ASB 300 Food and Culture:
My passions are in the wide arenas of health and wellness. I chose Health as my GCSP theme in order to explore the challenges that involve and impact human well-being. At the core of human existence lies one of our most fundamental needs: food – or simply the need to provide our bodies with nutrients to sustain the processes that keep us alive. Food is both extremely basic, while highly complex. It is a global and fundamental human need, yet it differs widely in custom and type across states, countries, and cultures. The global shifts in diet in recent years have been a primary underlying cause of many of the world’s largest health concerns, including the extreme rise in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease seen across the globe. For this reason, studying and understanding the intricate relationships between food and culture is critical to gaining a more in-depth picture of how we can begin to combat these serious health problems.
I chose to take the course Food and Culture to gain a better understanding of the unique views and relationships different cultures have with food. By knowing more about how a particular culture treats and thinks about food, I hoped to gather insights into possible ways to combat the major health crises facing our society. The course intertwined sociology, biology, anthropology, and psychology to encourage students to think critically about food’s relationship to the human experience. It was important for students to grasp the integration of food not just with our bodies, but as a core of economic, political, and societal stability. The course employed comparative analysis to look at how food and food patterns have changed, adapted, and developed over time and across borders.
The primary goals of the course were to provide students with the ability to recognize and explain the many complexities of human eating, food beliefs, and dining habits. The connection and relationship between food and many order domains of life was highly emphasized to demonstrate that food is much more than simply the substance that we eat. There are extreme political and economic structures built and standing fully on the foundation of food.
After taking this course, I feel I have a much better understanding of just how complex our modern society’s relationship with food truly is. Prior, I would look at the chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes and think that if we can just change people’s diet, we can fix this problem. However, the other societal structures put in place around food, namely those of economic and unique cultural importance, make this reality much more difficult to achieve. In regards to the Grand Challenges, understanding food is a good place to start when it comes to understanding people as a whole. Food is so deeply integrated into every aspect of our daily lives that it is often difficult to step outside of this to see the whole picture. I believe that taking this course expanded my knowledge base of the complex nature of “big problems” that face our society, such as those of Grand Challenges. Moving forward in the arena of health, I now feel better prepared to think analytically about all aspects of the problem, rather than the most obvious facet.