Factors that Influence Food Habits and Culture
Food habits are defined as the manner and reason behind how people eat, the kinds of foods that they choose to eat, whom they share their food with, as well as how they obtain their food, use, store and dispose of it. Many factors affect the food habits and these may include culture, geographical location, the health and lifestyle of an individual, their religion, social, and economic factors among other things (Bellisle, 2012, p.1).
As a geographical factor, climate significantly affects our eating habits. This is because climate determines the period through which food grows and also affects the planting seasons every year. Since every region experiences different weather, there is also a difference in the output. Most of the warmer regions tend to have three to four crop cycles every year. On the other hand, the colder regions tend to have one annual crop cycle. Similarly, seasons also influence the food habits and cultures that are developed by different people because most individuals will often choose to consume different kinds of foods during different seasons, be it summer or winter (Bellisle, 2012, p. 1). For example, hot pot is usually popular with most people in China during the cold winter, because it helps to warm them up. Nevertheless, the popularity of hot pot dwindles drastically during the summer. In addition, the geographical location is also a key element that influences food habits and cultures. Individuals who live near the sea will often eat more sea food in comparison to those that reside in inland areas that are far from the sea. This is why I think that geographical factors have an impact on the food habits and cultures.
An Individual’sHealth and Lifestyle
People who have certain health problems may be required to consume specific foods in their diets and they therefore exercise more caution and tend to be selective with what they buy and consume. For instance, a person suffering from diabetes will ultimately consume very different foods from an individual who does not ahve any health problems. Nonetheless, there are certain individuals who may not have any health problems yet are very particular about their food and they are strict with their lifestyles such that they cannot buy any unhealthy foods. Recent concerns over health and lifestyles have led to the categorization of individuals based on the foods that they consume (Faqs.Org, 2014, p. 1). For example due to lifestyle and health concerns, there are different types of vegetarians who have come up. Serious vegetarians are the types that do not eat any animal products. There are also other vegetarians who consume some animal products such as milk and eggs yet refrain from eating any meat. There are also other individuals who can eat only white meat but not red meat. Ultimately, the choice is more about how concerned an individual is with their lifestyle as well as health.
Different cultures also tend to embrace diversefood habits. In addition, culture can also affect the preparation techniques that people use with their foods as well as the manner in which they consume such food. The food culture in a place like Mexico is very different from that of France. Therefore, when individuals originate in areas where the food culture is different, they tend to adopt their cultures, but as they interact with others, they also borrow from their food cultures. For example, the Latinos who reside in California are very strict with themselves and their food cultures hence they only adopt food habits that are like those in their cultures, and when they incorporate this within their food culture, they do it differently so that it matches their foods more than those of the countries of origin.
Religious factors also influence the food habits and cultures that we adopt.There are certain religions that forbid their followers from consuming some kinds of foods and particular examples of these arethe Muslims and Jews are not allowed to eat pork, and the Hindus are forbidden from eating beef. In addition. there are particular religions that consider consumption of alcohol as wrong, while there are those that allow their followers to drink wine. Moreover, religions such as the Seventh –day Adventist forbids their followers from drinking any stimulating beverages such as alcohol which are permissible among other religions such as the Catholics.
A person’s social background can also influence their food habits. People tend to settle on their food habits based on their interaction with diverse situations as well as factors, and this makes it hard for them to make their own uninfluenced decisions every time regarding food. Even though such an individual may posses personal food habits, their regular interaction with other people can influence them to the extent that they are unable to resist the temptation of embracing the food habits of the other individual. Many people spend so much time away from home due to academic and career pursuits that may lead them far away(Faqs.Org, 2014, p. 1). The social setting they live in will influence the types of food that they eat depending on what will be available.
The amount of money that an individual has at his disposal will also influence what type of food he can afford to purchase. Nevertheless, the cost of food may not necessarily match its actual value. The skills and experiences of an individual will determines what they eat and some people who have exceptional culinary skills will often enjoy making their own food. These people may totally avoid eating food in restaurants and other outlets because they insist on making their own meals (Faqs.Org, 2014, p. 2). On the other hand, there are also individuals who do not like to prepare their own meals and as such are more likely to buy ready meals including junk food. This shows that the perception that a person has concerning cooking can affect the food habits they choose.
Bellisle, F. (2012). The Determinants of food choice. European Food Information Council. Retrieved from http://www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/review-food-choice/
Faqs.Org (2014). Eating habits – food, nutrition, body, diet, health. [Online] Retrieved from: http://www.faqs.org/nutrition/Diab-Em/Eating-Habits.html [Accessed: 1 Mar 2014].