Pinterest has become more than an online mood board; for many, it functions like a cookbook, a cookbook on food porn and twine wrapped sandwich steroids.
But wait, there's more!
The site recently announced a new search function, which allows users to search for food based on certain eating preferences and filter for vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian and even paleo recipes.
And if you think the site is just for health freaks, think again. You know how popular those salted caramel covered chocolate cakes are. That's why there's a new Indulge Me button, which is basically indulgent recipe roulette.
What's interesting about the search functions isn't just the technological aspect, it's the categories that made it onto the search filter list. Vegetarian food has long been an option on many food websites, but paleo? That shows the upswing that the paleo diet has had over the last few years, for better or for worse.
But does Pinterest really change how people eat? The visual aspect of eating does affect what you consume, and certainly all those salad photos and lists of what to eat and what not to eat are inspirational for dining better, but ultimately we're still dealing with a very serious public health problem. In fact 9 out of 10 Americans think that they eat a healthy diet, and yet more than 35 percent of Americans are obese. To say there's a bit of a disconnect here would be an understatement.
On the other end of the spectrum, some experts say that social media is driving teenage girls to eating disorders (those svelte model photos on Pinterest maybe aren't so inspirational after all), and as it turns out, many of us are so tied to our social media sites that we now eat dinner while surfing the web. In other words, eating your bowl of paleo-friendly dinner while looking for more paleo recipes.
No matter what diet or eating lifestyle you personally subscribe to, our societal relationship to food needs to change, and in a big way, and Pinterest is only going to be one part of that process. Because no matter how hard you try, you can't filter out unhealthy eating habits and obesity with one click of a mouse.
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