The Food Network (FN) posted its highest-rated, most-watched month ever in August 2009 and according to Nielson, was ranked the ninth-highest-rated cable network in prime time across all age groups during the first quarter of 2010. "When many people turn on the television set, as opposed to picking up a book or doing something more interactive, they're looking for a passive, mind-resting experience. They want something that doesn't require close attention, the way a twisty plot might. Something akin to visual music. Something ambient, in a way… Much food television gives them that. It's a banquet of colorful, seductive, and familiar images, presented rhythmically, with a soundtrack of oohs and aahs.” –Frank Bruni, former NYT food criticSource: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/08/why-do-we-watch-food-television.htmlHow this study started:Amanda and I have done several studies over the years about how people make decisions about food. We both have an agricultural communication background. We’re interested in how people process food recalls. So we started working on a USDA grant proposal to study the impact of Food Network on perceptions and understanding of food safety. The CDC estimates that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Known pathogens account for an estimated 14 million illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths. Three pathogens, Salmonella, Listeria, andToxoplasma, are responsible for 1,500 deaths each year, more than 75% of those caused by known pathogens, while unknown agents account for the remaining 62 million illnesses, 265,000 hospitalizations, and 3,200 deaths. (CDC)Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol5no5/mead.htmThere are plenty of food safety education efforts out there. In fact, I was on a USDA grant proposal earlier this year between three institutions to empower life sciences faculty to educate students how to properly translate food safety issues to the media and the public to create a larger, more deeper understanding of food consumption habits; food recalls and alerts; proper packaging, storage, and cooking temperatures; food-borne illness; food poisoning; and safe food supplies. This project will ultimately train future scientists how to translate much-needed food safety issues. But Amanda and I have long been convinced that you have to reach audiences with these behavioral messages where they are. They are watching FN. But, in writing this grant, we realized that we didn’t really know how FN dealt with food safety in relation to its overall programming. Was food safety a focus? We had our ideas, but e didn’t have the evidence to back it up. So this is a simple exploratory study. The goal was to take a look at FN programming and see what was there with the idea that this study would lead to more in-depth research on effects.
52% Female, 48% Male 56% of the audience is between 25 and 5426% graduated college or more 64% are employed (FT and PT) 40% make $75,000 or more 26% make $100,000 or more 74% own their own residence 57% married 79% white, 10% blackThis data is from the Simmons Market Research Bureau’s National Consumer Study
With poor eating behavior as a leading cause for heart disease, cancers, strokes, and diabetes, experts have called for bridging nutrition education and interest in the culinary arts.Oddly, while Americans are preparing and eating fewer of their meals at home, they are increasingly interested in television shows teaching them how to buy, prepare, and consume food. This interest in food television has resulted in the explosion of celebrity chefs, culinary cook-offs, and shifting food consumption trends – drastically changing the world of food. Demonstrating this new fascination with food, The Food Network (FN) posted its highest-rated, most-watched month ever in August 2009 and according to Nielson, was ranked the ninth-highest-rated cable network in prime time across all age groups during the first quarter of 2010. In addition, the recent popularity of food specialty television has prompted the network to launch a spin-off network, The Cooking Channel, which is aimed at reaching a “hipper crowd interested in the grass roots of food culture.”
The increasing demand for food specialty television demonstrates the potential influence and cultivation effects that this medium can have on lifestyles, health behaviors, and individual well-being. Contrary to conventional nutrition education efforts, food television has the ability to combine entertainment and education through an accessible medium using applicable messages, which has been cited as a solution to “creating and maintaining healthy eating practices”.Although basic awareness of healthy eating practices has not proven successful in changing behaviors, hands-on cooking and tasting demonstrations appear to be more propitious. Combining food education with an experience provides viewers with a culinary confidence, including control over the ingredients purchased, a familiarity with various preparation techniques, and an appreciation for the foods consumed.
Ketchum (2005) points to a growing genre of television including instructional programs and “domesticity-themed makeover programs” which promote consumptionAttraction to FN: "The Food Network took food - what might be considered mundane- and turned it into an opportunity for the viewer to learn about its social and sensual possibilities. This offered the pleasure of anticipation and a vicarious intimacy and/or sensual experience." -Ketchum, The Essence of Cooking Shows, 231 Surface-level knowledge on the FN: "Part of the interest in Food Network programming is linked to a heightened focus on aesthetics." -Ketchum, The Essence of Cooking Shows, 231 Advertising on FN: "On the Food Network, commercials and programming complement each other as one sees the products can be purchased to construct an idealized life of beauty and intimate social interaction and to experience culinary delights." -Ketchum, The Essence of Cooking Shows, 231. In fact, one of the goals of FN’s founder, Reese Schonfeld, was to “mesh programming and ads so that editorials would look like ads and ads would look like editorials” (R. Katz, 1994, p. 51). Although the literature is limited, research has evaluated the effects of implementing cooking activities into nutrition education programs; results suggest that increased food knowledge and skills can improve eating behaviors, which in turn implies that Food Network programming may have the ability to impact/alter health and nutrition behaviors. The purpose of the present study was to examine FN programming by studying the messages and themes that relate to various health and food behaviors. Serving as a foundation for future media effects research, this analysis intends to examine Food Network programming and the health, nutrition, and food messages in which viewers are exposed.
