With combined sales of $5.75 trillion, it's hard to imagine any industry bigger than the food retail and services sector.
In modern America, chefs are celebrities and these food celebrities release cookbooks as if it's part of their job description. Even with (or perhaps because of) myriad food bloggers, cookbooks are one major book category surviving the shift to digital, with sales up 21% year-over-year in 2018. Personality, competition, and lifestyle food shows continue drawing huge viewership on television and online, exemplified by the likes of YouTube channels like Tastemade and Food Network stalwarts like "Chopped" and "Barefoot Contessa." Food-related documentaries like the acclaimed "Salt Fat Acid Heat" continue to flood Netflix and other streaming services. Once upon a time, naysayers questioned whether the Food Network could survive, but now Hollywood can't get enough culinary programming.
The same is true with food and social media. Instagram could spin-off an entirely new social network just for the mountain of food pictures its users post. #Food is the 25th most-used hashtag with over 252 million posts. Celebrity chefs who take Instagram seriously command millions of followers. Meanwhile, unknowns like Turkish meat purveyor Salt Bae can become overnight sensations, going from flamboyant chefs to worldwide celebrities with restaurants in the world's biggest cities.
From meticulous gardens to brutal slaughterhouses, the nature of food—how we cook it, grow it, raise it, eat it, buy it, and organize around it politically—has changed so much over the last 50 years that the modern consumer would scarcely recognize the cuisine and nutrition landscape as it existed in 1969. Read on to learn about the evolution of food over the last half-century, the driving forces behind the changes, and the impact those changes have had on nearly every corner of society.
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