Posts Tagged ‘food’
Popular Forms of Grilling
Legend has it, prehistoric man first learned to eat roasted food by eating the flesh of animals killed in a forest fire.
– Broiling is a form of grilling wherein the source of heat is located above the food.
– Char-grilling is essentially grilling that uses coal or charcoal as a medium of heat to cook food.
– Barbecuing is a socializing trend soon catching up among people as a great idea for a friendly get together. Most of us have been to at least one barbecue evening.
– Other forms include grid-ironing, charcoal kettle-grilling, flat top grilling, stove-top pan grilling and grill-braising. However, scientists have now discovered that grilling your food may be putting you at a major health risk.
Health Risks of Grilling Food
According to research, excessive grilling for long durations at a high heating point changes the chemical makeup of food and develops carcinogens, cancer-causing agents. The formation of two compounds, Hetero-cyclic Amines (HAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) , leads to development of stomach and colon cancer on consumption of foods that they bind to. It interferes with the DNA structure of your body and stimulate the production of cancer-causing cells.
Dangers of Grilling Meat
When you grill food, the only barrier between the source of heat and food are the grills. Over-heating causes animal fat to melt, drip off your food and melt on to the medium of heat, which is often coal. At a temperature of 400°F, too much heat leads to the transformation of amino acids present in muscle tissues in the meat into HAs and PAHs that vaporize due to the heat. These are one of the most catastrophic carcinogens. As the smoke rises and settles on to the food, these chemicals attach to your food. The brown-black spots are over-grilled parts of your food that contain the most amount of HAs and PAHs. But, the formation of HAs is observed in protein based food like meat. These mutagens provoke cardiomyopathy, a degenerative heart condition of tissue inflammation and destruction, which is an aging disorder in reality. However, scientists are still investigating to factually confirm this observation in humans.
As a matter of fact, people who have the highest consumption of grilled meats, also have a higher rate of pancreatic disorder, liver, breast and rectal cancer. Even if you are not eating it, but doing the cooking, the chemicals are present in the fumes and easily enter your respiratory system. But I must also add, that it is only harmful when done for days and not just a few hours. Even though beef is a lot richer in fat content as compared to chicken, deep-fried beef contains much lesser HAs and PAHs as compared to grilled chicken.
Grilling it Safe
You do not have to fear grilling because it is still safe to eat grilled food. After all, it is only a variation of roasting, the first cooking method discovered by man. However, there are some safe grilling techniques that you could practice to avoid the health risks associated with grilling.
– Choose lean and healthy meat cuts for your barbecue sessions. Low fat helps ensure reduced dripping of animal fat – on the coal, thereby, minimizing the development of carcinogens.
– Do not grill meat for long periods.
– Reduce portion size of meat.
– Always clean cooking equipment post-grilling immediately to prevent bacteria from breeding on them.
– Do not consume the over-grilled parts of your food even if it is not meat. HAs form on meat products but PAHs can form on all kinds of food during excessive roasting. Even your vegetarian kebabs and skewers contain the risk.
– If you are using a microwave or oven for grilling, make sure you preheat them well, at least 10-15 minutes to reduce cooking time.
– To grill fish, you can wrap it in an aluminum foil and keep it chemical free.
– Supplement your food with antioxidants by marinating meat with lemon or orange juice, vinegar and red wine. Have a fruits and vegetables salad as a side-dish.
Think about all the greenhouse gases and soot particles that grilling produces. It not just affect your health but it mixes up and stays within the atmospheric layer of the environment. The more your barbecue meat stays in contact with flame and smoke, the more will be the carcinogen content on it. You could use a grilling machine that has a filter to block out smoke and prevent it from coming in contact with your food. If it suits you, you could substitute grilling with frying using avocado and safflower oil as they have a high smoke point. Also, it would be great health etiquette to reduce the portion size of those hamburgers. As the saying goes, “What you eat is what you become!”
Tips to Stay Away from Fast Food
Keep a reminder in your calendar about shopping every week for groceries. It is better if you can make a list of all the healthy food items that you have bought, or are planning to buy for the coming days. This will help you to keep a track on the availability of food items in the house, and keep you from running out of food at the end of the week. This way, you wouldn’t be tempted into buying junk food.
