Cultural influences on food choice

    The concept of food consumption is much more complex than many realize. Though we do not think about it, food is at the basis of our society, culture and existence. The nutritional value of food is only a small part of the picture. Food serves as a main source of pleasure in life. People gamble for food. It is offered as a reward for deeds done. It is a social marker as well. We socialize while having dinner and lunch. Families and friends eat meals together. Food is also something we celebrate with. Food pulls together people, such as at cookouts, dinner parties, birthday parties, and banquets. Even at entertainment events, food in the form of snacks plays an important role.

    Next, if you consider the time we spend with food related activities, you can see that a great deal of our lives and the most time-consuming activities we do are food related. Consider the time we spend earning money to buy food, thinking about food at work or at school, making sandwiches or cooking elaborate meals, and buying the products needed to make the food. All of the time spent doing these activities, added up, comes to a greater part of our lives and activity associated with food turns out to be a major way we spend our time.

    Understanding the behavior and the underlying reasons for the behavior should therefore be important to us. Along with this behavior comes food choice. We eat certain things and do not eat certain other things. There are many reasons for us doing so as will be discussed below. Among the edible things in this world are many toxins. Humans along with cockroaches and rats are generalists, even more specifically, omnivores, eating animals and plants. This makes them susceptible to many possible toxins. No specific odors, sights, or other characteristics indicate toxicity of foods. So, humans must have an innate biological learning mechanism to learn about what they eat. This learning mechanism is at the foundation of what I will try to develop below. It allows our choice of foods to be influenced by experience, teachings, and emotions.

    We must therefore develop an understanding of perception of food and food selection, if not only for learning the factors that partake in it, for the potential danger foods possess. It is obvious that culture, psychology and biology play a role in influencing food choice. Culture however appears to be the major determinant of what we eat. Along with culture comes the set of rules and practices of food choice, which we acquire as we grow up, called cuisine. Culture interacts with many other factors to influence food choice. And though cuisine is one of the main influences on food choice, it is by far not the most important. It is the interactions that culture has with biological and psychological influences on food choice which are far more significant. Culture builds on human biology, elaborates and develops it. It influences the emotions and psychological states of human beings in influencing food choice.

    Biologically, we are born with an innate bias for sweet and aversion for bitter tastes. The systems of olfaction are functional at fourth month of gestation in humans (Chiva 1996). As a part of this system and other pathways in the brain, somehow "sweetness is hardwired into our system"(p. 121, Armelagos 1996). This preference for sweetness is proven to be biological because of the universality of its occurrence in all society regardless of culture. This, however, is not so for odors (Chiva 1996). We are also given an innate ability to learn everything, about which foods are good, which are bad, and which make us feel sick and which do not. It is these consequences of food which influence our emotions and strongly affect our learning abilities about what we eat, thus creating a psychological basis for food choice. We are born liking sweets, a biology that has evolutionary developed so that we consume naturally sweet things, such as fruits, which are huge in carbohydrate and energy content. This desire and attraction to sweets has prompted an industrialization and purification process of sugar. We make sure more readily available for consumption (Armelagos 1996). And this change has induced a greater consumption of sugar as well. This is evident in studies of sugar consumption in recently developing countries. Studies in Japan show this as will be discussed below. Further research is necessary in this field in order to see the extent to which cultural change has influenced our sugar intake. These studies should perhaps focus on the recently developing countries of Africa Our innate aversion to bitter tastes has evolved in a way to make us avoid potentially dangerous and toxic foods, which tend to be bitter in taste. Finally, human neo-phobia of new foods, as the omnivore’s dilemma, is also innately biological. As described above, humans eat a great many things, and since there are no specific characteristics which are associated with toxins, how do they know what new foods to try and what foods to avoid. This neo-phobia is referred to as "the omnivore's dilemma" (Rozin 1996). It is culture that provides a structure for new foods eaten as well as influencing the biological learning mechanisms.

    The definition of food is predominantly a cultural one. Culture defines what is edible and what is not. Personal habits and preferences can modify the cultural frame of reference (along with the biological). Food is like language allowing groups to be unique and different from other groups (Chiva 1996). The two special influences on food choice I choose to focus on are the case of disgust and food aversion, as well as the development of cultural cuisine. One can see disgust as interactions of culture with psychological and biological factors and cuisine as sociocultural influences on likes and dislikes and the design of sets of meals within cultures.

