A Philosophical Look at Today’s Foodie Culture With Author Dwight Furrow

Dwight Furrow is a philosophy professor and author (check out his book “American Foodie”) who writes on the aesthetics of food and wine. We got a chance to speak with him on this episode of “On Foodable Weekly.”

“American Foodie,” said Furrow, explores the “remarkable emergence of a genuine food culture in the United States.” Whereas convenience played a leading factor in our approach to food for much of the 20th century, Furrow argues there’s been a fundamental shift, where flavor has become more important. “The book is an attempt to explain that change and what brought it about, and why that is significant,” he said.

Furrow’s background is in philosophy, but he’s been passionate about food for years. “I’ve always been a little bit puzzled by the fact that philosophers very seldom talk about food. There’s very little discussion of it in philosophy at all, and so I decided to strike out in that direction to see what can be said about food from a philosophical point of view in a way that would be accessible to people who just enjoy food.”

The Modern-Day Foodie

There’s no denying that we live in a “foodie” generation. But what does this term even mean? And perhaps more importantly, how did we, as a nation, become so obsessed with food? From a philosophical standpoint, Furrow says it starts with our hectic lifestyles; values of the workplace have seeped into every other dimension of our lives, including at home. With food, he says, we get a different set of values. “In food, we put pleasure before production and care before commerce. It’s a way of introducing more creativity in our lives because we don’t necessarily find that in the workplace any longer,” he says. “It gives us a chance to slow down and savor the moment, to sort of get outside that hectic workplace dimension.”

While not all foodies flock to social media, a surge of them are — to show off what they’re eating, to engage in conversations about food-related topics, and to position themselves as social influencers (which, stereotypically, wouldn’t be complete without trending hashtags like #foodporn and #nomz). Furrow says the appeal of social media comes from users’ ability to create their own content how and when they’d like without having to go through a gatekeeper or editor to get noticed.

Watch the full episode to hear Furrow’s analyses on the craft movement, Millennial diners, sustainability, and what operators and chefs should keep in mind for the future of food.