By all accounts, I’m not a millennial. I was born in the ’70s and grew up idolizing Prince and Michael Jackson. I’m not a millennial. I got my first cellphone when I graduated from college, and I used the internet for the first time from a 100-pound desktop in my dorm’s computer lab. I’m definitely not a millennial. I grew up eating out of our garden in the summer and root cellar in the winter—hyperlocal was something my family practiced, and something I practice now with my own family.
Wait, does that make me a millennial?
I belong to several loyalty programs. Maybe I am a millennial? I use my phone to order food for pickup. Wait, I’m feeling kind of like a millennial.
But there’s something I love about a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy with creamed spinach and turkey breast. And I love sitting down to eat with my family. I love the community aspect of mealtime. Does that make me a baby boomer?
The point here of publicly going over my generational identity crisis is that in my heart, I belong to parts of each major generational breakout: Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. And I think we all do.
I’m following a senior community in Vermont that recently started inviting local food trucks to spice up the food offer for its residents. Residents and staff lined up outside Taco Truck All Stars and enjoyed their lunches on the front porch. And we're hearing about student farm volunteers getting their hands dirty and tilling the soil like generations before them.
We have more in common than we think.
As FSDs and chefs, determining what’s on your menu has more to do with your community than their birthdays. You know your diners and their habits better than any foodservice consultant out there. But identifying and using those base generational habits as a jumping off point for ideation or simple likes and dislikes can’t hurt, either.