EDITORIAL NOTEBOOKS

Broadening horizons by experiencing food culture

Meals mean more than eating, providing an atmosphere for conversation, passing many hands before the store

“What’s your favorite food?” Chances are pretty likely that you have been asked this question before. Food is one of the essential things needed in life. It is necessary for you to function and allows you to go through with your day. Aside from a nutritional point of view, there is a greater significance of the food you eat. Every day, each person makes decisions on the foods that they are going to eat. They either decide to stay in and make something themselves or maybe go out with friends to eat. Either way, food plays a significant part in the decision making process. When you go out to eat with friends, food serves as the common bond among everyone. From a social aspect, food is one reason that brings people together. Think about all the meals you have had. I am sure that most of them have been with people you are close to (like your family and friends) or people you have met recently and would like to know better. Similarly, I am sure that you’ve been invited over before by someone for a meal or you have done the same for someone else. Either way, food allows people to interact with each other and share different ideas.

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is to try its different foods. All of us have grown up with specific foods that give us comfort when we eat them. However, trying new and different foods allows us to broaden our global view. Growing up in New York City, I have had countless opportunities to try many different types of foods. From different European, Asian, Latin, and Middle Eastern cuisines, I have enjoyed and learned about how people from those regions eat and why those certain foods are significant in their culture. It almost seems that food can be its own language in the sense that you can associate it with a region or people.

Food is not only important in the social and cultural aspect, but in the economic aspect as well. There are a significant number of jobs associated with foods. From the farms that raise the foods, to the transportation systems that deliver the food, to the stores that sell the food, many people are employed and depend on the distribution of food. There are also many different businesses dedicated to making foods. They include restaurants, fast food chains, food trucks, and even farmers markets. In fact, the food industry is the largest industry in the world, as the entire world population with the exception of subsistence farmers and hunter-gathers are included. So the next time you eat something, think about the food you are eating and what it means to you.