Must read book, Hungry

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I had the pleasure of viewing a Zoom presentation from the author of the book, Hungry, Eve Turow-Paul, and it brought an "aha" moment about what the digital age has brought us, as well as what the population growth and the need for sustainability have brought to our food-centric view of the world and everyday space.

As we are trying to keep busy during the pandemic, I thought I would mention this book for those who love to read and who love to learn more about food. Here is a tip from my master's degree classmates that I have found to be most useful. You can "read" so many more books on Audible never mind by making them go at 1.5 times the speed. I "read" or "listen" while in traffic, while cleaning, while walking, and before bed. I find it is much better to be listening to wonderful authors versus a plethora of 24/7 news that is not really that useful or relevant to our own space.

Eve brings us many things to consider about food and the digital era. Her new book, Hungry, just came out and she said it was extraordinary to launch a new book during the social justice revolution AND a pandemic. She describes our world as VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. It feels validating to have someone create an acronym for our crazy albeit temporary space.

Eve has been studying and researching the habits and thoughts of younger people and food culture for over a year and is passionate about that topic especially since she got to experience it in NYC after college. She graduated when the recession hit and had no job prospects, so she continued her education by getting an MFA for creative writing. It was hard to live in NYC on a small budget. She preferred to spend her money on food experiences and saw that the young people were also doing that. She studied millennials and food culture. Her book, A Taste of Generation YUM, is very intriguing.

Eve says being millennial is not about age so much as it is about tech and the impact of tech on an entire population that is really relevant to everyone right now. How is that technology hindering our ability to meet our needs? How do people use food as a coping mechanism for the fractured but content-rich lives that tech has created?

I learned from her that younger or current tastes are much more than CBD lattes and avocado toast; they are more about people having a flavor experience, and younger people are giving things up to have these experiences. Perhaps our classes about MyPlate and nutrition need to be more about experiences than just science?

Her book, Hungry, focuses on three core needs – the desire for control and safety, longing for belonging and community, and the need for purpose and meaning in life. The theories of her research fall into these buckets. She also claims that lifestyle trends tend to be about these needs. I would think that nutrition and health education professionals want to consider them when trying to make an impact with messaging.

The start of her research on control is the most important, and millennials have the highest incidence of anxiety – this is people under 40, and maybe GenZ, who are even younger, will surpass millennials with their levels of anxiety. The relationship with tech can be the cause of these problems. It is 24/7 news, and bad news all the time that makes life very stressful. We feel like we can know anything, but that also makes us feel like we know nothing. We all have to be our experts. Tech also impacts productivity and time. Email makes us less productive, and we are always multi-tasking and less productive. It is harder to ping pong between things. Perhaps it is the busy 24/7 tech life that explains why millennials love snacking – they just don’t have time to eat.

I found her thoughts to be extremely intriguing and to understand how tech has changed our world and the people in it. I grew up at the end of the baby boomers - somewhere in between them and millennials and never had any disasters in between Kennedy's death and 911. After that time is a different story.

We have to consider how tech impacts our lives and our food industry. We also have to be mindful of how younger generations want to have food as a feeling of security, belonging, community, and purpose. And now that the population has grown to almost 8 billion we have to consider and spend with sustainability in mind. Even with COVID, births are double the count of deaths.

I see Eve’s research and work as making us realize how vital food will be for sustenance, community, and nourishment. Food is much more than making a meal, it is about making people feel safe and in control, connected, and making an excellent decision for how it was made. People all want to feel loved and accepted. Loneliness may be the next health epidemic. Diets cannot be the only concern, and they should not cause anxiety. Classes have to be about community, safety, connection, and purpose.

I look forward to reading all of her books! She helps us understand younger generations, news anxiety, and the use of tech in our world.

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