Food and Culture


Human beings cannot do with food. Although food is essential for nutrition, it is meaningful to human beings in diverse ways. According to $8$-, food has been part of human life even before civilization. Being the only mammal that cooks their food, human beings consumption of nutrients is much different.    What people eat becomes their diet. Consequently, diet influences people’s health as well as how well their body functions. Culture or the environment in which he is subjected to in turn influences a person’s diet. In regards to culture, food can be sentimental providing connection to people’s families or nations. World cultures are things that makes that makes people different from who they are and the different places they come from. Culture involves embracing all aspects of human life. In other words, it influences how people communicate and interact with each other. Food plays a vital role in the interactions between people. As observed by $&*, food traditions play a significant role in the lives of human beings. Food and culture are interrelated.  Food traditions are mirrored in world culture in various ways. The connection between food traditions and culture is exhibited in varied ways ranging from cultural heritage, habits, religion, rituals, and gender roles.

Cultural Heritage

Food traditions render an essential link to people’s cultural heritage. Thinks of immigrants who do not want to lose their cultural beliefs. These immigrants often use food traditions as a means to retain their cultural identity. Depending on their places of origin, people eat different foods. The methods of preparing food and the different techniques used in food preservation vary among world cultures. Besides, the types of food eaten at different meals are dependent on one’s cultural background. Echoing the sentiments of %*75%–, a person’s cultural background- where they live, or their ancestral place of origin influences food likes and dislikes. Individuals’ food preferences end up influencing their food choices patterns within a specific culture.

Food items have meaning attached to them. According to *-87, not only does food provide nutrition values, but it also provides humans with something more symbolic. The meaning of this is that food brings a certain degree of connection between people in their families or society. For example, in Europe, some foods are associated with gifting. A good example is a box of chocolate, which would be regarded highly as an appropriate gift in European cultures. In African countries, the same box of chocolate would not be highly regarded as an appropriate gift. African cultures would regard other foods as gifts than the box chocolate.

Different foods are associated with different world cultures. Pizza and pasta are associated with Italians. In another dimension, meat is associated with the United States. Grits is associated with most families in the southern United States.


Some people are of the view that food is not part of the cultural heritage. These people argue that with globalization, the interactions between people have lost the aspect of cultural heritage associated with food. Historically, food was part of the cultural heritage, but in today’s world, it is not. Other aspects such as artifacts define cultural heritage. With the intermarriages and interactions, people have mixed the food traditions to fit their needs. Like in the case of the association of pasta and pasta with Italy, the types of pasta eaten vary throughout Italy. In the United States, meat is not eaten regularly. Other cultures have adopted these foods to fit their needs. For example in an India restaurant, one might find foods like pizza, a type of food that is not authentically Indian.

Religion and Rituals

Various food traditions are because of religious beliefs. Different religions around different world cultures have dietary laws. Though most of them are not written less, most people believe in them and do in accordance with the provisions. As &*4675 posits, certain types of foods are adopted or avoided based on religious guidance. The different ways that God tradition are mirrored in the world cultures are provided in the examples below.

The in Islamic culture, the Muslims engage in fasting during the Ramadan. The Islamic religion dictates that during the month of Ramadan,   all muslins are supposed to restrain from eating any food during the daylight hours. During Ramadan, eating resumes during the night, after sunset and before dawn. Islamic laws prohibit eating pork.  Muslims do not eat pork Orthodox Jews have dietary laws known as a kosher diet. These laws guide how animal food is supposed to be prepared for purposes of spiritual healing. Buddhists, on the other hand, follows the doctrine of non-injury. By following this doctrine, Buddhists are predominantly vegetarians. They are known to avoid meat and dairy products. Food help people feel like they are part of a more significant group or they have special links to a particular religion.


Despite having religious dietary laws and food prescriptions, food traditions vary significantly among people in the same religious group “&*656. Variations in dietary practices with religious groups are predominantly because of individuals or families having their degree of religious adherence. Not all people within the same culture follow religious dietary laws. This aspect makes some people feel that food and culture are not linked through religion.

