Within the past few years, it’s become pretty clear that millennials are the foodie generation. Food-related things like avocado toast, farm-to-table eating, foodstagrams and meal prep services didn’t exist until us "darn millennials" started growing up, and organic sales have almost tripled in the past decade. For millennials, this fascination with food comes from a long list of things, one being a sense of community.

Eve Turow, author of “A Taste of Generation Yum: How the Millennial Generation’s Love for Organic Fare, Celebrity Chefs, and Microbrews Will Make or Break the Future of Food,” told The Atlantic that she suspects, “that in a digital-first era, many [Millennials] latch onto food as something that engages all of the senses and brings people together in physical space.”

Of course, social media is responsible for #foodporn, but being a foodie is more than posting a photo of your brunch or Snapchatting your friends with the dancing hot dog filter (you know the one) over the pizza you just made. Millennial foodies, simply put, eat responsibly, and they're proudly changing the food industry. 

Social Media Has Created a Sense of Community

I can’t help but agree with Turow that millennials are likely craving a deeper sense of community. Think about it: YouTube has taken off in the past few years because every day, millennials are creating videos of themselves that start relatable conversations.

Being an “influencer” on both YouTube and Instagram has become a booming job industry, and it all leads back to millennials fueling various communities across these platforms, from beauty and fashion to comedy and entertainment.

It’s the same with food. A 2014 study done by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Georgia Tech on Pinterest show that the most popular category among both men and women is Food & Drink. On Instagram, people create Instagram accounts that are entirely dedicated to food, and these accounts follow and interact with one another, establishing a sense of community.

In the same interview with The Atlantic, Turow revealed that Anthony Bourdain told her that he posts photos of food for mainly three reasons: "to share the experience with friends, to develop [his] brand as a food writer and maybe, if [he’s] being honest with [him]self, to show off."

I have to agree with him 100 percent, even about the showing off. Branding ourselves and our lives as interesting and exciting ones on social media is something that we all do, and food is no exception. It’s part of our personal brand. 

The US Organic Industry is Experiencing Record Sales

Thanks to millennials, the organic food industry is booming. According to an Organic Trade Association (OTA) survey on the organic buying habits of US households, “parents in the 18 to 34-year-old age range are now the biggest group of organic buyers in America.

This has led organic food sales to nearly triple over the past decade – a decade in which Millennials were making their own money and spending it on what they truly value. 

The OTA also found that millennials account for 52 percent of organic buyers, while generation X accounts for 35 percent and the baby boomers account for just 14 percent. This statistic alone speaks volumes about the kind of food that millennials are seeking – natural, preservative and additive free, and just downright good for the body and mind. 

Meal Kit Delivery Services are Challenging Traditional Grocery Stores

We millennials are all about maximizing the value of our time. This being said, meal kit delivery servicces and food delivery services are incredibly appealing to us because it cuts out some-to-all of the time that would be spent in the kitchen cooking a more traditional homemade meal. 

While food delivery services like UberEats, Postmates and Grub Hub are insanely popular among millennials (hello! good food and convenience), the cost is a bit higher than what you would pay for a meal at the grocery store. This is where meal prep kits come in.

Blue Apron, which launched just a few years back in 2012, was the first meal kit that had ever popped up on my radar. Since then, there have been loads more that are just like it. This is because millennials have created a thriving market for these services.

The bulk of these services focus on fresh and healthy ingredients that arrive prepped and ready to go – this means no chopping, peeling, or grating of any kind. This makes cooking easy, and rewarding, and, most importantly, you don’t have to spend an hour in the kitchen every night just to achieve a great meal.

With the rise of meal kits, along with falling sales for products that rest in the middle aisles at grocery stores, grocers are being challenged by consumers and competition. 

In an article by USA Today, Andy Levitt, CEO of Purple Carrot (a vegan meal-kit company) said that, "When you're not going into the grocery store, the grocer is losing out on the opportunity to capture more impulse purchases and realizing, 'Also, we need that and that. You spend $100 more than you planned to when you walked into that grocery store."

So it’s good for you and your wallet, but bad for your local grocery store. It's leading some grocery stores, in an effort to catch up, create their own meal kits.

