Eating is a vital, biological need, which in a first approximation could be defined, in the view of economists, in a simple balance of income and expenses. But like other aspects of human life that have been given a mechanistic view or displacement of chemical equilibria, eating is not governed only by a balance of nutrients with the complementary effects of vitamins, trace elements and functional specific as some try to make you believe.
In our collaborations we have always maintained that eating is more than just a feed that should be balanced. Remember our article “We are what we eat? or do we eat what we are?”.
Following the study of the influence of culture on eating, a group of anthropologists organize the IV International Congress of the Food Observatory located in the University of Barcelona to celebrate in June of this year under the title: “Other ways of eating: Elections, convictions, restrictions”.
It is fascinating just to read the call that opens the mind of the most profane to understand situations that you probably know from day to day. I refer to quote some fragments:
(…) “Food has been subject to rules and customs that intersect at different levels of symbolization. The uses of the food and its combinations, the order of the same, the composition, the number and the hours of the different intakes are coded in a more or less precise way, the result of a process whose meaning and reason are to be found in the history of every society or culture. Given the symbolic meaning of food, the food practices of an individual are identified with a certain social, ethnic, age, ideological, religious group …
However, in a context of hypermodernity, the traditional relationship with food seems to have changed, which is not based so much on the inherited culture, but on multiple and diverse considerations external to it – ideological, ethical, aesthetic, health overlap the established food model. In any case, in each culture or country, situations may be different. While some leave more autonomy to individuals and value choice as an exercise of freedom and responsibility, others give more importance to commensality and social rules related to the table. Contemporary individualism tends to leave more and more food autonomy to individuals, although in return they are required more responsibility in relation to the need to adopt a “healthy diet”.
Contemporary society does not stop inventing ways of feeding that can contribute to the increase of autonomy, independence, and privacy of individuals. But that individuals are “free” to eat anything does not mean that society does not propose “good reasons” to eat some foods instead of others. The “reasons” can be medical or health (disorders of eating behavior, diseases, intolerances and various food allergies, “therapeutic”), religious (Kosher, Halal, Ayur-veda …), ethical-moral (vegetarianism, macrobiotic, crudivorismo …), ecological, socioeconomic (ecologism, freeganismo, proximity foods, welfare services …), aesthetics (slimming or muscle-building regimes …), etc. These conceptions are, obviously, very different from each other as regards both their reasons and the implications. Dietary restrictions motivated by a physiological reason, such as celiac disease, imply a “necessary exception”, an “individual imperative” and a “social response”. Personal restrictions, on the other hand, can be a source of pride, self-satisfaction and / or vindication and can be presented with a “function of expression of values” insofar as they allow others to communicate their most intimate convictions. Each of these food particularisms implies different types and degrees of exclusion or self-exclusion of traditional food uses related to commensality and, to a certain extent, they question them.
From these considerations, the congress aims to address the multiplication of other ways of eating that have appeared and continue to appear in our society as a result of various factors such as the progression of individualism, medicalization, multiculturalism and the socio-economic crisis. of his social questioning. Thus, the congress aims to answer questions such as the following: Is the progressive loss of food sociability expressing a loss of sociability in general, a progressive decrease in social cohesion and, therefore, an increase in social fragmentation? Or is it simply another manifestation of a reflective society, characterized by the increase in individualism and rationalization that is assigning a new place and role to food whose socio-cultural contents are still in the process of being built? To what extent do the different ways of eating reflect a new sociability, which abandons the collective sense structures passed to form others more in tune with the individual experiences? “(…)
Only the approach leads us to discover the complexity of eating. It is to thank the organizers to include the problem of food in times of crisis. Realistically address the food problem of the so-called first world, rich with wide gaps of poverty. For the inverse case (the so-called third world) another specific congress is required.
Triptolemos Foundation collaborates in the greater articulation of the global food system, so that it results in a greater availability and quality of food, in trust and dignity, in an environment of global sustainability. And with the conviction that there can not be a sustainable and socially balanced development if, at the base, the global food system does not maintain the balance among all its actors.