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Hipster culture first came into the spotlight in the late 1990s, when the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg began attracting young creative types who were looking for an alternative to the sky-high prices of Manhattan. Soon, their attitudes, habits, and lifestyles began to be replicated and adapted in cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle – to then cross the ocean, evolve, and settle in fashion, art, and music-oriented cities like Paris, Berlin and Milan.
Christian Lorentzen of Time Out New York defined “hipsterism” as a summary of all the world’s post-war cultures, where disparate styles and esthetics – beat, hippie, preppy, punk, grunge – all come together. But behind the his-and-her skinny jeans, the oversized glasses, the well-coiffed beards and mustaches, and the thick, side-swept bangs, hipsters can be defined for a particular mindset which sets them apart from the larger masses.
Hipsters tend to love everything “indie” – art, music, film – and tend to be early adopters of technology and digital trends. They tend to be much more ecologically aware then previous generations or social groups, choosing the “green” option whenever they can – this is why, for example, they tend to be so devoted to their bicycles: it’s a zero-impact mode of transport that also helps them stay in shape for those skinny jeans.
This combination of body- and eco-mindedness overlaps into hipsters’ eating habits.
Hipsters enjoy shopping at local markets and buying organic whenever possible. Despite being city dwellers, it’s not uncommon for them to have a little herb garden on their balcony, or even a small vegetable garden if space permits. Many embrace both vegetarianism or veganism—or in any case, eat meat with a certain kind of awareness and attitude.
Innately drawn to anything retro or nostalgic, hipsters have rediscovered the comfort foods of their childhood—or even their parents’ youth—dusting off their grandparents’ old recipes and adapting them to their more healthy-minded lifestyles.
Like the “yuppies” of the 1980s, hipsters love talking about food—but thanks to social networks, the discussion isn’t just limited to words. Armed with their smartphones, hipsters will choose their Instagram filters just as carefully as their meals—capturing and sharing their everyday meals even before they’ve taken their first (now cold) bite. Twitter, too, is a perfect platform for “meal sharing”.
Every week, dashboards around the world are filled with the #meatlesmonday hashtag: the now-viral campaign was launched in 2003 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with the objective of encouraging a more moderate consumption of meat.
The microblogging platform, Tumblr, is full of photo journals of hipster gourmands who are showing off their skills while providing the accompanying recipes. It’s a great way for an urban, open-minded, socially connected hipster to figure out what to make for dinner.
Try, for example, Cara Livermore’s blog, Hipsterfood: all of her recipes are completely vegetarian, but perfectly presented and inspiring. With the kind of Do-It-Yourself spirit that defines the hipster movement, Carla has also created a “traditional” vegan cooking magazine, Chickpea, which she describes as “a place to celebrate and normalize veganism, to show non-vegans that living vegan is now more fun and rewarding than ever”.
Careful attention to high-quality ingredients and rediscovering genuine traditions is what also inspires Rick and Michael Mast, two hipster brothers from Brooklyn who have founded two handmade chocolate shop-laboratories in Brooklyn and Manhattan (this location has been temporarily closed after Hurricane Sandy). For their “mind blowing” confections, The Mast Brothers use organic cocoa and whole cane sugar, Anderson almonds, Stumptown Coffee, Organic Maine Sea Salt and Crown Maple Syrup.
If this article seems to be speaking directly to you, you might want to start considering yourself among the hipsters of the world. You can find out which animal you most resemble by checking out the site Hipster Animals, created by the New York illustrator Dyna Moe.
Also worth checking out: a video from the Mast Brothers.