Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Food Prejudices

Price and prejudice removed (which is rare), most people eat what is good for them. If they didn't, they would not survive. Unprejudice normal appetite is the best guide to nutrition. Man and rat are omnivorous creatures; they eat everything. Even some of the things we call prejudices or superstitions about eating have a sensible basis, sunk sometimes in deep folk wisdom. For example; on a particular island in the South Pacific, it was observed that all food was liberally sprinkled with pepper made from a pepper tree that grew in front of every household. Indeed, the marriage ritual of people on this island absolutely required that the girl to be married must take shoots or seeds from the pepper tree in front of her mother's house, and plant and grow them in front of her own. When a scientific analysis of the diet of these people was made, it was discovered that the pepper tree was the only source of vitamin C on the island.
Some personal food prejudices also have a reasonable basis in physiology and psychology. When a person says he doesn't like milk or eggs, or chocolate, or onions he may well know by personal experience that this particular food or beverage does not agree with him. He may indeed have a slight or pronounced allergy to it. Allergy to cow's milk, for instance, occurs both in infancy and later life.
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to avoid foods that you can still taste for several hours after eating foods that "repeat on you," as the saying goes. It is also understandable that you may resist foods that were forced upon you at some time earlier in your life. You may secretly feel that you are swallowing your pride with every mouthful, and this masked resentment is a detriment to digestion. On the other hand you may learn to like foods that you formerly disliked sometimes because you have discovered their nutritional value.
The child who cries for candy, ice cream, or soda pop may sometimes be expressing a real need for the extra caloric values that they make quickly available or for the love and affection the giving of them represents. The disgruntled, crying child may also be lacking other nutrients often minerals in his diet.
We must also reconcile sex differences in attitudes toward food. Women have a different outlook from men. Father may "bring home the bacon," but mother cooks it. Woman has traditionally played the role of food-giver in the household; indeed, this may be considered an extension of the mammary function. As food-giver, a woman holds a position of power in the household, and the psychological implications of this fact should not be overlooked. To give (or withhold) food is in the final analysis to have the power of life or death, and even in subtler ways it is a means of controlling members of a family.
Men are interested in good food ("good home-cooked meals, like mother used to make," they say), but women spend more time with food (count the hours in the grocery store and the kitchen) and have special interest in the preparing and giving of food which men do not generally share. Of course, there are famous male chefs, such as Oscar of the Waldorf, but this is a professional business, not a matter of crucial interpersonal relationships. Most men eat what is set before them by their mothers and wives. Hence it is not surprising that women are often more interested than men in learning about foodstuffs.

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