What's the meaning of #foodporn?

By Fiona Ralph

Alaskan king crab from Orleans' Crab Shack - classic foodporn. Picture / Babiche Martens
Alaskan king crab from Orleans' Crab Shack - classic foodporn. Picture / Babiche Martens

We're all guilty of it: The minute your meal arrives, it's not your fork you reach for, but your phone. Cooked something impressive? Meaningless, until you've snapped it and shared the photo online with your "friends".

The social media hashtag #foodporn, often used to label these enticing images, is peaking. Scroll through any news feed, blog or website - many devoted solely to the art of foodporn - to be greeted with countless mouth-watering meals, shot from above and with a nostalgic filter no doubt.

But is this latest hashtag trend just as unhelpful as the tag #firstworldproblems? Could focussing on what's on our plate be used to make a difference, instead of simply promoting envy and encouraging gluttony?

Virgin Mobile Australia thinks so, and is currently running a #mealforameal campaign with food waste and redistribution charity OzHarvest.

Each time someone uploads a food photo with the hashtag #mealforameal, Virgin and OzHarvest will donate a meal to those in need - they had turned 145,335 food shots into meals at time of writing.

The companies aren't the first to encourage socially responsible gastro gramming. The Feedie app launched last year encourages users to dine at restaurants who will donate to The Lunchbox Fund (a non-profit that provides meals for disadvantaged South African children) with each photo shared.

The Association of Food Banks of Colombia (ABACO) has a #mealforshare drive inviting instagrammers to buy meals, with the outcome of 185 tonnes of food being donated to Colombians in need. And international charity Table for Two's iphone app, and recent A Meal For A Meal campaign, uses social media to donate a proportion of restaurant proceeds to schoolchildren suffering from malnutrition.

Hopefully the time has come to infuse meaning into our mouthwatering media moments - we hope the trend hits local shores soon. In the meantime, here's the latest food porn to salivate over.

- VIVA

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