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Food & Culture. Diet is influenced by biological, environmental and cultural factors. Eating as a Biological Act. Eating is deeply rooted in nature Diet must provide enough energy & essential nutrients for group’s members to survive & reproduce

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food culture
Food & Culture
  • Diet is influenced by biological, environmental and cultural factors
eating as a biological act
Eating as a Biological Act
  • Eating is deeply rooted in nature
  • Diet must provide enough energy & essential nutrients for group’s members to survive & reproduce
  • Food choices influenced by the environment (including socio-economic & political aspects)
biological considerations
Biological Considerations
  • “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”*: As omnivores, humans can eat virtually anything---so how do we decide what we should eat?

*Pollan, Michael (2006). The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin Press.

biological considerations1
Biological Considerations
  • Using Our Senses: Sweet, bitter, and inborn sense of disgust keep us from consuming potentially deadly foods
culture as food mediator
Culture as Food Mediator
  • Humans rely on shared knowledge & experiences with food sources
  • “Native wisdom” guides our decisions
  • Reflected in ethnic, regional or national cuisines
culture as food mediator1
Culture as Food Mediator
  • “Culture codifies the rules of wise eating in an elaborate structure of taboos, rituals, recipes, manners, and culinary traditions that keep us from having to reenact the omnivore’s dilemma at every meal.”

(Pollan 2006:4)

eating as a cultural act a model of and for a culture
Eating as a Cultural Act:A model OF and FOR a culture
  • “How a people eats is one of the most powerful ways they have to express, and preserve, their cultural identity” (Pollan 2008:57-58)*

*Pollan, Michael (2008). In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin Press.

eating as a model of and for culture
Eating as a Model Of and For Culture
  • Culture influences what, where, when and with whom we eat
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Labor activities
  • Religious beliefs
  • Food sharing (kin/descent groups, residence patterns)
food culture1
Food & Culture
  • Diets are a reflection of what we consider acceptable as food
  • A “Taste” for certain foods bring people together as a community

“For a community’s food preferences...represent one of the strongest social glues we have. Historically, national cuisines have been remarkably stable and resistant to change, which is why the immigrant’s refrigerator is the very last place to look for signs of assimilation” (Pollan, 2006:295)

american food culture
American Food Culture
  • Is there such a thing?
  • American “national cuisine”?
  • Lack of a strong, stable American food culture leaves us vulnerable to scientific and capitalistic control of our diet and food supply
  • America as the “Fast Food Nation”
the french paradox
“The French Paradox”
  • The French eat all sorts of “unhealthy” foods (lots of cheese, butter, bread, wine) but have lower rates of heart disease and obesity
  • French culture of food dictates:
    • Small portions
    • No “seconds”
    • No snacking
    • Seldom eat alone
    • Communal meals are long and leisurely social affairs
the american paradox according to michael pollan
The American Paradox(according to Michael Pollan)

“Instead of relying on the accumulated wisdom of a cuisine, or even on the wisdom of our senses, we rely on expert opinion, advertising, government food pyramids, and diet books, and we place our faith in science to sort out for us what culture once did with rather more success”