The Rhythm of Food

About the Project

The Rhythm of Food is a collaborative project between Google News Lab and Truth & Beauty.  Google search patterns – organized and statistically processed through weekly Google Trends – were collected over 15 years were used to investigate the seasons and “rhythm of food” around the world.  For example, the trends reveal that certain food items and diets fade in and out over the course of a year (e.g. “diet” is most commonly searched in January, “strawberry” peaks around Valentine’s Day, “pumpkin spice latte” has a natural season between August and September).   

Goal & Argument

The goal of The Rhythm of Food site is to allow the public to explore food-related search trends over the last 15 years and view the ebbs and flows of search queries for different foods, at a glance.  One can explore the shifting interest in a food item within any given year, or over the course of 15 years. The site certainly makes a clear argument that there is a yearly “rhythm” to the interest in various foods, whether the rhythm is determined by natural season, holidays, or other factors. 

Graph from The Rhythm of Food site, displaying the search trend of "strawberry" over the course of a year. The graph shows that "strawberry" is most commonly searched for in the summer months and around Valentine's Day.
Graph from The Rhythm of Food site, displaying the search trend of “strawberry” over the course of a year.

The “Black Box”

Sources: Google search data was derived from Google Trends. Data is focused on the United States and collected over the course of 15 years, from 2004-2018. Currently the site comprises of 201 search topics and 155,705 individual data points. 

Processes: Data points were analyzed and organized into monthly or food-related categories.

Presentation: Visualized with interactive graphs / mappings of search trends. Made web accessible.

“Food” for Thought

A remaining question for the team of this project: Does geographical location (within the United States) and/or socioeconomic status play a role in food interest? For instance, would the term “diet” be less searched in areas with high food insecurity? Would Christmas-related food recipes be less searched in areas with high concentrations of non-Christian populations?


One Comment

  1. I thought I remembered seeing a bit about geographical location in the project, but certainly I could see more specific location being interesting too! I think partly, it might be difficult to define “areas with high food insecurity” for example from Google search data; that might be something to look into. I like the organization of your post, by the way!

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