Cuisines That Unite: Exploring the Role of Food in Society - Free Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1727 Words
Date:  2023-10-30

For the most prolonged period, food has been used to commemorate the unifying social aspects that diverse individuals or communities embrace. The locations that individuals choose to procure their meals signify the importance they attribute to the food and the type of food offered in the place (Crowther, 2018). Public venues are more relied on by the sellers who aim to present their distinct cultures while making profits from the sale of the foods, for the individuals, the public food options signify their taste preferences on various food types over others. In public venues, food is used as a means of unifying the community through gathering to share in its consumption as well as used in celebrations. In private and domesticated households, food is used as a means of passing cultural values from one generation to another. For instance, in the homes, the older individuals train the younger ones on the various methods of food preparation and consumption based on their traditional values as well as the types of food options and exclusions they have adopted over time.

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Gastro-politics has been evident in the various cultures and communities based on the diversity in food types and preferences. Food has been used as a social aspect that defines the shifting context between diverse cultures; for instance, the habits associated with food preparation and consumption behaviors are a significant attribute of the various communities. According to Counihan and Esterik (2008), the cultural dynamics presented by food interpretation have created the uniqueness of each society. For instance, food is used as a semiotic device that highlights the diverse traits individuals have as well as the symbols various types of foods are associated with depending on the message to be transmitted. Food has been used for social groups hence aids in maintaining the similar characteristics that individuals who prepare and similarly consume food have. This unifies the communities; for instance, in Islamic communities eating habits such as eating from the same dish using hands have attributed to their unity.

Eating out is becoming a more embraced phenomenon and the role of food in emphasizing the diverse cultures and traditions. Public dining has been more associated with making cultural and social statements, especially for most urban dwellers. Crowther (2018) suggests that public eating is mostly associated with higher class social groups; hence the restaurants are more driven at making the consumer's experiences worthwhile. The establishment of various restaurants has been chiefly associated with the need to cater to numerous individuals' diverse social classes, traditions, and cultures. The evolution of the restaurants as ethnosites has contributed to the experience of various intercultural encounters amongst individuals. The whole concept of public eating has aided in increasing the socializing and enhancing unity amongst communities hence maintaining the communal values, traditions, and beliefs.

Role of Food in Political Action and Social Resistance

Since ancient times, food has always been associated with power and authority. Due to its fundamental purpose in people's lives, it serves as a multi-dimensional basis for the excellence of the economy and other aspects of human life. The control of food systems by the government and other political authorities has affected cultural practices as well as health practices adhered to by various communities. For instance, the regulation of food prices and standardization of food items is regulated by those in authority. Jarczewski (2015) suggests that the political management of foods has resulted in the consumer preferences for cheap foods that they can afford while some foods are only associated with the wealthy classes. Based on the policies implemented to regulate the farming processes and procurement methods of various foods as well as the quality of seeds planted to produce foodstuffs, it is all a politicized movement. The whole aspect of food security to avoid hunger is a politicized decision made by those in authority alone.

The use of food as a social resistance form is evident in the food security sector, where certain countries manipulate food supplies to other regions as a means of jeopardizing economic sanctions. The political scene in the international markets creates a convenient ground for various countries to use food as a means of social resistance either of the rules adopted or unfavorable policies (McAuley, 2015). In recent times, imposing heavy taxes and sanctions on food imports from other countries as a result of political differences is the most common form of modern-day social resistance. Crowther (2018), suggests that the influence of government and authority is significant even in the food provision and eating regulations imposed on communities. The control of food procurement means to ensure the safety of public health is a crucial concern driven by authoritative figures. The classification and regulation of eating establishments are based on politicized expectations and social control.

Anthropological perspectives on food and eating

For the most extended period, food has been strictly used as a measure of cultural differences. It is mostly used as a cultural identity of the various traditions, values, and beliefs different human beings have. The anthropological perspective on nutrition and food has continued increasing from the era of the Second World War as more information was sought to identify the effects of malnutrition and food scarcity (Peter J.M. Nas, 2009). There have been observable factors that make individuals prefer various types of foods as opposed to others based on the diverse communities they have been socialized in, age, migration, or new technologies and belief systems. The studies of nutritional anthropology have provided vital insights on the various effects different types of foods had on individuals from diverse cultures. For instance, the Germans were known to consume dark bread and beer, while the French ate white bread, strong coffee, and preferred wine. According to Fox, the Germans and French's diverse food options resulted in the Germans having more control over the French in the wars since they were nutritionally sound, hence quite healthy and more robust for conflicts.

