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Food and identity

Food fulfils more than biological need – we make food choices according to our cultures and contexts. Read on to find out about the sociology of food.
nutritional pyramid
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Cultural anthropologists and sociologists have long recognised that food fulfils far more than biological need – this is clear from the fact that no society on the planet consumes all the sources of food available to them; they tend to eat a limited range. There are cultural motivations behind our food choices and some scholars argue that food is a language, communicating our ideologies – be they personal, social, religious or cultural.

The 2 PDF articles attached to this page explore various aspects of our historic relationship with food. The first article, Food and Identity 1, uses the UK to consider the impact of climate change upon agriculture. It looks at food security and our ‘just-in-time’ food distribution system. The second article, Food and Identity 2, takes us back to the Mesolithic period (roughly 20,000-5,000 BCE depending upon world regions) to explore the food habits of our ancestors.

Think about: If food is a language, what does it say about us? Tell us about the family or community food traditions that you have grown up with. In the next step we will discuss the extent to which these traditions are sustainable.

© Except for third party materials and where otherwise indicated, the copyright in the content provided on this page is owned by The University of Nottingham and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike UK 2.0 Licence
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