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Lecture 1

ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Hot Dog, Paleolithic Diet, Omnivore

Course Code
Andrew Wade

of 4
Lecture 10
Food as Biological Necessity
Six Major Classes of Nutrients
- Carbohydrates
- Fats Macronutrients
- Proteins (amino acids)
- Vitamins
- Minerals Micronutrients
- Water
Necessary to maintain life. Regulate biological processes. Needed for growth,
maintenance and reproduction. Essential nutrients must be provided by diet. Vitamin C is a
requirement for life, humans cannot make enough so we must keep ourselves aligned by
gathering vitamin c that is premade in other substances. Without vitamin C = scurvy.
Macronutrients are needed in large amounts. Metabolic energy to keep our body moving.
Micronutrients needed in small amounts. Do not provide any energy on their own but
assist with macronutrients.
Cultural Aspects of Food
Food choices are determined by:
- Cultural
- Religious
- Environmental
- Economical
- Personal Factors
Food & Religion / Ritual
- Adam and Eve
- Eucharist
- Ramadan
- Algonquin ‘Feast of the Dead’ – perform ceremonies to honour and remember the dead,
takes place over a period of 10 days, will dig up bones of ancestors and carry to new site
Ritual Sacrifice and Cannibalism
- Sun God needed to be fed blood and human hearts
- Believed that they were chosen people
Mexico: Day of the Dead & Feast of the Dead
- Celebrate children and the dead
- Welcoming dead back into their homes and visiting graves
- Decorating grave site with flowers, enjoying a picnic
- Interacting socially with other family members and others that gather
- Tell stories
- Meat dishes, spicy sauces, chocolates, “Bread of the dead”
Celebrations, Rites of Passage
- North American households celebrate birthdays (cake), thanksgiving (turkey)
Food as Competition
- Hot dog eating contest
Potlach Ceremony
- Lasted several days
- Validating social status positions
- Gifts
Food is…
- Sustenance and symbol (biological and cultural)
- Linked to status and power (e.g., potlach)
- Involved in defining and maintaining social relations (=food is social)
EXAMPLE – match the eating context with the social meaning
o Home cooked meal by candle light à a romantic evening
o A cup of coffee à a first meeting
o Sunday brunch / Dim sum à a casual get together with friends and family
o Lunch at Tim Horton’s à a routine meal in an extended friendship
Modern Food Icons
- Jamie Oliver
- Gordon Ramsey
- Rachel Ray
Eat like our Ancestors!
- 100 mile diet
- Paleo diet
Early Food Production
- Earliest evidence from Near East
- Wild grasses – 12,000 BCE
- Domesticated grains – 10,000 BCE
- Humans controlling food
Influences on Early Food Production and Diet
- Geography – what is suitable for agricultural land use
- Access to water
- Growing conditions – temperature impacts the kind of crops grown and the seasons
they can be grown in, depends on amount of sun, humidity and temperature
Universals in Human Food Use
- Omnivorous diet – eat both meat and veggies
- Cooking – unique to humans, boiling, roasting, frying
- Intensive food preparation – more time spent
- Elaborate systems of food distribution, sharing, and exchange
- Food prohibitions and preferences in every culture
Food Classification Systems
- People tend to classify foods in different ways, according to their culture
- Foods can be:
o Edible – inedible
o Hot – cold
o Male – female
o Wet – dry
o Raw – cooked
Hot and Cold Classification of Foods
- Common in Latin America and Asia
- Originally from Greek theory of health (4 humours)
- Health – balance of opposing elements
- Basic idea in Greek, Indian, Chinese and Arabic medical systems
Food Restrictions
- Food preferences – likes/dislikes
- Food restrictions – periodic denial of certain foods (e.g., pregnant women)
- Food taboos – deliberate avoidance
Food Taboos
- Food taboo defined – “ the deliberate avoidance of a food item for reasons other than
simple dislike from food preferences”
- Pigs – Muslim, Jewish, Ethiopian, Orthodox Christians
- Cows – Hindu
- Carnivores eaten in few cultures
- Almost universal taboo against eating humans, cannibals are rare
How do we Explain Food Taboos?
1. A marker of a group; a way of separating your group from others (identity)
2. Protection against diseases
3. Ecological theories (Marvin Harris, see page 146)
Food Restrictions Food Taboos