Big Companies are Starting to Shift With Trends

According to Forbes, because many classic, household brands are seeing sales decline, many of them have become dedicated to meeting the millennial consumer’s needs. 

To name a few, Dannon created their own supply chain so they could deliver non-GMO yogurts to US consumers. Costco has invested in their own chicken farms to provide antibiotic-free, cage-free poultry to the public. Kraft Foods has promised to remove all synthetic colors and artificial preservatives from its cult classic mac' and cheese, which I am particularly ecstatic about. Tyson also announced plans to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in their chicken. 

Even big companies like Kroger made changes. In an effort to adapt to the demand for more trustworthy food, they created Simple Truth, a brand of natural food. According to Fortune, the line grew to $1.2 billion in annual sales in just two years.

However, the change to become a “natural” brand is just a small step in the right direction as far as millennials are concerned.

As a millennial foodie, seeing these giant brands begin to adapt to changes in customer interests is truly exciting.

"Casual" Dining Chains Are Losing to Local and “Fast-Casual” Restaurants

Grocery stores aren’t the only players in the food industry that need to be worried about the future of their company. Millennials are seeking fresh, naturally-grown and raised food from restaurants as well. While “fast-casual” restaurants such as Chipotle and Shake Shack are flourishing, classic “casual” dining chains like Applebee’s, Red Lobster, and Buffalo Wild Wings are taking a severe hit.

According to the Business Insider, Bloomin' Brands, the parent company of casual dining chains Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, will close 43 locations after a "challenging" 2016.” And earlier in 2017, Ruby Tuesdays was also seeking a new CEO and in the process of selling 95 restaurants due to declining sales. 

While the success of these “fast-casual” restaurants is in part due to the millennial consumer’s desire for a quick experience, it is also thanks to the openness about where the restaurant ingredients come from.

Chipotle, although riddled by some food health and safety issues, has always been upfront about where their ingredients are sourced, how they’re prepared, and what exactly is in everything – which is exactly what millennials are looking for.

Traditional Food and Beverage Companies Are Taking a Beating

For those traditional big brands that aren’t adapting to consumer desires, there’s a price to be paid. According to research done by Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow featured on Fortune.com, “the top 25 US food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share since 2009.” 

In fact, Campbell’s CEO bought Bolthouse Farms and Plum Organics in efforts to move the company away from artificial preservatives and toward a fresher, healthier approach. This was after the brand’s US share dropped from 49 percent in 2005 to 42 percent in 2014. 

With fewer and fewer people shopping at grocery stores, big brands such as General Mills, Kraft, and Campbells are being forced to rethink their approach and change their “formulas” to more natural recipes. 

While this might be a pain for these companies, the natural direction that the food industry is heading in will positively impact the health of citizens across the country.

“Organic” and “Natural” Have Become More Important Than “Reduced” and “Low-Calorie”

Millennials want more out of food, which is why advertising health benefits has become essential for companies. In fact, products with the words “diet,” “light,” “low,” or “reduced” in their names experienced a decline in sales by 11 percent in 2013, according to Nielsen.

Lean Cuisine experienced this kind of dip in sales a few years back, and, in response, they created their Marketplace line to give the “modern health benefits” consumers are looking for, which include gluten-free, organic, high-protein, or extra-veggie options. 

The move from focusing on “diet-friendly” foods to foods that are actually nutritious has only happened in the past few years, which justifies even further that mMillennials are the foodie generation that cares about what they’re putting in their bodies.

Also, the fact that companies are actually taking note of these modern consumer desires is completely amazing because it has the potential to totally change eating habits across the country in the best, most health-beneficial way possible. And y'all thought millennials were selfish.

Millennials are the foodie generation, and every piece of the above information makes an incredibly strong case for how they're changing the industry. Yes, being a foodie often means trying bougie new restaurants, keeping up with Kylie Jenner on Snapchat, and eating your way. But for millennials, it's more than that.  

Being a foodie means knowing where your food came from, recognizing every ingredient in a meal, and supporting livestock that is raised ethically and naturally, even if it costs a few extra dollars. Millennials are the foodie generation, and we’ve just begun our journey to radically change the food industry in the best way imaginable.