Working people can opt for foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods that provide an even energy level to the body, and at the same time help you feel fuller for a longer time. So, there would be no need of ‘munching’ between meals. Some examples of food items that are rich sources of complex carbohydrates are
– Buckwheat bread
– Oat bran bread
– Oat bran cereal
– Water cress
– Whole barley buckwheat
When you think that you will be out for longer hours, it would be a good idea to carry some healthy snacks to fight off that hunger. Banana popsicles, granola bar, flavored popcorn, veggies and dip, yogurt parfait, baked potato fries, fruit salads, etc., are healthy snacks to ease those sudden pangs of hunger. This habit is especially beneficial for small kids, as they do not really know the difference between healthy and unhealthy.
Nowadays, all health-conscious people are turning to a habit of having smaller, frequent meals. This is a good habit as it keeps the body active and makes one feel more satisfied. Food cravings can be reduced by sticking to about 5 – 6 smaller meals each day to refrain from snacking between meals. However, one should not ‘at all’ avoid taking breakfast, as it is the most important of all the meals of the day.
Along with educating yourself, it is equally important that you also make your friends aware of the benefits of giving up fast foods, and importance of following a healthy diet. Most often it happens that due to peer pressure, people fall for such habits. So, try to avoid joining any ‘fast food party’ and the like, and stay away from any such tempting offers.
You can stay away from unhealthy food, if you take a firm decision. The aforementioned tips are only a means to strengthen your decision with time. Know that junk foods are not formulated for good health. So if you can fight the urge of eating such unhealthy food for the first few days, you can be sure of following this practice for the rest of your life.
Healthy Fast Food Breakfast
We all love fast food and as per the proven market studies, most people have fast food breakfast on a daily basis; which is quite justified to the condition that, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If we skip breakfast, we might have to make a greater compromise regarding health and overall well-being. Having breakfast which is low on calories and high on protein counts are the best choice that one can have because such food increases the metabolism rate as well as sudden food cravings that we have at any hour of the day.
The idea of having fast food breakfast sounds interesting as well as convenient as it takes less time to prepare. Is fast food good or bad? We have heard the answer to this, for at least a million times. Fast food is not healthy, it contains highest amount of calories, salts and sugars. Despite the fact, is it possible to have healthy fast food breakfast? The answer to this question is of course an affirmation. There are some options available in most fast food restaurants that you can veritably include in your diet.
Healthy Fast Food Breakfast Choices
Making healthy choices means finding fast food that is high on fibers and proteins and containing less saturated fats, sugar and salts. High fiber count is very important and can be consumed through some of the baked food items as well. One has to avoid fast food that is high on fat, sugar and salt. There are many fast food joints that offer relatively healthy breakfasts that can be consumed without worrying much about the calorie count and budget as well. The options are not too many but they are certainly available when consumed with a little bit of more concern regarding the fast food nutrition facts. Here is some help regarding most choices that you can make.
– Egg Muffin
– Ham Omelet Sandwich
– French Toast Sticks (3 pieces)
– French Toast Dips (5 pieces)
– Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
– Bluberry Bagel
– Honey Bran Raisin Muffin
– Fruit n’ Yogurt Parfait with Granola
– Fruit and Walnut Salad
– Spinach, Roasted Tomato, Feta, and Egg Wrap
– Skinny Latte
– “All Fruit” smoothie
– Egg and Cheese English Muffin Sandwich
– Powdered Cake donut holes (4 pieces)
In addition to consuming the above things, you should make sure that you have smaller meals rather than the super or jumbo sized plates. A healthy fast food breakfast will be perfect when you will have food items like smallest sized burgers, salads and grilled sandwiches, sauces and dressing that are low fat (you can also avoid them completely) and having more water instead of the soft drinks and coffee. Including more fruits, raw and green vegetables is a great diet plan that you should follow. You can try making some breakfast recipes at home and on your own.