    In discussing this, I will first address the dimensions of food that are subject to influence: sensory effect, anticipated consequence, and ideational (value and morals). The sensory effect induced by foods refers to the taste, texture and other qualities of foods. Some of these qualities for example are sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, juicy, crunchy, creamy, flaky, and gummy. It seems evident that the sensory affects of the foods that give us pleasure would be most liked. And people choose foods based on sensory affect (Drewnowski 1996) Yet, there is no universal set of likes and dislikes of taste. Some like their foods sour or spicy, while others do not. The question arising from these common knowledge observations is ‘What influences what foods we eat?’ Apparently we eat foods whose taste is pleasurable. Our understanding of pleasure derives from a culmination of biology and culture. While some get pleasure from a combination of sour and sweet in apples, others get it from a mild masochistic pain of extremely spicy/hot foods such as chili peppers (discussed in detail below). The anticipated consequence of food ingestion is another dimension of food. Hot foods warm you up on cold winter days, while ice cream on a hot summer day is quite refreshing. A can of coke can give you a sugar and caffeine rush to finish up a late night paper. While molded bread is followed by sickness and nausea. These consequences, part of the characteristics of foods ingested, play a role in what you eat and what you do not eat. Paul Rozin, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the few experts in this field, points out that aside from quantitative information about food, one must also look at the ideational values associated with food (Rozin 1982). Ideational values are ones that deal with morals. Consumption of human excrement, for example is considered to be immoral and wrong, not to mention unhealthy. This dimension of food is most subject to influence by the society and culture in which we live. Religion also influences ideation values. The three dimensions of food just mentioned are all subject to cultural influence and together determine what people eat and what they do not.

    Next, I address the aversion of food as a main contribution to food choice, and the influences culture has on the different aspects of food aversion. A Paul Rozin (1987) points out, aversion of food is composed of four possibilities, distaste—we do not eat these foods because of their sensory properties, dangers—these foods are unhealthy and not good for us, such as allergens, inappropriates—foods which culture rules inedible because of ideational reasons, such as pencil, grass, and paper, and disgust—foods which culture rules 'not food', foul, and immoral to eat. Many foods that we do not eat have multiple aversive properties. Hindus, for example do not eat beef, because their culture and religion define cows as sacred and inappropriate as food. While feces is defined as inappropriate and disgusting by many cultures and religions. It may fit into the distaste category as well, but I have yet to meet a person with such an experience.

    The "double heritage" theory of food choice states that interactions with adults and experiences of life teach the child his cultural heritage, while his genetic chromosomal make-up composes his biological heritage. It is the interaction of these two factors, in varying degrees, which influences our behavior (Chiva 1996). In trying to understand these factors cross-cultural studies have been and more need to be done. Yet, one problem still exists, despite many attempts at resolving it. People, and children in specific, do not know how to talk about food. This makes research in this field rather difficult. How do you compare foods that are incomparable? "How do you compare steak with fries to Indian parathas?"(p.202, Chiva 1996). Foods from different cultures are different in composition, taste, texture, preparation, and presentation (cuisine). When the food is not common to the cultural repertoire we possess, it is quite difficult to understand and communicate about the food. The language barrier makes this even more difficult. One must thus compare food's attributes in an objective perspective: shape, color, sweetness, juiciness, etc. The hedonic dimension and ideational dimension arise from these characteristics of food and are then on a comparable level (Chiva 1996). It is important to develop such tools, for the study of cultural influence on food is basically the study of foods eaten by other cultures and their qualities. Such research tools must possess uniform methods of analysis and objective perspectives. Only then can we look at food choice itself.

Disgust and food aversion

    There are a great number of animal and plant species on this planet, a number that goes into the billions. Yet, if we look at the foods we consume, the number of plants and animals we eat are far below that number, under three hundred. We eat relatively few of the animal foods available, such as amphibians and rats. This is mostly due to an aversion from the food, be it distaste, danger, or disgust. While some people are allergic to shrimp, they can like shrimp. They do not have a distaste for the food, but rather an aversion to danger. Other people can dislike the taste of shrimp, but the shrimp need not be dangerous (Rozin 1987). Another form of aversion for foods is disgust.

