Sample Essay On Food Culture
The term “food culture” can be presented in various ways depending on your point of focus.
It can be viewed through various sciences and applied in many spheres like history, sociology, psychology. . . Let’s take a close look at this issue and get a view of it from a variety of angles.
We can define food culture as an integral part of the whole culture of the society; it defines the quality of life and the health of the nation. It can be viewed as a complex of various human achievements, skills, traditions in the sphere of nutrition which are reflected in our environment.
Food is one of the most important aspects for human’s well-being and survival and its value cannot be underestimated. The main purpose of food is to satisfy our hunger or physiological needs but it is safe to say that it serves as a symbol of friendliness, social acceptance. Sociologists believe that particular choices of food determine the level of allegiance, societal prestige and acceptance in group. As a matter of fact a great variety of symbolic meanings are connected with food. A case in point is Indian society, in which food identifies status, economic wealth, religious functions and cultural identity, not to speak of the expression of authority.
Eating habits are contracted from the time of a child’s birth. These habits are usually acquired from parents at a very young age, so that children can understand what is bad for them and what is not. In fact particular eating habits belong to family traditions and in such a way become an integral part of a human’s life. Furthermore, these food habits help to define personality of a person which is based on cultural and traditional origin. Without any doubts social and cultural context, appetite and nutrition are major factors which affect health and food choices.
Social influence is one of the most important factors associated with eating habits; it is expressed in the food type chosen by particular groups of people. I mean that cultural representations define whether food, its processing and handling are acceptable or not.According to the preferences of British women a proper meal should consist of two kinds of vegetables and meat. This is their presentation of the most important meal of the day. Probably representatives of other countries would dispute this affirmation.
It is a well-known fact that various cultural reasons are connected with food habits of the people. Eating habits are inseparable from several reasons varying from religious expressions and influencing behaviors, dealing with tension and stress, nutrition and maintain social status.
Despite the fact that food preferences are individual, they depend on cultural beliefs and level of acceptance in the society. For instance, a vegetarian would probably feel uncomfortable surrounded by dedicated meat-eaters.
It should be mentioned that preferences in food are related to the conditions of the environment like food availability, geographical conditions. To my mind family and friends are the main factor which influences the person’s food patterns. I mean the acceptance in the society is a foundational factor which forms eating habits.
It is known that food patterns of immigrants are changing and adapting towards traditional diet patterns of that region. A research has shown that for example women choose food according to their understanding of what is healthy or not and what is more appropriate for being in a good shape.
A good case in point is Indian culture as their food habits are influenced by many factors like socio-economic status, caste, region, knowledge and attitude. According to Indian beliefs food is viewed as a source of happiness and pleasure and cooking is extremely important. The cuisine of India presupposes an elaborate preparation complex considering different spices, colors, flavors and taste. This way of food preparation makes Indian way of cooking a unique food culture. A meal in the culture of India means a family gathering occasion, when all members of the family and friends come to this significant event. One can come to a conclusion that it would be pretty difficult for a person from one country to assimilate in another country and get used to their food culture.
All things considered it is clear that social life is closely connected with food habits. Do we eat only when we are hungry in order to satisfy our needs? I don’t think so. Eating is like a ritual for us, an occasion to gather with your family, to visit a new sushi bar with your friend. Eating like a kind of pastime.
It is not a secret that in the U. S people are fond of fast food like pizzas, fries, hamburgers etc. Junk food became an integral part of American culture. It is a customary thing to hang out with your friends in McDonalds, drinking a milk shake. All these are parts of food culture in the U. S. For example a student from China would feel himself out of place in this community as he got used to rice, fish and vegetables. If a person decides to choose his diet we could become a black sheep.
We should accept the fact that society influences our way of life greatly. If you want to eat healthy food and to go jogging every morning and all your family and friends are keeping bad hours you will probably don’t do this.
Only few people can go against the flow and change their diet even if it will destroy their social life. Still, there are people who decide to change their lifestyle dramatically, they become vegans, rawtarians or just choose healthy diet. In the U. S, where obesity is a burning problem, such people are in the minority. “A hallmark of the Western diet is food that is fast, cheap and easy. Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food; they also spend less than a half hour a day preparing meals and little more than an hour enjoying them.” (Pollan, 439) Fortunately the tendency is changing and the idea of healthy way of life is becoming more and more popular nowadays.
It is a well-known fact that gathering together was a popular tradition at all times. Nowadays the food industry offers us a great variety or products which suit any taste and the entertainment business provide a wide range of restaurants and cafes where you can spend your leisure time, chatting with your friends and enjoying your meal.
Still, food remains a big part of social life and people gather to enjoy delicious food among family and special someone. To my mind it is a wonderful tradition that should not be broken. Family dinner unites family: people spend time together, discuss everything and enjoy this pursuit. It is not surprising that important events are associated with tables laden with appetizing dishes.
There exists an opinion that not participating in food can limit social gathering. I do not support this idea, because to my mind each person is free to choose what he/she wants to eat regardless of the society’s pressure. At the first place your friends should enjoy spending time with you not paying attention to your food preferences. All these limitations are wrong and made up. If your companionship consists of people with different food cultures you should respect tastes of each other and find compromises.
Times are changing, know we have access to a lot of information about nutrition and we can compose our menu, due to globalization cuisines of different countries have merged and the boundaries between them are blurred. Today we can choose our lifestyle, our diet in accordance with our needs and wants.
In the era of technology people spend more and more time in front of the computer or TV set but family gathering is still a golden opportunity to enjoy real-life communication, dainty dishes and time-honored traditions. What we need to remember is that no matter what food we eat it should be natural and healthy.” Staying mindful of that culturecan free us each to follow a formula we have long known but recently forgotten: Trust yourself. Trust your body. Meet your needs. “(Maxfield, 446)
Choi, A. (2014). What Americans can learn from other food cultures. ideas.ted.com. Retrieved 15 February 2015, from http://ideas.ted.com/what-americans-can-learn-from-other-food-cultures/