Leading an active lifestyle, having a balanced diet, plenty of exercise and recreational activities is essential for a healthy body and a sound mind. Take care!
10 Negative Health Effects of Fast Food
#1 – Headaches
The processed meat used in fast food contain nitrates, nitrites, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate which increase blood flow and can trigger a migraine attack. Additives are used to keep the meat fresh and to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum the bacteria which causes food poisoning. The increased blood flow can cause excessive pressure to build up in the head and can lead to headaches.
#2 – Collection of Trans Fat
The processed food used in the fast food industry is loaded with trans fat, which not only increase the ‘bad cholesterol’ (Low Density Lipoprotein) levels but also reduce the ‘good cholesterol’ (High Density Lipoprotein) levels. Processed meat used by fast food industries can sometimes have 45% more trans fat than their natural counterparts.
#3 – Increased Cholesterol Levels
Consuming fast foods leads to an increased intake of cholesterol which is highly dangerous for humans. The cholesterol molecules attach themselves to the arteries which leads to their thickening or clogging. This can obstruct the blood flow and lead to high blood pressure. The accumulation of cholesterol in any one of the main arteries can cause blockage and lead to heart conditions.
#4 – Depression
Depression is one of the many negative effects of fast food. This emotional condition has been linked to regular consumption of fast foods by a study done by the University College of London. According to the study, people who indulge in fast foods often are 58% more likely to suffer from depression. Fast foods do not contain antioxidants, foliate, and omega -3s which is necessary for good mental health. Fast foods contain preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers, and flavor enhancers which can affect the mental well-being of the person.
#5 – Excessive Sodium Intake
Fast foods contain high amounts of sodium which can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Although small amounts of sodium is needed for bodily functions, consuming too much can lead to not just high blood pressure, but build up of fluids in people who are suffering from liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failures or kidney ailments.
#6 – Sexual Dysfunction
What we eat affects our physical, mental, and sexual health. Fatty acids found in fast foods are a major contributor to sexual dysfunction, not only does it cause weight gain but can trigger biochemical changes which effect libido, sperm count and female ovulation.
#7 – Food Poisoning
Even if we overlook the dangers posed by low fiber, trans fat and high calories, fast food pose another problem, food poisoning. The processed meat is many times contaminated with manure which contains Escherichia Coli and Salmonella. E.Coli is considered very difficult to treat and sometimes referred to as the worst sort of food poisoning. Even after antibiotics kill the bacteria, the toxins released by it can produce harmful effects. This disease is usually spread through undercooked hamburgers and is a leading cause of renal failure among American kids.
#8 – Addictive Nature of Fast Foods
According to the Science Daily, high levels of sugar and fat can cause blood sugar to spike and then crash suddenly. The patrons of fast food feel a sudden rush of euphoria when this happens making them dependent on the euphoric effects of insulin surges. Therefore one of the harmful effects of fast food consumption is the addiction or the incessant craving it causes among people.
#9 – PFCA Contamination
The wrappers used in the fast food industry are coated with perfluoroalkyls (PAC) which prevents the grease from leaving through. These have been proven to get inside the human body and change into more harmful forms which can lead to many health complications. The wrappings used in fast food industry are a significant and indirect source of PFCA contamination.
#10 – Weight Gain
Studies have found a direct link between fast food consumption and weight gain and increased Body Mass Index (BMI). The high levels of trans fat and calories present in fast foods leads to accumulation of abdominal fat and even insulin resistance which is an early indicator of diabetes. Obesity has been ranked the number one health threat for Americans; it is also the second leading cause of preventable death in United States which claims up to 400,000 lives a year. Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, blocked arteries, increase in cholesterol levels, malnutrition, loss of muscle mass and depression.
Fast food addiction can lead to an unhealthy and depressive sedentary lifestyle; to prevent this, it’s recommended to switch to a healthy and balanced diet along with regular exercise. Remember the key to happiness is a healthy lifestyle.