    Many different experiences or cultural influences can induce this loathing for food. The feeling of nausea following ingestion of food, may result in feelings ranging from distaste to disgust for the food. Even if the nausea was not caused by the food and the person knows the food did not cause the illness, the person may still develop a disgust for the food (Pelchat and Rozin, 1982). This development of nausea-affiliated disgust has been shown in animals as well, where food given to mice induced sickness and the mice learned to avoid the food next time (Garb and Stunkard 1974). In this way, nausea is like a magic bullet for dislike (Rozin 1996).

    As mentioned above, disgust is an aspect of food preference that is most influenced by culture. It is culture that sets reservations on our eating behavior. We eat a lot of meat, but from only a few species (Rozin 1996). It appears that even from the species that we do consume, many of the animal parts are objects of disgust, such as cow eyes, various animal brains, cow tongue, insects, frogs, and rodents. (Andras Angyal 1941). We can see that an innate strong biological desire to eat animal foods is overlaid by reservations of culture based on ideational reasons as well as possible health consequences, which have been recently discovered. How many times have you heard "Look at the fat on that steak! That is disgusting"? The scientific community has proven in study after study that the consumption of foods high in fat and cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and cardiac failure. This potential danger has worked itself into a cultural disgust for eating animal fat, thus adaptively avoiding this high-risk behavior. Most inappropriates are determined by ideational factors. Ideational grounds are also the cause of food rejection by some cultures due to respect for food (Rozin 1987). Disgust can be extended to inappropriate objects as well, making neutral inappropriates offensive(Rozin 1987). While wood and paper may not be disgusting due to a lack of strong negative cultural affect, human and animal excrement is (Rozin 1996). Inappropriates and some disgusts acquire non-food status, but both are ideationally based categories. They both "require mediation of culture" (Rozin 1987).

    Along with disgust comes culture’s psychological notion of contamination. Contamination can be defined as the transmission of the quality of disgust from one substance to another via proximity or touch. A worm touching mashed potatoes, for example, renders the potatoes inedible due to contamination. A fly in a glass of juice will prevent most of us from drinking the juice. This is true even when a plastic fly is used (Rozin 1996). These notions of disgust and contamination are of course culture-dependent. It is culture that tells us insects and worms are disgusting and that contamination of foods can occur in touching these objects/animals. In studies done by Rozin on his students, 30% of the subjects wou not eat soup "contaminated" by stirring the soup with a brand new fly swat (Rozin and Fallon 1981). This is how deeply imbedded and strong the notion of disgust is in our culture.

    One way of describing the concept of contamination is by Frazer's (1959) general principle of sympathetic magic, and the "contagion" factor (Rozin, Millman and Nemerofff, 1986). These "laws of sympathetic magic" described further by Rozin and Nemeroff (1990), deal with traditional views of culture. The first is the "law of similarity", that an image has the same "disgust" properties of the object it represents. Eating a piece of turd shaped fudge, drinking from a bottle of sweetened water with a poison label on it, or throwing darts at a JFK picture are all things we would prefer not to do because we think they are representative of the real thing and our ideational values would not let us (Rozin 1996). The second law is the "law of contagion", stating that once the contaminating object has touched the food, it has forever touched and contaminated the food. The worm on the mashed potato example can follows this law, in that even if the parts of the mashed potatoes that touched the worm are removed, most of us would probably still not eat the potatoes. Another example that Rozin used was that of Adolf Hitler's shirt. Most of us realize that Hitler is not in a shirt that is in a museum, however we would still never wear the shirt if told that it belonged to Hitler. We affiliate the shirt with Hitler to such a degree that we are disgusted to wear the shirt (Rozin 1987).

    Pork has shown to exhibit disgust properties for most kosher jews. Meat has shown to do the same for some vegetarians (Rozin 1987). This goes to show the level to which religion and ideational values can affect food preference. It seems that it is the animalness attached to object or food that makes it disgusting. Sometimes chopping and chopping make the object less disgusting (Angyal 1941). All views on disgust seem to contain some element of cultural influence. And we can see clearly that disgust is the food aversion most influenced by culture. Aside from culture, it is also influenced by experience. Though some of the disgusts may be of adaptive benefit to the individual, others are culture's way of addressing the omnivore's dilemma by limiting the set of foods.

