Unicorn lollies and six million avocados: our insatiable appetite for Instafood

By Lisa Markwell

As a new exhibition charts our obsession with photographing food, we look at the hottest dishes, the dark side of Instagrammed cupcakes and how social media is changing the way we eat

We’ll never know what the photographer Irving Penn would have made of #foodporn. The master of still-life photography died in 2009, and Instagram wasn’t born until the following year.

Instagram, of course, is the favoured social media outlet for photographs of food, and #foodporn is one of its most-used hashtags, with 130m posts and rising. Penn was doing it seven decades ago – memorable among his early images are Ingredients for a Beef Stew (1947-48); The Empty Plate (1949) and thereafter shots of steaks, lobsters, frogs’ legs and all manner of other good things. He even photographed a pizza (which is now the world’s most Instagrammed dish, followed by sushi, steak, burgers and bacon).

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