History of the Fast Food Industry
The concept of fast food is generally associated with urban development. However, research reveals that the trend has its roots in the bread-and-wine stands in ancient Rome and the popular ready-to-eat noodle shops in many East Asian cities. All through the ancient and medieval world, flat-bread, falafel and other heat-and-serve meals were popular attractions at roadside stands. The kiosks or brochettes that were once associated with a clientèle, from the not-so-elite strata of society, are now a part of the urban and ultra-modern lifestyle. The history of Roman antiquity reveals that bread soaked in wine and stewed vegetables, and meat were commonly sold at popinas, the eating establishments that thrived during the era. All through the Middle Ages, major urban areas in London and Paris supported stalls that sold pies, flans, pastries, pancakes and precooked meats. These outlets catered to the demands of single households and town dwellers, who rented facilities devoid of kitchens. The kiosks also catered to pilgrims and traders. Though pubs and coffee houses were popular in the western world by the 18th century, the idea of eating out for fun didn’t take off in Western society until the late 18th century. Industrialization and automation turned out to be a boon for the fast food industry as the rise of automobiles in the world also marked the rise in dining out and drive in restaurants. The two World Wars and growth in American economy firmly entrenched the concept of fast food as an American way of life. Today, the United States boasts of the largest fast food industry in the world, and more than 100 countries around the world have American-owned fast food restaurants. Fast food preparation and food servicing provides employment to approximately 2 million U.S. workers in the USA. And since the US is considered to be the capital or pioneer of the fast food industry let us take a look at a brief time-line of the fast food industry in America.
Significant Events in the US Fast Food Industry
1902: The first known food vending machines or Automat opened by Horn and Hodart in Philadelphia.
1912: Horn and Hodart become the first food chain in the US by opening an Automat in Manhattan.
1916: The first low-cost limited menu high-speed hamburger restaurant called White Castle opens in Wichita KS.
1919: A&W Root Beer becomes the first chain to start drive-in by installing road-side stalls.
1921: White Castle opens its first restaurant that sells hamburgers for 50 cents.
1930: Howard Johnson starts the concept of franchising and use of standardized menus logos or signage and advertising.
1948: In-N-Out Burger employs drive-through service using call box technology.
1951: The term fast food is recognized in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
1967: McDonald’s opens its first restaurant outside the United States in Canada and Puerto Rico.
1967: High fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that tricks the body into wanting to eat more and store more fat, appears in fast food.
1971: The first Starbucks store opens in Seattle selling high-quality coffee beans and equipment.
1991: Arby’s becomes the first fast food chain to introduce a light meal with foods under 300 calories and up to 94% fat-free.
1994: Arctic Circle becomes the first restaurant to sell Angus beef exclusively.
2002: McDonald’s cuts back on trans fat on its French fries by 48%.
2005: McDonald’s mascot Ronald ranks 2nd in the top-10 advertising icons of the 20th century.
2006: According to an estimate, Americans spend nearly $142 billion on fast food.
Overview of the Fast Food Industry
An overview of the fast food industry, highlights the availability of meals that suffice the need to eat amidst tight work schedule. This has offered great respite to parents who shuttle between work and home for major part of the day. Delicacies like fish and fries, vegetarian and non-vegetarian burgers and pizzas are washed down with great relish, with ales and aerated drinks served complimentary at many of these fast food restaurants. Though accompaniments like coleslaw, baked potatoes and mushy peas satisfy the established and widely accepted compulsion for vegetable-intake, the fried foods are becoming addictive, depriving the modern child of a balanced diet. There is no dearth with regards to the variety available at these outlets. Fast food franchise chains such as Subway, Burger King, McDonald’s, Pret-a-Manger and Pizza Hut cater to demands for seafood, lean meat, special diet meal components, and other considerable regional variations. Snacks such as sandwiches and baguettes are the result of experiments within the fast food industry. Most clientèle indulge in the semi-dry and dry meals, to avoid interruption while working or to fulfill a family commitment that otherwise requires a considerable amount of time to be spent in the kitchen.