    Culture has not created as strong a positive emotion as disgusts are negative. "A teaspoon of sewage will spoil a barrel of wine, but a teaspoon of wine does nothing for a barrel of sewage.(Rozin 1996)" Disgust seems nearly permanent and resistant to modification by rational means (cognitive influence)(Rozin 1987). No matter how well you explain that Hitler is not in his shirt, people will still have an aversion for it. People overrate dangers of eating and associate emotions with eating. And in dealing with this phenomenon, one must try to elaborate the low risk of eating and elaborate on other greater risks people take everyday. Only nine people died of food poisoning in 1987, while 1600 choked to death.

Cultural influences on biology

    The interaction between biology and culture forms individual food preferences. "Biological factors are expressed in individuals, and culture is created by individuals.(Rozin 1982)" This goes along with the double heritage hypothesis. Genes make up the biological influences on people, while culture and experiences influence it through interactions. Experiment were conducted on seven year old children in Paris and Montreal to see the flavors and tastes the kids enjoyed or disliked. The results showed that Parisian children liked aniseed beverages, while Montrealites did not, and Montrealites enjoyed cinnamon, but the Parisians avoided it. These experiments showed that with prolonged cultural influence and experience, acquired tastes take over innate ones with experience (Chiva 1996).

    The question that arises out of this is "How do children build their food repertoir? (Chiva 1996)" The answer to this question lies in the interactions of culture and biology. In building repertoir, an important factor is the familiarity of food, and the way this familiarity is established. So, firstly, the attitude of adult who presents the food is significant (Chiva 1996). This involves the method of introduction of the food into the child's repertoire. The food has to be introduced in a positive way. As described in the Leann Birch study, ice cream or play as reward for eating spinach imposes a constraint on the child and the food. The child associates a negative image with the spinach. Where if spinach is offered as a reward for other activities, and this must be done in a clever way, the child learns to like the spinach precisely because it is the reward and it has a positive image affiliated with it. This altered motivation for eating behavior gives the child something good to be worked towards. They must psychologically think "I like it" rather than "I am being forced to eat it" (Rozin 1996). By presenting it in a non-pressured way, they learn from the adults around them.

    Studies on sugar consumption have provided a great source for observing the interactions of culture and biology in food selection. It has been demonstrated that sugar intake decreases with age, showing how innate biology is influenced by interactions with the environment (Drewnowski 1996). Fat intake does not however. Does this mean that there is an adaptation to keep eating fat? Is fat a necessity for survival? (Drewnowski 1996) One would think that these questions can simply be answered by looking at cross-cultural studies of fat and sugar intake. If sugar intake varies, but fat intake is fairly constant across cultures, one could conclude that fat intake is an evolutionary necessity and innately biological and is not influenced by culture. However this is not the case. The socioeconomic status of people in different countries does not allow for a free degree of fat and sugar intake.

    However, one can look at cultural changes with industrialization, development, and just plain trend of change and come to conclusions about the aspects of food choice affected by culture. Looking at the decline in sugar intake in France since 1970, one has to also consider the 50% incline in chocolate (high in fat) consumption. Though this data may be a partial artifact of population increase, 50% is a fairly significant increase. Wealthier nations appear to consume less complex carbohydrates in studies than poorer nations, yet a great amount of fat, and more sugar. Vegetable protein is substituted with animal protein (Drewnowski 1996). The skyrocketing hamburger consumption in Japan is also a good example of cultural changes influencing food choice. Business and cultural interactions with the West have introduced elements of our culture into that of Japan. Japan has the 2nd highest number of McDonald's restaurants in the world (Drewnowski 1996). This is a tremendous dietary change in Japan, which goes to show the power of cultural influence on food selection. In the 1930s, (life exp. 46 years) Japan has moved away from their staple of rice and grains, from which they derived 80% of their calories. Japan has also tripled its fat intake. This is extremely strange, since Japan's life expectancy has changed from being 46 years in the 1930s (before introduction of McDonald's) to the longest life expectancy in the world (Drewnowski 1996).

