Dear Fellow Millennials, in case you were wondering, this is the reputation we have purchased:

You can almost hear Foster the People playing when you look at it long enough.

According to McDonalds Has a Millennial Problem, a great AdAge article from today which I recommend you read in its entirety,

“Here are some common themes and values held dear among all Millennials:

Fresh and organic food: Millennials place an emphasis on the importance of organic and fresh food. Fast-casual chains do well with the demo because many of them promote a fresh or organic message.

Variety and customizable products: In the food world, millennials appreciate the ability to build their meals from an array of choices. Chains like Chipotle and Subway do well in this regard because each item is made to order.

Social change: Millennials care about social issues and tend to support companies that are actively helping address problems across the globe.

Sustainability: Particularly with food, millennials value companies that are proactive with sustainable farming practices and are environmentally conscious.

Social-savvy brands: Brands that have active Facebook and Twitter pages and engage in conversations with customers tend to have more long-term support from millennials.”

In the ongoing question of whether consumers, corporations or the government are responsible for improving our food landscape, this is good news for anyone who wants to be a part of the solution using the space between their fork and knife.

While I’m proud to know that as an aggregate these are the values my generation is looking for and that companies are listening, I still think that food producers that only think about the bottom line are not totally beyond reproach and the government as regulatory body is definitely not redundant.

So Millennials may be empowered to demand food from more ethical sources (although probably not, given the lack of transparency with significant portions of the supply line, like CAFOs and wages paid to migrant workers). But many of us are also demanding healthy food that is actually healthy, and companies are not delivering. They are not delivering because they can get away with producing food labeled as healthy that actually isn’t. For example, these guysthese guysthese guys, oh and these guys.

The argument that “industry always only supplies what consumers demand and so its on consumers to demand ethical and healthy foods” falls apart so long as food corporations keep labeling their products with misleading health claims and the FDA doesn’t do anything about it.

And yeah, sorry to bear the bad news, but eating butter probably won’t help you with your cholesterol, drinking sugar-water won’t help you sleep, eating cookies isn’t the same as eating spinach, and drinking vegetable juice that has been totally stripped of all its naturally occurring nutrients and fibers and has then had artificial fibers added back in isn’t the same as eating a tomato. Just eat the tomato.