Most fast food variants share similarities with distant cuisines and cultures. This industry now thrives on international appeal promoted by niche chains. The development of healthier alternatives to the conventional servings at fast food restaurants, has resulted in mass promotion of portable foods that can be put together by the consumers themselves. At many outlets and drive-ins, the customers can see the food being prepared, thus confirming to advertisements that flaunt hygienic standards. Standardized menus, signage and a unique ambiance are flaunted at take-away services and sit-ins all over the world. The concept of eat-on-the-go not only eliminates the need for traditional cutlery, but also enables customers to indulge in foods that are characteristic of certain cultural or ethnic traditions. The common menus include pitas, fried chicken, nuggets and tacos, served along with complimentary salads and breads. The fast food industry now operates out of convenience stores, elaborate restaurants and independent vendors, who have popularized chant sales-pitches, standardized cooking and production methods, and easy availability of low-cost delicacies.
Today, the fast food industry has become a fiercely competitive arena where brand recognition and loyalty rules. Aggressive marketing and innovative advertising has not only succeeded in making the fast food industry truly massive, but they have also drawn fire from critics ranging from their advertising strategies, to the unwanted attention from public health concerns. Fast food is well and truly a global phenomenon. With massive promotional budgets, and smart advertising by adapting to public sentiments and moods, fast food industry will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
The most evident advantage of fast food is that it saves time. In today’s fast-paced life, there is nothing better than getting a ready meal. Besides the time an individual has to spend in the kitchen, cooking a meal, also requires one to make a trip to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for the dish. Then, there is the added effort and time consumed in washing and peeling the vegetables. All this makes eating fast food more preferable over cooking a meal for a busy individual.
Saving money gives fast food an edge over the meal prepared in the kitchen. If one lives alone, then it is cheaper to buy a meal at the supermarket instead of cooking it at home. Also, certain fast foods like fries and burgers come pretty cheap.
Usually, fast food is higher in soya, fat, sugar, oil, fried meat, salt, cheese, and mayonnaise. The greatest disadvantage of fast food is the adverse effect that it has on one’s health. It is a fact that fast food is more unhealthy than home-cooked meals, as it contains higher amounts of unwanted nutrients like salt, fat and various types of additives (artificial chemicals). It may contain harmful bacteria too. Frying also destroys most of the essential nutrients from the food. Very small amounts of vegetables and fruits are present in fast food.
Moreover, ‘serving larger portions’ when most people don’t need extra portions has led to several health problems. We require a small amount of salt to maintain the health of the cells and tissues. Fast food being rich in salt, adversely affects the heart health and the overall health of an individual. Such type of food is an important contributor to obesity in the American population. Obesity is on the rise, and a direct link is being cited between fast food and obesity in children.
Given the sedentary lifestyle that we lead today, the excess fats and calories that we consume is not burnt. These accumulate in our body as fat deposits that cause complications like cardiovascular diseases and other related diseases of the heart. With obesity come other problems like high blood pressure and diseases of the joints. In fact, a recent study has shown that people who live within walking distance of a fast food restaurant are at 13% higher risk of suffering from strokes.
Fast food joints are also being seen as a factor that is making a number of families spend less and less time together. Family meal time is something that is considered as an opportunity for all the members to come together and share their experiences. However, the fast food centers are quickly eating into this quality time. This is especially true about youngsters for whom a fast food center is a good place to hangout with friends and peers.
Fast food does raise health concerns. However, if careful, you can find some options on the menu of a fast food restaurant that could be healthier. Salads are a smart choice. Go for bread products that are made from wheat bread. Opt for lean meat. If you could choose between the fried and boiled options, order the boiled preparation. Avoid ordering carbonic drinks when you are thirsty. Go for fruit juices, low-fat milk, diet soda. Is there anything better than plain water to quench your thirst?
Fast food is an invention of the modern times. Ready-made food being served fast is like a blessing after a hard day’s work. However, like everything, it has its own pros and cons. Citing a few points about the advantages of fast food does not mean that I am denying its drawbacks. It is a fact that high amounts of fats and salt in fast food are raising concerns about their adverse effect on health. However, by making some smart choices while placing the order and also resorting to an active lifestyle, we can definitely minimize the drawbacks of fast food.