    The motives of food consumption must also be addressed in understanding and manipulating preference (Rozin 1987). Motivations behind coffee consumption for example can vary a great deal as studies by Cines and Rozin (1982) show. Some drink coffee for the positive caffeine effect, others for the avoidance of withdrawal symptoms, and some for social purposes (coffee break). Other people merely drink it to warm up early in the morning or just as a drink to wet the lips and fulfill thirst. In looking at ethnicity, research shows that sensory factors are important to the Jews of Philadelphia, while Italian Americans enjoy the social interactions that come with coffee. These motivations need to be understood in studying food selection.(Rozin 1987) In looking at motivations, a case study of the consumption of chili peppers has become quite popular in the field. This study addresses several aspects of food choice, but mainly the cultural influences that add the pepper to the child's food repertoire rather than the innate dislike a pepper would have because of its spiciness

    Paul Rozin studied the consumption of Chili peppers in a small village in Mexico. Chili peppers are the most common flavoring used in the world, 25% of adults in the world consume it daily (Rozin 1978). He noticed that though the animals in the village did not like the peppers, all humans in village did. Small children do not like the pepper and hot sauce at first. But as they grow in a mild pressure environment where all of the adults eat the pepper, they learn from the adults around them and start consuming the peppers as well (Rozin 1996). Rozin argues in his writings that the major source of liking foods is not parental. He provides evidence in stating that the positive correlation is only about 0.1-0.2. However, in the chili pepper case, as the study shows (by looking at the communities of the Mexican village and that of the University of Pennsylvania), children whose parents consumed chili peppers would like and consume a higher degree of peppers than children whose parents did not. Here, I would like to note my opinion that parental food selection is one of the, if not the most important environmental influence on food choice.

    Chili peppers seem to be adaptively beneficial to humans to consume. The peppers are a great source of Vitamin A and C. They also contains capsaicin, which activates salivation and intestinal flow and digestion, a way to work and clear system.(Rozin 1987). Yet at the same time, their spiciness and the pain they deliver to the mouth make it appear to be of a potentially dangerous class of toxins. It may be that humans get to like things that taste bad, hot foods, in a benign masochistic way. And as "mouth pain becomes pleasure" people realize that it is not dangerous. They then enjoy the fact that their mouth signals danger, while their mind knows otherwise (Rozin 1996).

    The children in the Mexican villages described gradually increase pepper intake, not being rewarded, not being offered pepper as reward, and allowed to refuse it. This method of introduction of the food is very important. The exposure and mild social pressure is enough to get them to like it (Rozin 1987). It is this gradual increase of intake that makes them realize that the pain is not one of danger and they start liking the food. When asked why they eat the peppers, most respond that it adds flavor and zest to the otherwise bland and simple foods (tortillas and corn) (Rozin 1987). This case study of the reversal of chili pepper dislike is a great example of how exposure to initially disliked items, and method of introduction allows culture to reverse biological biases (Rozin 1982).


    Insects are an excellent source of protein (50% in agave worm compared to 17% in lamb and pork). Yet they are extremely disliked (disgust). This is culture's influence. While other cultures eat insects, rodents such as mice, and dog meat, we do not benefit from thse food resources, because our cuisine does not contain these foods in its repertoire (Armelagos 1996). "Our cuisine carries our cultural and biological heritage and testifies to the organization of our society and our food system." (p.122, Armelagos 1996). Cuisine addresses biological needs of humans and their cultural response to such needs. Cuisine is another way in which culture influences food choice directly. It is clear that sweet foods are liked and bitter foods are disliked, without necessity of cultural influence. But how can culture influence the foods people eat? Liking food has been proven to be linked to noticing that someone else, The fact that someone else, liked and respected, likes a certain food has been shown to be very influential in the food choice of others. This is a fact that has been often used in the advertisement industry. Despite evidence Paul Rozin presents against the familial linkage of food likes, current evidence (Furst T, Connors M. in Appetite, June 26, 1996) suggests otherwise. Yet cultural influences or cuisine cannot account for why half the country likes lima beans and the other half doesn’t. Cuisine, with sociocultural factors at its basis, is itself the factor, which induces the liking of things that taste bad or may not be in the cuisine repertoire of other cultures. The chili pepper liking could be cited as such an example, though the phenomenon is also justified by the benign masochism explanation, which states that humans like to scare themselves. I do not agree with this, for people avoid too many foods from which they could get a scare.

