Childhood Obesity News has been exploring the art and science of food porn (or foodporn), including the ways in which food is visually enhanced, sometimes for the purpose of advertising, and sometimes just because. An entire enormous genre of photography is focused on the depiction of food.
Photoshop and its brethren may have made the real profession of food photography into a lost art. Back in the day, the artistes would fiddle around for hours, adjusting the lights and coating the food with glycerine. They got up to all kinds of tricks to achieve a tactile, tasty look.
Who needs that kind of craftsmanship, when we have computers? An online mentor known as “Heather” offers “7 Tips for Aspiring Food Pornographers”:
Try both portrait and landscape mode when shooting. It can create a different feel to the finished photo. If you are wanting to submit to one of the foodporn sites, you will need to crop the photo to a square format so it’s a good idea to keep this in mind from the beginning. Above all, remember that food pornography is best shared. Don’t just sit there drooling over the computer screen, bake those cookies and enjoy them with someone special!
Is all this a bit sick? Or is it normal and healthy? Is food porn nothing more than a modern extension of such venerable traditions as the pickle contest at the state fair? And what about those foodporn sites? It seems there are several of them, and pictures of food is what they are full of — tens of thousands of pictures of food. No disrespect to farmers, restaurants, or Moms, but is the obsession with food indicative of some all-pervasive societal pathology?
Australia never ceases to astonish. Some government agency did the research to find out the most visually repulsive color, which happens to be olive green. Why did they want to know? Because (unless it is successfully challenged by whatever process the country uses for reversing unpopular legislation) a law will take effect soon, requiring all brands of cigarettes to be sold in olive-green packages. They must also look identical in every other way, with only two lines of text — to identify the brand, and prominent health warnings.
Come December, the playing field will be level, packaging-wise. Kayla Holman explains:
The plain packaging initiative has one goal, to lower the number of tobacco-related deaths throughout the country. Apparently the Australian government believes that this can be done by grossing people out. Or in more proper terms; they aim to use unattractive packaging to dissuade people (particularly youngsters) from turning to cigarettes as a form of personal or stylistic expression… Plain packaging is making large enough waves in Australia that the aftershock could impact decisions made in Canada and the U.K. as well.
Chris Snowdon of the Adam Smith Institute contributed to the debate, because he doesn’t want this crazy idea spreading to the U.K. He fears for the future of not only the tobacco industry, but sugar, fat, alcohol, and salt as well:
What happens to tobacco tends to happen to other products sooner or later. Public health organisations around the world have been applying the blueprint of antitobacco regulation to other products for years. Sin taxes and advertising bans are increasingly common for certain types of food and drink…
Well, yes, that is exactly what Dr. Pretlow and many others in the United States would like to see happen! If the restrictions on advertising junk food were the same as the ones that apply to tobacco, that would be a big step in the right direction. Extra taxation isn’t a bad idea either, especially if the revenues go to obesity prevention and treatment. Dr. Pretlow says:
Foods that kids say they have the most problem resisting should be taxed, in the same manner that taxation of tobacco products has shown success in decreasing tobacco use.
As soon as the plain cigarette-packaging law was passed, Australian nutrition activists got into the act, talking about generic packaging for junk food. Some radicals have even suggested that high-nutrition foods be packaged in glitzy wrappers, in order to attract the eyes of indigenous people in the outback, whose food choices are said to be easily swayed by a colorful and shiny external appearance. The same is definitely true of children. It may be worth trying.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “7 Tips for Aspiring Food Pornographers,” Digital Photography School, 08/08/10
Source: “Australia says ‘g’day’ to plain packaging,” CPS Blog, 02/16/12
Source: “Plain packaging – a new Adam Smith Institute report,” AdamSmith.org, 02/20/12
Image by navets (Stevan Sheets), used under its Creative Commons license.