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Food And Culture Essay

2663 words - 11 pages

Food can be defined as any product, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be ingested by the humans whether of nutritional value or not. Food is the main source of energy and of nutrition for an individual, and is usually of plant or animal origin. Adequate nutritional intake plays a significant role in the maintenance of health. Appropriate food choice is an essential factor in maintaining body functioning and health.The selection of foods by human groups is influenced by a numerous of factors. The question as to why one eats, or what one eats, is certainly a complex one. There are many determinants that affect the food choice of an individual. Physiological factors as well as cultural factors, media, socioeconomic factors affects the food choice and consumption and may adversely affect the nutritional well being. Culture however appears to be the major determinant of what we eat.The concept of food consumption is much more complex, the food that we eat is at the basis of our culture society and our existence. Culture plays one of the most influential roles in the choices and the subsequent selection of foods consumed in certain societies. As culture comes from ones history and tradition, along with the culture comes the set of rules and practices of food choice, which we acquire as we grow up, called cuisine. A culture group provides guidelines regarding acceptable foods, food combinations, eating habits and patterns. People eat according to the learned behaviors regarding etiquette, meal and snack pattern, acceptable food, food combination, and portion sizes. (www.geocities.com/nvaladi/food.html)Culture has a value system which comes into prominence through traditional values. Dominant values influence all aspects of food related activity as well as the way specific foods are viewed. The substance accepted as food by culture some are labeled as good and some as bad. Traditional influence leads to the difference in the habitual consumption of certain foods and into the rich heritage of preparation, and in certain cases can lead to restrictions such as exclusion of meat and milk from the diet. Many different cultures encourage or discourage consumption of different food at different stages of life. This can be because of benefits and hazard of consuming these foods at certain times of life. For example the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is not approved in most of the cultures.However another most important determinant of food choice is media. Media is an important aspect of life in our daily food consumption. The media seeks to inform us, persuade us, and entertain us. The media has an enormous influence on the food selection. Things like television, newspaper, magazines and Internet are being used extensively today. The role of media in shaping food habits is a controversial one. As an impersonal communication channel is more effective in conveying information than in active persuasion some claim that mass...

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