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Instagram has changed the way we eat

Picture the scene. Youre sitting in a cute restaurant and your brunch has just arrived.

Sourdough t..

Picture the scene. Youre sitting in a cute restaurant and your brunch has just arrived.

Sourdough topped with vibrant smashed avocado dotted with fresh red chilies, a poached egg oozing just slightly with a sunset orange yolk – its picture perfect.

Depending on your level of shame, you might preface what youre about to do with a bashful comment; sorry to be that guy, or, its got to be done, before whipping out your phone and taking a birds-eye shot of your plate.

Theres no denying that Instagram has changed the way we consume food. For many of us, the aesthetic has overtaken the values of nutrition and taste as we strive to show the world just how perfect every single element of our lives is.

Our eternal quest for virtual validation affects the meals we order, the restaurants we choose to go to, what we cook for dinner at home – maybe even the ways we think about food.



But, while you may roll your eyes as your dinner date spends eight minutes getting the perfect snap of your rapidly cooling vegan burgers, its not necessarily an entirely bad thing.

Search #foodporn on Instagram and you will pull up more than 200 million posts. Clearly, there is a serious appetite for food pics. We love sharing them and we love scrolling through them. Its comforting, inspiring and, admit it, those cheese-pull boomerang videos are borderline arousing.

But beyond the superficial pleasures, are there any wider benefits of scrolling through images of other peoples dinners into the wee hours?

Ryan Carter is a personal trainer and nutritional therapist with 390,000 followers on Instagram. He shares simple, healthy meal ideas for people to try at home and thinks there are huge educational benefits for people who can access his advice online, for free.

There is so much content out there, which is great to feast your eyes on. It provides both education and inspiration for food ideas, recipes and tips, says Ryan.

Anything which can add value to peoples lives is a benefit in my opinion. Instagram has allowed me to share my own passion for cooking by showcasing recipes, my philosophy of nutrition and my lifestyle based on my journey.

Instagram allows you to engage with your audience and have a more personal experience. They can interact with you directly and engage, which is revolutionary. I have connected with some amazing people, made good friends from around the world, even meeting some of them in real life.

But Ryan does admit that the focus on food on Instagram may have some dangers. He thinks that its all too easy to be taken in by powerful, addictive messaging online, and when it comes to diet, that can quickly develop into problematic or disordered eating patterns.



From diet trends to calorie comparing, fear mongering to fierce arguments and trolling – it can lead to all kinds of insecurity issues, he explains. This not only affects our diet and the food we eat, but also our personal well-being, as well negatively reinforcing our relationship with food and ourselves.

Its a view that is shared by Sophie Bertrand, a registered associate nutritionist at Rhitrition clinic.

Some of the clients I work with feel pressure in regards to sticking with certain portion sizes and eating in a certain way, explains Sophie. We must remember that everyone is unique, and a lot of these foodie accounts are not a clear representation of ones diet.

I would suggest that if the accounts you follow are having a negative impact on the way you eat – unfollow them – and stick to those that inspire you and promote anti-diet and positive messages around food.

It all comes down to us, adds Ryan. How we interact with social media and the modern day tools at our disposal. Whether we empower ourselves with the correct information, or give social media all the power.

But how much power do we really have to step away from the pervasive influence of Instagram? Even if we log out, influencer culture has impacted the way food is presented to us in the real world as well as online.

In the notoriously competitive restaurant market, chefs and owners know the value of a viral dish.


A recent study found that 13% of Londoners choose to go to a restaurant based on how Instagrammable it is, so its a commercial no-brainer to cater to this need by providing attractive plates of food in an enviable setting.

Employed well, this use of Instgram-focused marketing can be invaluable in helping new and emerging businesses build an avid following.

BOBs Lobster started as an upmarket food truck, serving seafood extravagance on casual paper plates – quite literally on the street. Instagram quickly became the tool that helped to establish them in a tough marketplace.

Lacking many of the tangibles and branding references of a traditional restaurant, we have always been obsessed with the things that we could control, such as quality, fun and visual presentation, explains the founder of BOBs Lobster, Rob Dann.

The plates we use in the restaurant are a specific white that enhances the food… Im assured.

From the very first day launching the food truck, we served our dishes with branded greaseproof paper or framed by a branded wet wipe. Even now, with a permanent restaurant, we have retained some of these details specifically for social media purposes.

Rob has even created a special #foodporn menu, which features ahi tuna tacos; sashimi grade tuna in a ponzu dressing, spiked with wasabi guacamole and chipotle crema in crispy wonton taco shells.

Their most famous dish is the lobster mac n cheese, which uses native lobster tail, a lobster bisque béchamel and three cheeses. They even think about which cheeses to use to achieve the perfect cheese pulling shot.

Finally, six months ago, after much appeal, we got a lobster emoji! Rob enthuses.


