FoodPrints, What we can learn from the history of food.
A mini-book by Krishiv Singhal
Food, and how you eat it can mean a lot more to those around you than you realise – and it can be used as a powerful tool in several ways – such as increased morale, personality perception, and as a class margin. Just to name a few. I take the position that it is imperative for society to understand and appreciate food for more than it’s nutritional value and what it symbolizes.
Hunger, is a state of mind that is both very dangerous and very powerful. Making it something very interesting to study. It is our bodies’ response to having eaten less than normal and is caused by the brain reading changes in the levels of hormones and nutrients in the blood.
Subsequently, nutrition is the study of the nutrients in food, and how the body uses nutrients. Personally, I think nutrition and food play as big of a psychological role (consciously or subconsciously) as it does biologically.
Food and table manners can form perceptions, opinions and influence emotions in people’s mind without them even knowing it.
Food can have more benefits than we think. Hippocrates realized this in 400 B.C.E when he said: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates realized that food impacts a person’s health, body and mind to help prevent illness as well as maintain wellness.
In pre-modern Europe and Asia, since ancient times, food was used for more than nutrition. Food was often used to affect health. For instance, garlic was used to cure athlete’s foot, and eating ginger was thought to stimulate the metabolism. Today, even though we have better ways to treat Athlete’s foot and stimulate metabolism. We can still use food to better society and improve our lives on the same concept. I believe that food can be used in the modern world to affect people’s psychology.
Today, with depression at an all-time high and morale crashing at many places with digital technology on the rise. Food can help solve some of these problems. According to a study in Australia – eating fruits and vegetables can make you happier. The study followed over 12,000 people for over 2 years, the researchers asked the people whether they normally ate fruit and vegetables, and how much they ate. The participants were also asked how satisfied they were with their lives, on a scale from 0 to 10. The researchers then tracked the people’s diets, including whether they had increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables during the study period. The results showed that the people who began eating more fruits and vegetables during the study period showed increased levels of life satisfaction by the end of the study. Other studies have found that B6 deficiency can lead to depression. This basically shows that different foods can help people in ways other than having carbohydrates and should be taken seriously. Society needs to understand that food can be a cure for some problems and is something that we should use to our benefit.
Another hidden role food has and another reason for society to understand food better is that – food and how we eat it can form perceptions and opinions in other’s minds’ about you. All throughout our history, the elite have eaten better, eaten better food and eaten at a better place than those below them in the social class. In medieval times, the kings ate more lavishly and better food than peasants below them. Today, when we think of social classes, we think of iPhone’s and cars, not often do we think about food. However, food and how you eat it can paint a subconscious picture of someone in your head. Imagine, that you and a group of 3 friends are eating dinner together. If one of them shows up in a Bentley, but eats like an animal, and another shows up in a taxi but eats with good etiquette – you are more likely to want to be with the latter. In fact, I asked 10 people who they would hang out with afterwards, and 9 out of 10 said they would be with the latter (the other one just wanted a ride in the Bentley!) This is because subconsciously – your brain has already decided that the latter is of a better social class than the former, due to hundred’s of years of observing the richer eating food better. People need to understand this and take into account when they try to influence someone’s opinion on them.
Food can also easily give away your personality “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are” said Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. This quote explores the relationship between humans and what they eat. The contents of what we eat can tell a lot about us to people watching us. People can make out your personality from the food you eat either consciously or in some cases – subconsciously.
An example of such personality perception using food is – spicy food, can mean you’re a risk taker. In a 2013 study researchers gathered the answers of 97 people who rated the intensity of capsaicin samples. After analyzing their answers alongside the results of a personality survey, they found that people who took more risks like driving fast on a twisty road were more likely to enjoy and eat spicy foods. They also found that people sensitive to reward were also more likely to eat spicy foods. In another study, researchers found that people who like sweets, such as candy, caramel, and chocolate cake, tend to be friendly and compassionate. These findings show that it really isn’t that difficult to get to know someone better. If you just look at their food choices more carefully, you can get to know a lot about the person.
Essentially, what I’m saying is that – if people look carefully enough, if society really understands what food is, it could completely change our way of living. Food is a powerful tool that society has not been appreciated for a lot of history, and it is about time that we took advantage of it.
Thanks for reading!
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