Food is more than a collection of nutrients. Human beings all over the world share a common need to meet certain fundamental conditions for survival. One of these needs is securing an adequate diet, which will provide energy and the various nutrients necessary for metabolic functioning. The range of human nutritional requirements is fairly narrow, but the ways in which these similar requirements are met are hugely diverse. Vastly differing dietary patterns, utilizing thousands of different foodstuffs and combinations of foodstuffs are capable of achieving the same end-that of survival.
The variety of substance, which are consumed as food by various people of the world is truly remarkable; though for any given culture group, the list of accepted foodstuff is usually severely curtailed. For example, North American Indian tribes traditionally ate over hundred kinds of seeds, roots and nuts, while the South American Indian tribes ate monkey, iguanas, grubs, bees and head lice, while the Aborigines of Australia relished insects.
Sometimes humans learn to consume and prefer substances, which are intrinsically unpalatable. Coffee and chilli are flavors, which have become widely desired despite the bitter and burning sensation they evoke. Food has always been much more than a source of body nourishment, it has played a major part in the social life, both religious and secular of human groups.
A rough glance through scientific and humanities literature or even a reflective thought is enough to produce ready agreement with the idea that culture is a major determinant of what we eat. Food intakes fulfill both biological and cultural stimuli, i.e. fulfills both biological and social needs. Food chosen, methods of eating, preparation, number of meals per day, time of eating and the size of portion eaten make up human food ways and are an integrated part of the cultural pattern...