For Rob, Instagram has been invaluable – his restaurant had no marketing budget, and the power and call to action that social media has provided has been unbelievable.

Everyone is a restaurant critic and everyone is your marketing agent, explains Rob. Everyone is on it, including landlords and agents, and Im sure our Insta presence was a factor when we were invited to open our first permanent site in London Bridge.

Instagram has also facilitated countless other opportunities and collaborations with incredible brands such as Laurent-Perrier, Royal Ascot, Lulu Guinness, Penguin Publishing, Borough Market, to name but a few.

In the mission to keep customers excited in an over-saturated market, chefs and their marketing teams are tying themselves in knots to come up with wild and wonderful edible creations. Because there is no advertising tool more powerful than going viral.

Remember the perfect rolls of ice cream from a few summers ago? Freakshakes? Or KFCs brand new glazed doughnut chicken sandwich? These creations arent devised for their superior taste or flavours – theyre made because they can guarantee a line of Instafoodies queueing out the door to get their #CheatDay content.

Dominique Ansel is the creator of the world-famous Cronut. The legendary invention is a croissant-doughnut pastry, and arguably one of the very first viral food sensations – but that was never the intention.

When we launched the Cronut we were just kind of at the beginning of the world of Instagram, Dominique tells It wasnt what it was today. So the growth and popularity of this product was pretty much organic.

There was talk on social media, but it was covered in the papers, magazines, on TV and word-of-mouth.

It was the spring of 2013, and just three days after the Cronut was launched there was a queue of more than 100 people outside Dominques New York bakery, all desperate to get their hands on one.

For me, Instagram is a great tool to talk about the new things we do and why we do it, says Dominique.

Its not a platform that should only be used to sell. You have to use it as a way to engage and share with other people.

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30 Best Oreo Flavors, Ranked and Tested

We write about Oreos a lot here. Like, a lot a lot. But can you blame us? The classic cookie has been around longer than any of us have (since 1912!), and there are so many Oreo recipes and desserts out there that frankly, we’re surprised that we as a society haven’t caused a nationwide shortage. There are few things in the world more simple and versatile as an Oreo cookie and milk (yes, that includes all of the 85-plus flavors in the brand’s history), and it’s safe to say we’re just a little bit obsessed. Case in point, this giant Oreo cake, these Oreo truffles, this Oreo popcorn, and this Oreo cookie skillet. You get the idea.

It was only a matter of time before we turned around and said, “Have we ever tried them all in one sitting?” We hadn’t. So we did.

Of course, there were hiccups. Although so many Oreo flavors have emerged over the course of the cookie brand’s 110-year lifespan, some flavors are hard to find on shelves. Some seem to be discontinued. Others are only available overseas. Green tea Oreos, for instance, are only available in Japan. (But whyyyy?) That said, our editors are nothing if not intrepid, tracking down a whopping 30 Oreo varieties for an in-depth taste test.

Without further ado, here’s our worst-to-best ranking of every Oreo flavor we could get our hands on. Let us know if we missed any favorites!


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How to convert a mushroom hater

As with any difficult relationship, Ollie, it can take work, but there is hope. “When you say, ‘I don’t like mushrooms’, it’s like saying you don’t like wine,” says self-confessed fungus obsessive Will Murray. “There are so many varieties out there, and they all behave in different ways.” The chef and co-founder of Fallow in London, who even grows his own at the restaurant, adds: “If, for example, you brine and deep-fry grey oyster mushrooms, they take on the texture of fried chicken.”

Perhaps a simpler strategy in the fight against squishy, spongy mushrooms, however, is to fry them on a high heat. “You need to be in danger of setting off the smoke alarm, or you’re not doing it properly,” Murray says. Then, as in life, it pays to be patient – and use more butter than seems reasonable. “Mushrooms hold a lot of liquid, so you need to fry them for quite a while to get them crisp,” says Helen Graham, head chef of veg-led Bubala in London. “If you don’t take them to the colour you want before adding other stuff to the pan, the mushrooms will never catch up.”

You could also try replicating Bubala’s charred oyster mushroom skewers. “We marinate the mushrooms in soy sauce, agave, coriander seeds, garlic and vegetable oil, then thread on to skewers and grill,” Graham says. “The agave helps to caramelise them, and obviously the oil helps to give crispiness and a really nice texture.”

Alternatively, pop a portobello in a bun. “I grew up in the Middle East, where it’s always barbecue weather,” says Noor Murad, who heads up the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen. “I love throwing mushrooms on the grill and slathering them in barbecue sauce [homemade or store-bought].” Melt a square of cheese on top, if you fancy, and serve with slaw.

