Food and Culture: a Cross Cultural Look at Eating Habits

5618 Words Dec 28th, 2012 23 Pages
Food and Culture: A Cross Cultural Look at Eating Habits
No matter where we are from, eating is one of the most personal experiences of life. Everyone finds enjoyment and comfort in eating foods associated with their early days and heritage, but personal sensations and perceptions on eating are merely a fraction of the global picture. Learning about other cultures, their values, and what they seek will enhance relationships between individuals throughout communities and the nation. Eating habits provide a very conducive way for promoting mutual understanding between everyone. According to dictionary.com, food is any nourishing substance ingested in the body to provide energy and sustain life and growth. “Food habits refer to the way
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Food is something so common to all, yet it denotes incredibly different ideals from table to table. Food habits are culturally consistent modes of behavior relating to food that have been established by individuals reared in a given cultural tradition (Counihan, 2008, p. 18). The specific behaviors towards food are interrelated with other culture-specific behaviors in the same community. “Humans do not nourish themselves from natural nutrients, nor from pure dietary principles, but from cultured food-stuffs, chosen and prepared according to laws of compatibility and rules of propriety unique to each cultural area” (Counihan, 2008, p. 76). Food is essential to ethnic, religious, and regional identity. Before delving into the implications of food in the diverse cultural contexts of Spain, China, and the United States, it is important to first understand the background elements of food and how it serves to establish specific cultures. There are four ways to understanding and categorize the food habits and the role of food in different cultures. They include “frequency of food consumption; ways a culture traditionally prepares and seasons food; daily, weekly, and yearly use of food; and changes in food functions that emerge during structural growth in a culture” (Kittler, 2008, p. 7). The core and complementary foods model groups food together based on their rate of consumption. According to this framework, core foods are those regularly consumed in a person’s
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