    Three components have been set as dimensions of cuisine by researchers in the field (Armelagos 1996), food selection, methods of preparation, and patterns of consumption. Being generalists, people have a wide variety of food resources available to them. Yet they pick and choose from only a small select subgroup of these foods. These foods and their taste contribute to setting the norm of taste and choice of foods for the culture and the culture's cuisine. Because of this, food is deeply interwoven with social meaning and significance. The method of preparation of food, including the flavors, spices, length of cooking, or lack thereof contribute to creating themes within a cuisine.

    Each culture has its own unique set of flavors do draw from. Though many of the cultures use similar sets of flavors, the sets are unique in at least the combinations of flavors used. Though American and British cultures are similar, British food is made using different flavor combinations and quantities. Within a cuisine, differential use of spices (combinations) complimenting one another can be used to create variation. Flavors add to the bland-ness of some staple foods (chili pepper example, spices on tortilla; salt on peas and corn), and allow a familiarity to the food, making the introduction of different foods into the repertoire easier if the flavors are applied (flavor principle). Giving the bland food a familiar flavor allows the cuisine to provide for the nutritional requirements of a society (Armelagos 1996). Another aspect of food preparation is the time of cooking. In northeastern United States, foods are cooked long and slow, using "ongoing fireplace" and allowing the food to cook thoroughly. Japanese and Chinese cuisine use short bursts of extreme heat to cook the food. They may even not cook the food at all (sushi).

    Variability within themes and within the cuisine is quite important for the cuisine not to get dull and boring. At the same time, these factors of food preparation can be used to spice up otherwise bland foods to attain their nutritional value. Food preparation as well as consumption patterns contribute to creating the cuisine of a culture. This is all a part of the cultural influence on eating behavior. Research on patterns of food consumption is quite limited. However consumption patterns, 'the way we eat', are composed of the number of meals, the quantity of meals, the way we eat, and with whom we eat. This is all a part of cuisine. The way people eat, for example, is an important part of culture and varies across cultures. Some cultures encourage the use of hands in eating, while others use bread to sandwich the meal on their plates. Many cultures use forks and knives to aid in the eating process, while others do not want to 'butcher' the food and use chopsticks (Armelagos 1996).

    In looking at patterns of consumption, one must look at the social aspects of eating as well. In the US, for example, breakfast is a quick bowl of cereal, not necessarily had with family members. Lunch is eaten with co-workers and colleagues, while Dinner is the convocation of the family to eat the largest meal of the day together and discuss events of the day. This is different however in other countries, where the whole family eats all three meals together, and the quantities eaten are different as well. In Iran, for example, Breakfast is the main meal of the day, and a great quantity of food is consumed relative to lunch and breakfast. Yet the quality (the taste, texture, etc) of the breakfast foods is fairly similar to that of an American breakfast. Cross-cultural studies taking a look at such qualities of meals would prove interesting indeed. Presentation of the food must also be considered here as a part of cuisine, since it is highly relevant to the way we eat. In the US, in an attempt to commercialize the food industry, food is often presented by way of "fast foods". This is a change in the traditional and ideational values associated with eating. Where before families would have to come home to a cooked meal, fast foods prevent that unity of the family around a meal. This change is more apparent in countries such as Japan, with a recent rise in the fast food industry.

    Cuisine is a culturally defined set of rules and regulations for the kinds of foods we eat, the way we prepare the food, and the way we eat it. While providing a similarity among the foods eaten to protect from the omnivore's dilemma by limiting the set of eaten foods to a smaller set, cuisines offer variety as well, in the number of different foods, and the flavors added to them (Rozin 1987). Though many have tried to explain features of cuisine through their adaptive values, "nutritional anthropology" (Katz 1982, and Katz, Hediger, and Valleroy 1974), I will stand strong on Drewnowski's view-point that we eat because of taste, not macronutrient value. Cuisine offers us a variety of tastes and flavors, as well as a safe set of foods to choose from. The only adaptive part of this processs is to offer us this variety and safety as a protection from the omnivore's dilemma (Rozin 1987). Cuisine is thus the link between the sociocultural and the biocultural influence on food choice.

