Culture is broadly defined as the beliefs, attitudes, values, customs, and habits accepted by a community of individuals. Cultural behavior patterns are reinforced when a group is isolated by geography or segregated by socioeconomic status. Culture is learned, not inherited; it is passed from generation to generation. The term food habits refers to the ways in which humans use food, including how food is obtained and stored, how it is prepared, how it is served and to whom, and how it is consumed. A. H. Maslow’s theory of human maturation as applied to food habits explains how food use progresses from eating for existence to eating for self-actualization.
1.Physical needs for survival: Daily needs for nutrients must be met before more complex food use can occur.
2.Social needs for security: Once the immediate need for food is satisfied, future needs can be and are considered. The storage of food, in a pantry or in a refrigerator, may represent security.
3.Belongingness: This use of food shows that an individual belongs to a group. The need to belong is satisfied by consuming the foods that are eaten by the social group as a whole. These foods represent comfort and happiness for many people; during periods of stress or illness, people often want the foods they ate during childhood.
Sometimes people adopt a special diet to demonstrate belongingness. For example, African Americans who live outside the South, may choose to eat what is called soul food (such as pork ribs and greens) on certain occasions as an expression of ethnic identity.
Etiquette, the appropriate use of food, is also a way of demonstrating belongingness. Entirely different manners are required when lunching with business associates at an expensive restaurant, when attending a tea, when eating in a school cafeteria, when drinking with friends at a bar, or when picnicking with a significant other.
4.Status: Food can be used to define social position. Champagne and caviar imply wealth, beans and potatoes are traditionally associated with the poor. Status foods are used for social interaction. When a man picks up his date, he brings her chocolates, not broccoli. Wine is considered an appropriate gift to the hostess, a gallon of milk is not.
In general, eating with someone connotes social equality with that person. Many societies regulate who can dine together as a means of establishing class relationships. Women and children may eat separately from men, or servants may eat in the kitchen, away from their employers. This attempted separation by class was also seen in the U.S. restaurants that excluded African Americans before the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
5.Self-realization: This stage of food use occurs when all previous stages have been achieved to the individual’s satisfaction. Personal preference takes precedence, and the individual may experiment with the foods of different ethnic or economic groups.
Food and Culture in America. A Nutrition Handbook, 2nd Edition. Pamela Kittler & Kathryn P. Sucher. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998.
Complete a three to five page paper on the nutritional habits/customs, health beliefs and practices of a specific culture. As you prepare this paper, think about the issues addressed in the previous pages and how these influences shape a culture’s eating habits. As your paper takes shape, you may want to include some of the following points: History of the specific culture
Common food rituals
Food beliefs: is food used symbolically, spiritually or does the culture use specific food/foods for therapeutic purposes? Are there any traditional or staple foods used regularly in their diet. What is the meaning of this food? Do the people of the culture follow a specific daily pattern related to diet and meals? Does the culture change their nutritional beliefs or have different food customs throughout the lifecycle, from infancy to adult years, during pregnancy and lactation or during sickness and health? What did you learn about this culture?
Feel free to include personal experiences and any recipes to share with the class from this culture.
Please include a minimum of two references published within the past five years from a reputable health/nutrition related journal and/or book. Suggestions include Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Journal of Nutrition Education, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition or Journal of the American Medical Association.