Fast foods, per se, can be incredibly healthy meals, depending on the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the cook. However, the term has, in recent times, become almost synonymous with junk food, which is only appealing to the palate, loaded on unhealthy calories and has little or no nutritional value. While healthy fast foods, such as salads or soy burgers, are recommended for a wholesome daily diet, unhealthy fast foods (junk food), such as commercially sold burgers, aerated drinks, pastries and candy are harmful, and should be consumed in moderation. Children’s appetite and taste — notoriously difficult to control — can be severely affected by continual consumption of junk foods. The calorie-filled junk foods lead to obesity, which aids and abets numerous, more serious diseases.
Obesity passively promotes a sedentary lifestyle, since an obese child can’t partake in physical activities as intensely as a healthy child. Embarrassment at one’s own obesity can also force a child to become reclusive. The lack of regular exercise further increases obesity, and significantly increases the chances of the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Junk foods and aerated drinks, such as sodas, lead to increased levels of blood sugar in children. This increases the chances of acquiring type 2 diabetes, i.e., the condition of natural bodily production of insulin being unable to counter the amount of blood sugar in the body.
Type 2 diabetes increases the chances of heart diseases by up to 4 times and contributes significantly to damage to the kidneys, as well as increasing chances of dementia.
Saturated fats lead to high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is notorious for being the cause of various heart problems, and can cause major cardiac disorders.
Junk foods often contain high amounts of salts. Although they impart a mouth-watering, spicy flavor, an excess of sodium or potassium (which are irreplaceable components of salts, including sodium chloride — table salt) is prime cause for an increase in blood pressure. Disorders regarding blood pressure can have a severe inhibitory effect on an individual’s life.
The artificially induced spicy taste is said to be addictive. Children used to junk food may have trouble adjusting their palate to the relatively blander healthy foods.
Fresh fruits and vegetables supply vital nutrients and energy, which is required for the developing bodies of children. A deficiency of iron, for example, can lead to anemia. Anemia, combined with the overload of complex sugars and saturated fats found in any sample junk food, can lead to a weak and habitually lethargic child.
The virtually total absence of green (leafy) vegetables and fresh fruits in the diet causes a deficiency of macro- and micro-nutrient supplements in the body. This damages the body’s immune system and leaves children susceptible to various diseases and ailments.
Deficiency of calcium damages the teeth, nails and bones, reducing bone density and increasing the chances of skeletal damage and tooth decay.
As stated earlier, fast food doesn’t necessarily mean junk food. Salads, fruits (preferably fresh and whole/sliced, or else in the form of fresh fruit juice), nuts and non-processed cheese can make for healthy and tasty quick-snacks. Including more veggies and fruits in meals never hurts, although kids are likely to reject the relatively bland alternatives in favor of spicier junk foods, even if the blander options are the healthier ones. Habituating children to healthy foods without introducing junk foods from a young age is the most reliable and effective way to keep the kids off junk food, without having to admonish them. Studies have suggested that even heavy consumption of junk food by a pregnant woman can result in the child being predisposed to favor the taste.
If you can’t get your children off unhealthy fast foods, you can at least make healthier choices for them.
Getting a pizza without the usual extra cheese would go a long way. Nobody can taste the extra cheese anyway!
Burgers can be ordered with a single patty instead of the usual double, and with extra lettuce (or coleslaw), tomatoes and onions.
Whole wheat bread contains much more fiber than the white counterpart, and thus aids digestion. Making (or ordering) sandwiches made from whole wheat bread is a healthier option.
Grilled, baked and roasted meats are a better option than the fried varieties. This is due to the absence of frying oil, which contains saturated fats. This also applies to other foods that are usually fried, but can be prepared without oil, such as potatoes.
Homemade ‘junk food’ can be prepared in healthier ways, such as reducing the amount of spices, sugar and salts, or using low-fat dairy products. Freshly cooked, homemade junk foods are inherently healthier than their commercially sold avatars.
Although soups are universally agreed to be one of the healthiest foods, cream adds to their calorie content, negating their benefits. Soups without cream are undoubtedly one of the healthiest and most filling foods.
