Foodie Underground: Social Media Savvy, Healthy Fast Food?


Twitter changed how foodies found out about the latest and greatest taco truck, leading to an influx of underground culinary aficionados, professional and amateur, being constantly informed of the up and coming hole-in-the-walls and where to get a city’s best authentic ethnic lunch for under $5. Don’t be shy, admit to your many TweetDeck columns that help you decide where you’re going for lunch.

Social media might help in getting the word out (along with a whole slew of other benefits), and its word-of-mouth nature certainly facilitates in keeping up to speed on what your foodie friends (and people you aspire to be friends with in real life) are eating and loving, but can it change how we think about food?

That’s part of the idea behind 4Food, an operation that’s trying to “de-junk” junk food, by providing healthy, fresh and local food alternatives while at the same time “revolutionizing counter culture, in real-time.” What exactly does that mean? 4Food lays it out like this:

  • We upgrade food that people already eat – burgers, nuggets, fries, salads and teas-transforming them into new menu items that are convenient, and almost infinitely customizable to our guests’ lifestyles and cultural preferences. Our food is measurably healthier than existing products.
  • Dynamic Menu Boards reduce waste and enable us to feature seasonal and occasional products.
  • Advanced, web-based technologies allow us to make personalized recommendations that meet our guest’s nutrition and lifestyle goals.
  • Fresh, local produce is transformed into our menu offerings in the Community Kitchen Commissary-a vocational training center.
  • We build with natural construction materials that are abundant and regenerative.

Like any truly networked food operation, 4Food is already hitting the Twitterverse, creating a buzz around their August 9 opening at 40th and Madison in New York City. Their website gives a pretty solid rundown of their credo, citing important things like composting in-store, no artificial sweeteners or flavor enhancers, no fried food and in the true spirit of the local food movement, “if it’s soy, it’s not Monsanto.”

But what’s the potential that 4Food will change what we eat and how we think about what we eat? That will probably depend on two things: branching out into a wider demographic than NYC-based foodies and engaging the general public via social media to truly get a conversation going about food. On the conversation side of things, so far so good, as 4 Food has already been asking its social media community for creative ideas on how they would “de-junk NYC.”

If the idea works and affects positive change in diverse demographics, we could be looking at a game changer in the fast food movement. Until then, keep an eye on Twitter and stay away from those traditional fast food joints – you know better!

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.

Image: ebruli

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.