Instagram insanity: Third of social media users order food just to take pictures — but don’t eat it!

NEW YORK — It seems that kids aren’t the only ones who play with their food instead of eating it. A new study reveals over one in three people admit they’ve ordered food they didn’t actually eat so they could post a picture of it on social media.

In a survey of 2,000 people, 40 percent admit to uploading images of food or beverages that they themselves did not consume. Another 19 percent confess that they never had any intention of eating the item in the first place. Twenty-seven percent of respondents add their desire to post better-looking food photos online has led to a change in their diet over the years.

It’s all about the likes

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of California Figs, the survey finds that 57 percent of people will physically move or rearrange a dish to get the best photo angle. Six in 10 (59%) have stopped friends from digging in just to grab a photo of their order first or know someone who did the same thing to them.

Researchers also explored how respondents are affected by what they see on social media. More than half the poll (53%) have been inspired to try a recipe after seeing it on their feed or timeline.

The most common examples include nostalgic recipes from past decades (22%), plant-based alternatives to meat (22%), and those featuring trendy fruits (21%). One respondent adds the current TikTok trend of watermelon and mustard is something that they’ve tried after seeing it on social media. Eighty-five percent of respondents have experienced cravings for a food they’ve seen on social media.

“It’s no surprise social media continues to influence people’s habits in unexpected and unique ways, including food trends. What we found enlightening was the importance of photogenic foods and how that has impacted the rise in popularity of foods like figs,” says Karla Stockli, CEO of the California Fig Advisory Board, in a statement.

Is social media the 21st century cookbook?

Although respondents typically notice photos of pizza (41%), burgers (37%), and specialty cocktails (30%) on social media, one in six say photogenic fruits like figs and yuzu make frequent appearances in their feeds.

In fact, two in three respondents who’ve seen fig-based recipes on social media say it inspired them to try the fruit for themselves. Social media is also increasingly important as a tool for researching new recipes; 54 percent of those polled use social media to do this most often — putting it behind general internet searches (62%) and above traditional cookbooks (44%), in terms of popularity.

“Social media can open people up to new tastes and experiences, allowing them to broaden their horizons and discover a love for something that they may not have tried before,” Stockli continues. “One trend we can directly attribute to social media is the increase of figs on pizza. They’re full of fiber and different vitamins, so they’re a great way to add a healthy spin on a classic dish — fresh figs are also seasonal, so there’s only a few more months in the year to try them, and join the others on social media. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out!”