that means for the food industry—chains, grocery stores, and big corporations included. The interview that follows has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Joe Pinsker: I want to start with a simple definitional question. When you say that young people

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