Brown food – not exactly the first thing you would think of when asked to picture an exciting new trend. But that’s exactly what it is.

Spearheaded on Instagram and Pinterest, this new trend is celebrating brown food in all of its forms, including family favourites such as sausage and mash and Yorkshire puddings.

Brown food on the Saucy Dressings Instagram page

One of the biggest proponents is a Saucy Dressings favourite, Nigella Lawson:

Of course, Instagram is a visual medium, no less than television, so it’s always going to favour photogenic food, but still, it can make a cook despair. When I post a picture of a stew, I feel I have to remind people – who find the messy brownness unappealing – that 1) stews are brown and 2) brown food tastes the best. It doesn’t really matter to me whether people post pictures of stews on Instagram or Pinterest, but it does worry me if they stop cooking them. Not because it would be a bad thing, but because it would be a sad thing.

It’s no surprise that Nigella is such a fan – many of her recipes are family-friendly meals that bring joy to the whole table. The majority of her cooking is all about fuss-free cooking that shows that there is still pleasure to be had in traditional food cooked in a home kitchen. And, most importantly, they’re comfortingly delicious.


Fighting Against the Algorithm

It seems that the brown food movement is deliberately trying to find food that tastes delicious, but isn’t photo and Instagram-friendly. Instead of creating colourful smoothies – which are put into bowls because they’re considered more photogenic than glasses – plates of mince and tatties and plain old meat and veg – are being celebrated.

Bright smoothie bowls are the epitome of Instagram-friendly foods

The celebration of brown food seems to go against the popular idea that the brighter the dish, the healthier it is. However, brown and beige food items such as bananas, oats, nuts, and seeds are all perfectly healthy, even if they’re not quite as eye-catching.


Waste Not Want Not

It’s not just about taste and health, though. According to a 2017 national supermarket study,  20% of those under 35 admit to wasting the most food after a big shopping trip, compared with 8% of 55- to 64-year-olds and just 7% of the 65-plus age group. This might not only be due to generational differences (such as older generations being taught to create meal plans), but because younger generations are more likely to create unusual, Instagram-friendly meals that use ingredients that are harder to use in multiple dishes.

Popular dishes at Instagram-friendly restaurants also tend to be wasteful. Freakshakes are an Instagram invention – enormous milkshakes topped with entire slices of cake, doughnuts, and sweets. However, they are so large that it is very difficult to finish one. The popularity of the brown food trend could be influenced by the recent push towards reducing food waste, and the creation of meals that may not look as impressive, but are infinitely better to eat in terms of size and flavour.

Whatever the reason, brown food is here to stay.


Brown Food on Saucy Dressings