Habits and Etiquette

Different cultures differ in the types of habits and etiquette they associate with food. In European societies regards food-related etiquette as table manners. It is therefore expected of the people of western cultures to eat foods or meals at a table. These people also highly regard eating foods with folks and spoons. Chinese culture encourages people to eat foods using chopsticks. In some part of Asia, some cultures encourage eating foods using the fingers of the right hand. Others cultures consider these as being rude. In some cultures, licking fingers while or after eating is not only considered impolite but also a taboo. The act of finishing all the food served on the plate is a sign that whoever served did not serve enough food. In some culture, it might be an indication that one did not like the food. In Middle Eastern and Southeast Asia, living some food in the plates is a signal that a person’s hunger has been satisfied. This is contrary to other cultures where finishing all the food on the plate is considered polite.

The extent of conversation during mealtime varies from one culture to the other. In some culture meals times provides the best moments for family members to deliberate on a few issues affecting the family as well as their friends. In other cultures, the conversation topics during mealtime are limited to specific topics. In some Asian cultures, talking during mealtime is not only impolite but also rude ***&.

Most traditional diets promote healthy eating among different cultures. These diets are rich in a variety of foods and dishes that comprises of fruits, vegetable, grains, and proteins sources. Typically, any diet should contain the four basic foods; complex carbohydrates, an adequate amount of protein, minerals, and vitamins. For example, almost all traditional Hispanic meals contain these four foods.   Hispanics are accustomed to having four or five meals a day, all of which contains a balanced diet. They value a healthy diet, which is reflected in their moderate increase in milk, vegetable, and fruits consumption. This is also accompanied by a substantial decrease in lard and cream consumption.

Some eating habits and etiquette are so strong to the point that people would reflect them wherever they go. For instances as people immigrate, they take with them food practices and preferences. A person from Africa might move to Europe with her or his food practices and preferences. While in Europe, they might decide to use their old recipes with the available ingredients in Europe. In another dimension, such people might decide to use new recipes and incorporate old ingredients to match their tastes. Some people might go to the extreme of importing the specific food they are used to satisfy their appetites.


Habits and etiquette related to food traditions are not part of the cultural beliefs. Habits and etiquette of whatever form does not depend on the cultural affiliation of the individual. An individual at a personal or family level might decide to have his or her habits or etiquette. The provisions of the cultures they come from may not bind them. In another dimension, by the fact that people and food are mobile, it is, therefore, wrong to categorize human beings by the type of food they consume. Characterizing people by the type of food they consume is not only inaccurate but tend to group people into stereotypical groups. In today’s world, traditional habits have gone missing from the modern meal. In Europe where table manners were highly regarded, nowadays breakfast can be in the form of s smoothie slurped in the car. In other cases, lunch, which is supposed to a full meal, is taken as a sandwich in the office.


Food traditions have a significant part to play in the lives of people in most world cultures. Nonetheless, the extent to which food traditions are essential in the lives of people varies from culture to culture. Food is part of the cultural heritage of some world cultures. In other world cultures, food plays an integral part of their religion. The religion of these cultures has dietary laws that dictate the type of food to consume and how to consume. In another dimension, food traditions reflected in world cultures from the habits and etiquette related to food.

As much as food traditions and world cultures are interrelated, people sharing similar cultural backgrounds are not identical. Besides, eating patterns and food habits of these people are not identical.  In most cases, people engage in some food practices and traditions at a personal level and sometimes family level rather than at a community or cultural level. The reason why food tradition varies is that people are different. The eating patterns and food habits of women are different from those of me. Additionally, age makes the eating patterns and food habits differently. Nevertheless, people and families are part of the culture. Thus, sensitivity to food traditions is essential in improving world cultures as well as cross-cultural relationships.


Work Cited

Counihan, Carole, and Penny Van Esterik, eds. Food and culture: A reader. Routledge, 2017.

Crowther, Gillian. Eating culture: an anthropological guide to food. University of Toronto Press, 2018.

Delaney, Carol, and Deborah Kaspin. Investigating Culture: An experiential introduction to            anthropology. John Wiley & Sons, 2017.

Johnston, Josee, Michelle Szabo, and Alexandra Rodney. “Good food, good people:          Understanding the cultural repertoire of ethical eating.” Journal of consumer culture 11.3        (2016): 293-318.

Nyarugwe, Shingai P., et al. “Determinants for conducting food safety culture research.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 56 (2016): 77-87.

Sammells, Clare A., and Edmund Searles. “Restaurants, fields, markets, and feasts: food and        culture in semi-public spaces.” (2016): 129-135.

Sutton, David E. “Remembrance of Repasts: anthropology of food and memory.” (2001).