Alternatives will help decrease adverse effects, even when resigned to giving in to your children’s clamor for junk foods. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the craving for the spicy tastes is only natural, and banishing fast foods completely may only serve to fuel the craving. While junk foods are, without doubt, harmful if consumed continually, occasionally indulging in the sinful pleasure is fine. A parent-approved frequency of eating processed junk foods can also teach children the important lesson of moderation.
Food Styling: Where Cuisine Meets Art
Food styling mainly deals with ‘dressing up’ foods for photography or shooting. The aim is to make foods look visually extremely appealing. You wouldn’t eat anything that does not look visually appealing, no matter how great it tastes. Similarly, something that looks yummy, makes you hungry almost immediately. The recipes appearing in cookbooks wouldn’t seem so delicious, if it weren’t for the accompanying images. You feel like trying out the recipe simply by looking at the glossy picture of the dish. In reality, that recipe may not look as appealing or may not even taste that good. What is more, sometimes the ‘food’ in the image may be something different altogether! For instance, the maple syrup on the pancake in the image of this article could very well be motor oil, or the ice-cream scoop could be made out of mashed potatoes and confectioner’s sugar! Such tricks are used by food stylists to make ordinary food look extremely tempting. They make use of various props and settings to render the desired look to foods.
Beginning Your Journey as a Food Stylist
Food styling is an advanced culinary art. You need more than a chef’s hat to make a career out of this art. First of all, you need to have a passion for food and love for art. You need a great imagination and an eye for detail. While styling food, you do not follow a set method for dressing foods. Everyday, you experiment with different foods and props and come up with innovative ideas. Hence, before taking up a career as a food stylist make sure you possess the required qualities, some of which are presented below.
Ability to Think Out-of-the-Box
As mentioned above, you ought to have good imagination to be able to come up with innovative ideas. You should be able to think what ‘non-food’ items can substitute for real foods or in which setting a food can look best or what are the props that can be used and so on. You should also be able to think of the ways, in which you can render special effects to food. For instance, say if you wish to style a piping hot beverage with steam erupting from it. Now, a camera lens cannot capture steam erupting from foods, and even if it does, the effect can never be the same. In such cases, you should be able to come up with innovative ways to render a natural effect.
Ability to Implement Your Culinary Knowledge
Food stylists are people with strong culinary background. However, simply knowing stuff is not enough. You should be able to implement your culinary knowledge while dressing up the dishes. As a chef or a culinary expert, you should know what ingredients can render the best visual appeal to the food. Accordingly, you should be able to substitute these ingredients in your recipe. For instance, substituting cream for milk renders a richer, creamier look to the recipe and also makes it less soggy.
Ability to Work in Team
Food styling involves the efforts of many people. As a food stylist, you will be required to work with many professionals such as photographers, chefs, directors, etc. Thus, you should be able to collaborate with these people and deliver the required results.
Ability to Work at Odd Hours
As mentioned above, food photography involves many people. Thus, you may have to work as per the convenience of your team members. Besides, as this job deals with food, a perishable entity, the whole process of styling and shooting food needs to be completed quickly, as food items start to lose their freshness within minutes of cooking or baking.
While these were some of the personal qualities required for a food stylist, you also need to satisfy certain criteria of formal education to be able to start a career as a food stylist.
Graduating from Culinary School
In order to become a food stylist, you will first need to obtain your degree or diploma from a reputed culinary school. This program introduces you to the delights of cooking, baking and several other culinary aspects. This knowledge forms the basis for a food styling career.
Acquiring a Diploma in Culinary Arts
This is an advanced diploma which focuses on the artistic aspects of food. Here, you will be introduced to various styles of food styling, background styling and also learn the nuances of food photography. Besides, you will gain a hands-on experience in food styling through various projects and lessons.
After completing your formal education, you can start styling food under the guidance of an expert food stylist, instead of starting on your own. This will help you understand the tricks of the trade and familiarize you with the industry. As a food stylist, you can get an opportunity to work for advertising agencies, restaurants, magazines, etc. You can aim to earn anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 a year, or even more with some experience.