What’s Social Media Have to do with Food Allergies?

In our first blog post as new members of the Beekeeper team, Salomone and I discussed our shared experiences with allergies to tree nuts.  Since that time, my colleagues here have encouraged me to pursue something I have wanted to do for a while now: start a blog with tips, advice, and recipes for people like me who have restrictive food allergies.  (I am hoping to officially launch the blog soon, so stay tuned!)

The process of developing my personal blog led me to ponder what intersections exist between our individual food choices and how we use social media. For example, if we consider personal memories surrounding food, we see deep social connections being made around what we eat. This could include anything from telling stories about old family recipes to sharing a special meal with friends.  It makes sense that social networks, which play an important role in today’s social connections, could conversely influence the way we think about food.

For the members of the food allergy community like me, there are many resources available through blogs and social networks that can provide support. I have found a lot of success finding groups that cater to specific food allergies on Twitter.  For example, hash tags such as #gfree, #glutenfree, and #celiac can lead to innumerable resources from the gluten-free community.  These communities on Twitter tend to be highly responsive, so ask a question using one of the popular hash tags, and hopefully you will get some helpful responses!

If you’re interested in this topic, then check out these tips I found in an article about key trends in this intersection of food and technology:

•    Customized recommendations: Based on previous choices, diet preferences, and the like: Food On the Table and Foursquare Explore
•    Food source transparency and education: Food Sprout, QR codes on vegetables, Snooth (wine education)
•    Networked objects, cooking instruments: There may come a day when we receive mobile alerts that we’re running out of milk or eggs. For now, the iGrill is the first grilling/cooking thermometer and app that transmits temperature measures to your smartphone through a Bluetooth connection
•    Reviving food traditions and DIY craft: Learning to make kimchee or cheese, brew beer, or grow a hydroponic vegetable garden is more accessible than ever. Enter David Chang’s Lucky Peach, Lovefre.sh, and Maangshi’s Korean Cooking Show
•    Increasing accessibility to locally-grown foods: Real Time Farms, Greenling and Relay

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