Context: I have been thinking about food culture for a while and recently, I heard Magnus Nilsson (chef) say something that completely aligned with my thoughts: "After one generation there will be no one left who knows what to do with their hand. After three generations, we might have photos [of meals]…but you can’t go back to see how people did something with food like you can with art or sculpture.. Food culture is very special- [it is the] very most important cultural manifestation that we have because we [all] have to eat." - Chef's Table (documentary film)
Research Highlights: During the research phase of this challenge, there was a range of fantastic ideas that included healthy activities, food and other avenues to promote healthy lifestyles. As I contemplated on this research for the ideas phase, I wanted to know where to focus my efforts-- food? healthy activities? wearables for health? To help answer this question, I had a series of discussions with friends/ family members including those who practice medicine in areas of different socioeconomic and multicultural groups. Here is what I learned:
Many multicultural groups are generally not proactive about their health. There are many reasons why this is the case, including:
- Access to care
- Sense of urgency, e.g. need to worry about now, not something 5 years from now
- Cultural nuances, e.g. don't go to doctors because people will think I am flawed
Although this is not an exhaustive list or the result of extensive, statistically sound research, it does provide some insights that are useful. First, it confirms my beliefs that food is a critical avenue to promote healthy lifestyle. Food fits within the window of time called "now"and thus brings with it a consistent and reliable mindshare of individuals. Second, food harnesses the positive influence of culture and community as opposed to potentially negative influences of community, as illustrated in the example above.
A platform that lets users capture and grow family traditions (food, special occasions, etc.)
Here's how it could work:
Content Creation to Link Food Culture with Healthy Meals
- Users can create a family profile, invite family members to join and contribute content in specific food related areas (ingredients, recipes / meal preparation, etc.).
- Content can be tagged or enriched with additional data. Examples include occasion (e.g., bat mitzvah), allergens, reviews / comments, substitute or rate ingredients, health score, etc.
- Users can also subscribe to content "channels" in the app, e.g. Indian Diwali celebration meals, Diabetic-friendly Latin foods, etc.
- Content channels could be generated in two ways: 1) Within the app, by mining the data submitted across users and 2) By leveraging media (e.g. NBC Universal, Telemundo, etc.) ability to periodically post famous chefs recommendations on healthy ingredients / substitutes or preparation options for popular foods.
Strengthen Family Traditions through Food Culture
- Create a digital family repository of their family traditions that can be shared with new family members , examples: newlyweds
- Pass on a digital repository for future generations
- Discover new recipes and add new traditions
- Allow users to communicate with each other through the app, not only one-to-one but also the ability to share ideas or pose questions to groups of people in a virtual community center
- Allow the creation / visualization of virtual potlucks, where the sharing of recipes can be seen as they are shared and you can receive post cards from your recipes on where they have been