14 Jun 2016

Food Just Got Sexier

Food photography, video and chatter is everywhere.

Food has been a magazine and TV staple for as long as there has been print or film canisters.

10 years ago I produced a BBC programme about Raymond Postgate, founder of the Good Food Guide, and discovered archives of magazine material from a time of post-war deprivation in the late 1940s and early 50s, that yearned for decent, wholesome, un-rationed food.

Now we’re drowning in the stuff.

We might not know how to cook an omelette, opting instead for junk or ready-meals, but there’s no shortage of cheap produce and supermarkets to shovel it out.

The point is that food is common ground. The two life experiences we can safely say we’ve all enjoyed are eating and sex. And eating probably has the edge.

So it’s little wonder that in a world of surfeit and continual overdosing of everything, that food gets extra special exposure.

Portrayals of food dishes and all the rituals that go with it are a particular western fetish.

Whole industries have grown up around the visualisation of food.

Whether it’s the TV cookery show, Food Tube or a culinary travel writing/photography course in Cambodia, there are a lot of people employed to produce food imagery.

What interests me is how this pervasive visual reference to food influences us, sustains us and is of cultural importance to us. After all there’s only so much food we can eat, but there are vast numbers of images and aspirations we are encouraged to embrace.

And at Mendip Media we’re in the thick of it.

We produce a lot of food related videos for a client who quite rightly insists on perfectly produced recipes to inspire its customers.

This comes at a cost, but the good looking videos that result from a host of skilled chefs and stylists working hard to make a pepper redder or a dish more appetising is part of the aspirational drive that keeps us hooked on the drama of food.

And maybe, in the end, it’s because food is of such central importance to human wellbeing, that seeing the perfectly produced dish is now a touchstone of our culture.

Food photos and videos remind us that we are civilised, ask us to explore our own creativity, expand our knowledge of other’s food repertoire, imagine us into a space that we’ll probably never achieve but non-the-less open a door on the possibility of becoming great through producing pleasure on plate.

These food references are both sexy and comforting, and for that reason will continue in their soar-away popularity until something significant happens to disrupt our current culture.