It has been repeatedly suggested that humans are components of the foods they intake and how they eat, however, the diverseness of the cultures has resulted in a mythical illusion of the influence of dietary foods and portion control. Most anthropologists, however, argue that there is no nutritional sense attributed to timing the durations the types of foods should be undertaken. The current twenty-first-century generation of individuals has been more immersed in the diet culture, which has been affecting their food consumption. This had arisen the habit of binge eating, which, according to history, was caused by the uncertainty of getting the next meal; hence individuals stuffed themselves when food was in abundance. Various foods were reserved explicitly for ceremonies only; for instance, with the Americans, it is turkeys, while for the Chinese, it is the pigs. The ceremonial foods differ depending on the type of celebration and communal view of authentic food types.

The Impact of Cultural Understanding of Eating on Promoting Public Health

While information is power, the comprehension of the various effects that foods have on the health of an individual based on cultural backgrounds has formed a basis for preference of diverse food types. Cultural influence on food types influences the various beliefs and frequent consumption of different foods over others and the exclusion of other kinds. For most individuals, their food choices are based on the cultural experiences they have had in regards to preparation and the nutritional value they attribute the foods to have. For instance, in some communities, certain food types are more reserved for lactating mothers or sick individuals as they are more attributed to aid in the healing and restoration process. Cultural understanding of the food types that were eaten on various occasions, aids in creating more awareness to the public on the nutritional value or other benefits of eating hence promoting effective public health policies.

The understanding of cultural aspects of eating forms and types, aids in easing the communication processes and means used in relaying information on proficient health policies to people. Individuals from diverse cultures and the knowledge of their attributes, values, and beliefs make it easier for health practitioners to effectively communicate health policies based on their traditions (Rushing, 2018). Eating cultures demonstrate the health behaviors and patterns that some individuals prefer over others; this influences their food choices greatly. Cultural appropriateness and sensitivity is essential in convincing individuals the effectiveness of the health policies adopted. In identifying the types of health policies to be utilized, understanding the eating cultures aids in analyzing the effectiveness of various systems concerning promoting the health of the community while upholding their cultural values. Information on eating cultures aids in audience segmentation of the public to analyze their epidemiological history hence providing a basis for the adoption of effective health practices.

The diversity of culture has resulted in eating out as a more modernized form of showcasing the food diversity options that various cultures have hence allowed more people to experience multiple cuisines. In countries like China, they have food markets while in the U.S.A. the multiple restaurants and cuisine stations are gaining more popularity (Crowther, 2018). With this cultural explosion on eating formats, health policies are adopted to ensure that the public is safe. The food handlers practice appropriate health measures in preparation of the food and its disposal. Health policies are also crucial in identifying food handlers and licensing their establishments to gain public trust. Cultural understanding of the various forms of eating options individuals is resorting to in modern-day offers a more social identity of their behaviors and health values. Health policies are becoming more attributed to the evolving eating habits associated with the public for safety and quality enhancement.


Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik (eds.). 2008. Food and Culture: A Reader. [Third Edition]. New York: Routledge

Crowther, G. (2018). Eating Out and Gastronomy. In G. Crowther, Eating Culture: An Anthropological Guide to Food. (pp. 184-199). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Jarczewski, P. (2015, 10, 16). Why Your Food Choices are a Political Act. Retrieved from World Economic Forum:

McAuley, J. (2015, 8, 13). Food as a Power Tool. Retrieved from America: The Jesuit Review:

Peter J.M. Nas, Z. J. (2009). Nutrition and Anthropology of Food. IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (ICAF), 117-148.

Rushing, J. M. (2018, 5 24). Culture and Public Health. Retrieved from Oxford Bibliographies:

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