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Lecture 16

ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 16: Cud, Gluten, Book Of Deuteronomy

Course Code
Tristan Carter

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Food Taboos: abstaining from specific foods/beverages for religious, cultural, legal or other
social prohibitions
Distinct from health-based aversions (i.e. gluten, lactose, etc)
Known in most societies
Can be temporary
E.g. no meat/alcohol during lent
Can be perennial
E.g. no pork
Examples of Food Taboos
Most Western countries (Canada → ‘animal cruelty’)
Forbidden in Islamic and Jewish laws → carnivores
Cuisine in Guangdong, China
Many Hindu people are vegetarians
Beef is taboo - respect for the cow (source/symbol of life)
Dairy products revered and used in ritual ceremonies
Some Chinese also refrain because of use in agriculture
Illegal/blasphemous in most countries
Long history (mythic?)
Ways of creating ‘the barbaric other’
‘Long-pig’ of Polynesia
Neanderthal cannibals
Intake of power/spirit
Why do Jews and Muslims not eat pork?
“And the pig, because it has a split hoof, but does not chew the cud; it is
unclean for you. You shall neither eat of their flesh nor touch their carcass”
(Deuteronomy 14:8)
“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and
that on what hath been invoked the name of other than Allah” (Al-Qu’ran 5:3)
Members of both faiths do not eat carnivores
Further Examples of Food Taboos
Women not allowed bananas, or red coloured fruit
No one should eat food cooked by a menstruating woman
No bottom feeding fish
Explaining Food Taboos: What is there purpose?
For reasons of health
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To protect certain resources
To monopolise certain resources
Evolutionary adaptations for best survival
As an expression of empathy
Interpreting pork taboos in relation to health ...
Eat anything, scavengers
Eat and sleep in their own feces
Thus ‘filthy creatures’, ‘unclean’ and unhygienic
High levels of fat = unhealthy
Establishing taboos to monopolise resources
Senegal women and kids can’t eat chicken - men benefit
Australian aboriginals - honey (rar and sweet) - male only
Alcohol consumption and gender
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