It’s also worth considering how you prep the mushrooms. “You want to keep their meaty integrity, so you can really get your teeth into them, which means don’t chop them too small,” Murad explains. That said, a duxelles [finely chopped mushrooms cooked in butter with onions or shallots and herbs] might be a good gateway. “If she doesn’t enjoy the texture of mushrooms, make a very finely chopped duxelles,” Murray says. “The mushrooms dissolve into the sauce and add a rich undercurrent of earthy umami.” Spread on toast, add to omelettes or mashed potato, or go all out with a wellington.

You could also, of course, do away with cooking them altogether. “Raw mushrooms aren’t slimy,” says Murray, who suggests thinly slicing chestnuts or portobellos, dressing them with sherry vinegar (“or even a little sherry”), dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh herbs and minced garlic, then adding to salads. Dried mushrooms, meanwhile, have “second chance” written all over them. “They’re amazing, especially in the base of soups and stews,” Murad says. “You don’t get the texture, but you’ll get that umaminess – maybe that’s a good way to get Ollie’s partner to like mushrooms.” Graham agrees. She adds shiitake (“porcini would be equally delicious”) and kombu to stock, reduces down “with something tangy like pomegranate molasses”, then uses it as a sauce for cabbage. Happily, it’s good with other veg, too, so there’s shroom to manoeuvre. *groans*


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Preventing food fraud: Europe’s battle against the spice pirates

Spices are among the oldest food products in the world and still enjoy great popularity today. But h..

Spices are among the oldest food products in the world and still enjoy great popularity today. But how can we be sure of their quality and authenticity? With serious money to be made, counterfeiters are often attempting to fradulently pass off inferior products as the genuine article.

To find out more about how fraud in this arena can be identified and stopped, we went to Belgium to meet a spice trader – and also to see scientists working at the Joint Research Centre’s Fraud Detection Unit.

Spice expert

Herbs and spices are the daily business of Alexandre Veuve; he is the manager of the prestigious spice specialist and gourmet grocery store Le Tour Du Monde En Epices in Waterloo, south of Brussels.

As an expert in the sector, he always guarantees that the products he sells are of the highest quality:

However, he knows only too well that fraud is a common risk in this market:

“There is generally fraud on quite expensive spices, for example saffron. This is a spice that is worth as much as gold, so obviously there are a lot of scams involving it.

“Powders are also the target of fraud because they can be more easily falsified.

“That’s why we make our own powders; we buy the spices whole and then we create them ourselves.”

“There is ofen fraud on quite expensive spices – for example, saffron. This is a spice that is worth as much as gold, so obviously there are a lot of scams involving it.”Euronews

Europe’s food fraud unit

One of the facilities of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Geel in Belgium hosts the European Food Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit. Here, teams of scientists analyse samples of spices imported to Europe using state-of-the-art technologies, in some cases using methods similar to those used for police investigations.

One of the most powerful tools at their disposal is DNA analysis. The genetic map of the spice can indicate whether or not there are foreign biological elements present.

The most common types of fraud are the use of less expensive plants, or the addition of dyes to make the spice appear more attractive or authentic.

Antoon Lievens, a Molecular Biologist at the Unit, says saffron is a good example of where fraud is regularly attempted:

“We’ve found one or two samples that were not saffron at all and the sequencing analysis has shown that it was safflower that has been sold as saffron.

“Another exemple is curcuma (turmeric). We’ve found a sample that was not curcuma, but actually paprika powder that had been dyed or coloured to look like curcuma.”

Analysis via spectroscopy

The detection of fraud is based on a set of investigative protocols, each of which unveils a part of the puzzle. Spectroscopy is one powerful method; it doesn’t require special sample preparation and allows a rapid result through the examination of the samples molecules by a laser beam.

Jone Omar, an Analytical Chemist at the Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit, says this is a foolproof method:

“Spectroscopy is basically based on a ray of light touching the sample, which makes the molecules vibrate and we then obtain a light spectrum readout of the vibration of those molecules.

“So when we focus on a pure food, we have a pure spectrum for it.

“When we spot an adulteration, the spectrum of the vibration of the molecule bands is different.”

This x-ray fluorescence technique, which is also used for non-invasive analysis of artworks to establish authenticity or otherwise, reveals whether or not inorganic materials – such as sand or clay – are present in the plant sample.

Chemical tests such as liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry allow, through the separation of the molecules, the establishment of whether or not there are traces of external dyes present.

These same techniques are also used to create chemical fingerprints of spices, which can then provide even more in-depth information about the nature of the sample.

If the adulteration is confirmed, certain measures can then be taken.

Franz Ulberth, Head of the Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit, explains:

“One of the further measures could be that you send inspectors to check the company, to look into the books, to (examine) transportation papers, establishing a chain of traceability, to trace it back to the origin.”

The spice production and distribution supply chain is spread between different countries and this makes controls more complicated.

In a growing market of global scale, the use of these techniques is key to certifying the quality of the product.

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The post Preventing food fraud: Europe's battle against the spice pirates first appeared on NewswireNow – A Press Release Publishing Service.

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