In thinking about things I did differently in 2019, one thing I tried NOT to do too much was use the new breed of food delivery services out in market. I decided to go back and read an article from August in The Atlantic titled “The Booming, Ethically Dubious Business of Food Delivery: Meal-delivery companies are the ultimate symbol of the most powerful force in business today: convenience maximalism.”
Online including food delivery is surging, and eating in is the new dining out.
According to the article, “the U.S. food industry has seen a major turning point in the past few years and is about to see another. In 2015, for the first time on record, Americans spent more money at restaurants than at grocery stores. In dense urban areas, restaurants are literally eating the urban retail budget. Food-service locations have accounted for 40 percent of all new leases in Manhattan this year, more than clothing stores, banks, and health clubs combined, according to data from the real-estate company Cushman & Wakefield. Yesterday’s Gap is becoming tomorrow gastropub.”
The bigger change however is what we are seeing now, and will continue to grow in 2020, where the Atlantic predicts that more than half of restaurant spending is projected to be “off premise” meaning not inside the restaurant. In other words, spending on deliveries, drive-throughs, and takeaway meals will soon overtake dining inside restaurants, for the first time on record. According to the investment group Cowen and Company, off-premise spending will account for as much as 80 percent of the industry’s growth in the next five years.
My main issue with this, is it makes me think about the scene from the Disney/Pixar movie Wall-E where all the humans become so lazy as the technology does all the work for them. I love eating in. I love my kids asking to stay home and hang for dinner. I love that they even choose shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or other food related content on TV over action movies and crappy modern day sitcoms. Food has become a “cool” and “trendy” lifestyle topic. But when they ask to use Uber Eats or other services rather than cook it themselves, or…wait for it…walk the few blocks to pick up take out, are we really teaching them anything but to be super lazy?
I get working late the odd night, a bad snow storm, feeling sick or any other legit reason to take advantage of these convenient services. But when it’s a nice calm spring or summer evening is it really that hard to get of the sofa and walk (or even drive yourself) to get your dinner?
Not only our health, but what about the health of the environment. In this age of “local” and “farm-to-table” concepts, do food delivery services deserve to grow at the rate they are? According to the Atlantic, “Meal-delivery companies are a symbol of what might be the most powerful force in business today: convenience maximalism.”
Yes, we all want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it, but we need to be better informed about the dark underbelly of the convenience economy. Think about the garbage and waste from the materials used to deliver it to our homes like cardboard and plastic. Think of the burning of more fossil fuels to get it yet to another location. For now, these issues will be a by-product of our desire for instant gratification.
PS – have you listened to my podcast yet?
Originally posted on December 31, 2019 here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-fear-tech-laziness-ruining-experience-eating-affecting-corby-fine/