Significance of studying food choice

    It is variation in food brings us pleasure. Since we eat to attain pleasure as well as fulfill our hunger, learning how to increase variation is a way to gain more pleasure from our food resources (Chiva 1996). If we can learn about the strategies for altering food consumption, and take the socio-cultural and economic factors of food choice into consideration, maybe we can increase the usage of our food resources and expand our cuisine. With increasing biotechnology in foods, we must take factors influencing food choice into consideration and cater to the needs and demands of the people, though in some cases, biotechnology has altered demands of society (Tang) (Armelagos 1996). Often people want to like what they do not like, cottage cheese and healthy foods. Others want to dislike things they love, steak and hamburgers. If we could understand the factors influencing foodchoice, likes and dislikes, we can live healthier and be a lot happier (Rozin 1996). Understanding behavior of food choice makes it easier to change it, make the people happier, and improve their health. "Get Pleasure back into eating." (Rozin 1996).

    At this time, The study of food choice is very limited. More study and research takes place on the mechanisms of addiction and the biological basis of food choice rather than the sociocultural foundations of food selection. I have tried to address several of these influences and describe the interactions of these cultural influences with other factors, such as the biological basis of food selection. The field seems to concentrate on specific areas of cultural influence, cuisine and disgust, or a broad very unspecific discussion on cultural influences. I have tried to present at first a broad perspective of the field, followed by the specifics. Future research in the field should focus on cross-cultural studies of food consumption, eating patterns, and cuisine.

Selected Bibliography

Angyal, A. "Disgust and Related Aversions", Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 1941, 36: p. 393-412.

Armelagos, G.A. "'What's for Supper?' Evolution of food choice". p.117-128.

Birch, L.L.; S.I. Zimmerman; and H. Hind . (1980) "The Influence of Social-Affective Context on the Formation of Children's Food Preference." Child Development, 51.

Birch, L.L. (1987) Children's food preferences: Developmental patterns and environmental influences. Annals of Child Development, 4, p.171-208.

Chiva, "The evolution of taste: Bio-cultural perspectives"

Drenowski, "Sensory perceptions and individual preferences for sugar and fat"

Farb, P. and Armelagos, G.J. Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating, New York: Washington Square Press, Pocket Publisher, 1980.

Frazer, J.G. The New Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (abridged). New York: Macmillan, 1959.

Garb, J.L., and Stunkard, A. "Taste Aversion in Man", American Journal of Psychiatry. 1974, 131: p.1204-1207.

Katz, S. "Food, Behavior, and Biocultural Evolution", The Psychobiology of Human Food Selection, L.M. Marker, ed., Westport, CT: AVI, 1982, p. 171-188.

Logue, A.W.; I. Ophir; and K.F. Strauss (1981) "The Acquisition of Taste Aversions in Humans", Behavior Research and Therapy. 19. p 120-143.

Pelchat, M. L. and Rozin, P. "The Special Role of Nausea in the Acquisition of Food Dislikes by Humans", Appetite, 1982, 3: p.341-351.

Rozin, E. "The Structure of Cuisine". Psychobiology of Human Food Selection, ed.Baker, L.M. ,1982, Bridgeport,CT: AVI, p..

Rozin, P. "The Use of Characteristic Flavorings in Human Culinary Practice" In Flavor: Its Chemical, Behavioral and Commercial Aspects, C.M. Apt, ed., Boulder, CO: Westview, 1978, p.101-127.

Rozin, P. "Human Food Selection: The Interaction of Biology Culture and Individual Experience". Psychobiology of Human Food Selection, ed.Baker, L.M. ,1982, Bridgeport, CT: AVI, p.225-254.

Rozin, P. "Psychobiological Perspectives on Food Preferences and Avoidances", Food, 1987, 7, p. 181-204

Rozin, P., "Thinking about food and choosing food: biological, psychological and cultural perspectives" 1996, p. 171- 193.

Rozin, P. and Fallon, A. E. "The Acquisition of Likes and Dislikes for Foods", In Criteria of Food Acceptance: HowMan Chooses What He Eats, J. Solms and R.L. Hall, eds., Zurich: Forster, 1981, pp.35-48.

Rozin, P. , Millman, L., and Nemerofff, C. "Operation of the Laws of Sympathetic Magic in Disgust and Other Domains", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1986, 50: p.703-712.

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