1b – Food: Substance Vs. Functionality

The future has the potential to appear scary from the perspective of society today. Whilst we are already struggling with the likes of food waste, and food production, acknowledging the estimated growth of civilization puts a larger strain and level of stress on these issues.

After engaging in a variety of Sci-Fi films, a new range of perspectives about the future were brought to life. The film, ‘The Giver’ paints a picture of a seemingly idyllic world of conformity and contentment. Set in a strictly controlled environment, members of society are individually directed and constantly under strict instruction and guidance.  This idea of a ‘controlled environment’ became an interesting point of thinking for me after watching the film. For example, the film brought to life the idea of the lack of ability society had to choose what they wanted to eat. Instead they received a meal through a high-tech passage, packaged in glass containers. Having this element of control over society is interesting to think about as it suggests that society cannot lead their own carefree life, as this would place too much pressure on the environment. Instead the governing body must take full control to ensure that society can keep on living comfortably.

Aside from the films which depict varying ideas about the future, it is important to draw on aspects of the present day as a way to drive my thoughts and predictions about the future. The Australian food culture, is all about bringing people together, enjoying and appreciating food whilst socializing with friends, family and at times even the chefs. At my local sushi bar, I interact with the sashimi chef. However, after some research into this food culture and how it differs and is evolving throughout other countries, I discovered a restaurant in Japan, ‘Uobei Genki Sushi’. The dining experience offered here is definitely futuristic and completely different to the traditional sushi train we are familiar with today. Sushi is ordered through a touch screen, with the option of several different languages. Once placing your order through these machines, your food appears in front of you at “lightning speed”.


Furthermore, after looking into the Sushi Bar’s Instagram presence, I found an interesting post which shines light on the issue of food and socialization.  The caption accompanying the post reinforces the notion of eating as a means of bringing people together to socialize. Australian instagrammer, ‘Everydaycurator’ states that “while it’s novel to order once via the screen… it’s not the most social (or relaxing) way to eat.” This is what food culture is beginning to evolve into.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 10.08.10 PM

When referring back to the article ‘Food and Eating: An Anthropological Perspective’, Robert Fox raises some interesting statements surrounding the social aspect of food. He states that “because eating is almost always a group event, food becomes a focus of symbolic activity about sociality and our place in society.” After reading this assertion and comparing it with my research into ‘Uobei Sushi bar’, it is apparent that there is a significant shift surrounding food and its functionality in society. Instead I am more influenced by Roland Barthes’ opinion that “food…will lose in substance and gain in function”. In other words, food culture will become more focused on functionality rather than as a means to relax and bring people together.

By Ellen Abignano

Reference List:

Apetite for Japan, 2017, ‘Uobei Genki Sushi: Lightning Fast Sushi in Japan’, viewed 29 September 2017, <https://appetiteforjapan.com/2016/01/31/uobei-genki-sushi/>

Fox, Robin. “Food and Eating: An Anthropological Perspective.” Food and Eating: An Anthropological Perspective.

Roland Barthes, “Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption,” in Food and Culture: A Reader, edited by C. Counihan and P. Van Esterik. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Instagram, 2017, Everydaycurator, viewed 29 September 2017, <https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ_QJT4g8wv/?taken-by=everydaycurator&gt;







2 thoughts on “1b – Food: Substance Vs. Functionality

  1. I think this restaurant is indicating a real movement towards this robot age…This restaurant setting offers no ability to interact with people, you are simply sitting in front of a screen and a wall. To me this would have little to no atmosphere. Atmosphere is something I really look for when picking somewhere to eat! For example if I walk past a restaurant with only 2 people dining inside I am immediately turned off as I would rather dine somewhere that is packed full with people. Interesting to think about



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