Intercoder agreement was established between two of my graduate assistants and a graduate student from the College of Charleston. Approximately .8 using Krippendorff's alpha, varying a bit depending on variable types. Ratings data for the Food Network from the Simmons Market Research Bureau for the same month was also obtained so viewership data could be used to complement the analysis.
Primary info source in the shows were Industry Experts (the show hosts or chefs)Remember the progression of FN to being a personality-driven network. These show hosts become seen as authorities on cooking – experts. This is important for our interest in FN’s role in teaching food safetyNow, not everyone would agree that these are “industry experts.” In fact, Mario Batali, a former FN star and master chef said in 2007 in the NYTimes, “They don’t need me. They have decided they are mass market and they are going after the Wal-Mart crowd,” which he said was “a smart business decision. So they don’t need someone who uses polysyllabic words from other languages.”
Most shows emphasized DIY (Do It Yourself), which means most shows are “teaching” showsOf the 242 shows coded, 153 were labeled “DIY” and were the focus of our research
Of the DIY shows we analyzed…
Some important food safety rules:When preparing food, keep it clean: Clean your hands, clean your utensils and clean your surfaces with hot, soapy water Thaw it out: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, in cold water in the sink, or in the microwave- cook immediately after thawing Temps: Keep hot food hot and cold food cold 2-hour rule: Perishable foods should NOT be left in the "danger zone" (~room temperature) for more than 2 hoursFood poisoning or food-borne illness can affect any person who eats contaminated food. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), “more than 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur each year in the U.S.,”
Only about 12% of the programs displayed overt food safety messages
Food Network draws many viewers. There is potential for reaching the home cook via FN and teaching food safety principles. Right now, FN is doing very little in the way of food safety. In fact, you could argue that viewers are being negatively influenced by the lack of food safety messages and examples in the programming. There is a need for more investigation into potential effects of incorporating food safety messages into FN programming
What’s Cooking?A Content Analysis of Food Network Programming<br />Lisa K, Lundy, Louisiana State University <br />Amanda Ruth-McSwain, College of Charleston<br />
Food Network<br />"The Food Network is like MTV was in the '80s." - Sandra Lee, <br />USA Today<br />"Farm to table is very popular right now, and I think that trend will continue … helping put the focus back on where food is coming from." - Rachael Ray, USA Today<br />
Food Network Viewers<br />Food Network viewers are deeply involved in all aspects of cooking and food…<br />More than half, 55% cook for themselves at least 4+ times a week.<br />Convenience is important too, once a week or more nearly two-thirds order take-out/prepared foods (61%) and/or go out to eat (65%).<br />At least once a month, more than half entertain guests at home (56%) and/or bring food to other people’s homes (55%).<br />
Setting the Table<br />With poor eating behavior as a leading cause for heart disease, cancers, strokes, and diabetes, experts have called for bridging nutrition education and interest in the culinary arts.<br />Oddly, while Americans are preparing and eating fewer of their meals at home, they are increasingly interested in television shows teaching them how to buy, prepare, and consume food. <br />
Setting the Table<br />The increasing demand for food specialty television demonstrates the potential influence and cultivation effects that this medium can have on lifestyles, health behaviors, and individual well-being. <br />Contrary to conventional nutrition education efforts, food television has the ability to combine entertainment and education through an accessible medium using applicable messages, which has been cited as a solution to “creating and maintaining healthy eating practices.” (Condrasky & Hegler, 2010)<br />Combining food education with an experience provides viewers with a culinary confidence, including control over the ingredients purchased, a familiarity with various preparation techniques, and an appreciation for the foods consumed. <br />
Setting the Table<br />In her 2005 analysis of the Food Network, Cheri Ketchum describes the role of the network in creating fantasies wherein consumers are exposed to different outlets for pleasure, all of which involve consuming various products linked to advertisers and sponsors. <br />Since its inception in 1993, FN has moved from informative, instruction-based cooking to personality-driven programming. <br />
Research Questions<br />What are the primary sources of information in Food Network programming?<br />What are the primary themes in Food Network programming? How do the themes manifest in programming? <br />Is food safety an important issue in Food Network programming? Is food safety included in programming implicitly or explicitly? How does this differ based on type of show?<br />
Methods<br />The research team recorded all shows on the Food Network during the month of September 2009. We analyzed one constructed week.<br />Using qualitative and quantitative content analysis methods, the taped programming was analyzed for variables such as type of programming, sources of information, advertisements, product placement, food safety messages (explicit and implicit), and program themes. The data gathered was analyzed for (1) descriptive statistics of frequency, and (2) thematic analysis of messages found in the sample of FN programming.<br />