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  • Food and Culture



    What is culture without it's food? This question has been on m mind lately. (Maybe I'll re-route my master's thesis towards it). The more days that pass the more foods I realize I will not be ever eating in the future. I'm struggling with cravings but at the same time realizing the many layers to this transition to true health. One of these layers is culture.


    I'm visiting England for four months, staying in Devon, the South West. This area is known for it's Devonshire double cream. We went for a drive through a scenic national park two days ago, and we passed a sign advertising 'Home-Made Local Devonshire Ice Cream' being sold on the farm. I was struck with an insistent urge to stop the car, for what could bring about more of a 'local' experience than such sweet and innocent stop for road-side ice cream?! Then it hit me: ice cream has sugar. And, I am off dairy. No more road-side ice cream! I thought of all the road trips I've been on and all the stopping for ice-cream across North America, and in Europe (Gelato!) that I've had.


    I've had the same realization with many things. No more croissants. No more beer. So this experience is nothing new.


    My thoughts aren't altogether succinct on this topic, but how food and culture are interlinked go beyond social situations. What and how we eat shapes the way we see the world. It's political. And it's very much about community.


    With the last in mind, I am so grateful for the community on this forum. I am grateful for all the links that people have been sharing. There's an irony for me here: I'm getting a sense of a community on this forum, however I am desperately wanting to extract myself from the internet. That's a whole other topic, but I'm faced with that tension every day.


    Anyway, just some thoughts. I know there are tons of books out there on the topic. Anyone have any suggestions for reading?


  • #2
    1



    You make several good points. I was a very good baker before going primal, and had developed several traditions around it: baking Christmas cookies for family, birthday cakes for friends, pastries from fresh, seasonal ingredients that I'd been making since I was little. Baking was an important way I'd show affection for people I cared about, and I haven't found a substitute for it. (Continuing to give unhealthy things to people I love doesn't seem right, and a well-cooked steak just doesn't convey the same emotion).


    The PBS documentary "The Meaning of Food" covers what you discuss (and is available on Netflix). I'm very thankful for the primal community, too. It'd be nice to have more like-minded people in your physical proximity though, huh?

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    • #3
      1



      There are wonderful food traditions in my city. Some of them are primal (a hearty bowl of cioppino) and some are not (butter-fried pierogies). But if I have to stay away from all the wonderful traditional foods forever, then a primal lifestyle is not sustainable. Food culture isn't as important as my health, but it's still very important to me. I figure if I'm eating good 90% of the time, that's about 100x better than I was before.


      I don't have any books about food culture for you however. (videogames and literacy yes, food and culture no)

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      • #4
        1



        I couldn't agree more. I actually run a bakery! I feel like a complete fraud, as I don't believe in what I sell anymore and yet I cannot just walk away from a business I have cultivated from nothing!

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        • #5
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          @leslie: You're very right about the baking dilemma. Growing up, I'd always bring home things from the bakery as 'treats' for the family.


          Now I feel guilty bringing in cookies to work (what else can you bring to work?) and going for coffee with my dad (he always buys the baked goods at the coffee shop- sugar-rush first thing in the morning, not the healthiest).


          I've tried to find healthier alternatives to enjoying culture than through food- when travelling, try hiking or strolling the local parks and even streetside shopping.

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          • #6
            1



            I'm still pretty new to this, but the baking thing is going to be a struggle for me, I always bake for my friends. I'm thinking about trying some of the primal baked goods, like macaroons and the such, to see if maybe I could start baking that sort of thing instead of my usual apple pies and chocolate chip cookies.

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            • #7
              1



              I've tried 'primal baking' (pumpkin bread, banana pancakes with almond flour, etc.) but have not had much success. They end up being high in carbs anyway, the appropriate level of sweetness is hard to achieve, and they just don't match the texture of the real things.


              One slightly better substitute I've come up with is homemade ice cream. I use pastured cream and eggs, a little bit of pure maple syrup or raw honey, and whatever fruits, vegetables, or spices/cacao I feel like using to flavor it. It allows for creativity, and is certainly a novel treat for my family/friends.


              Now that I'm cutting out dairy, though...

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              • #8
                1



                If you have a Vitamix, or other high power blender, it is easy to make somewhat primal dairy free ice cream.

                Almond milk, frozen strawberries(mixed berries,blueberries whatever), a little honey or maple syrup if the berries are too tart for you.

                Or use coconut milk with frozen berries, sometimes a dash of vanilla or cinamon

                Follow the rough proportions list from Vitamix and the mixing instrucitons and you are set - icecream in less than 2 or 3 minutes

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                • #9
                  1



                  I've been pondering this question lately too. One of my main goals in life is to travel as much as possible, but how would trying to stay away from non PB food affect that?

                  I'm Peruvian, so my family goes to visit Peru almost every summer. I'd say 95% of the food there contains potatoes, rice, grains, and/or sugar. Most of the vegetables and fruit can be dangerous too from the water (which makes Americans sick). How can I really experience Peruvian culture-- which puts a great emphasis on good food and good drink-- when trying to stay away from that?

                  It's a problem I'm still working on...


                  Going along with the food/culture idea: I'm living in a dorm and going to a Dining hall. So far I'm noticing the absence of food culture here at school. I wonder if that has anything to do with the relative acceptability of top ramen, gold fish, and popcorn. Everyone complains about food constantly and how horrible it is but few people make the effort to buy good food themselves. I know a lot of it has to do with lack of funds and inexperience in the kitchen, but I wonder if lacking a food culture (or having a minor, negative view towards food on campus) has any effect on what people are eating? (I've seen people skip the dining hall-- which has a decent salad bar and fresh fruit, if nothing else-- in favor of eating plain rice or top ramen in their room) What effect does not enjoying at least 1/3 of your meals have on your overall mindset? Does lacking a food culture effect the campus culture as a whole?

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                  • #10
                    1



                    lesliek, my favorite website for baking is this one:


                    http://milkforthemorningcake.blogspot.com/


                    I am at the moment off eating nuts, so the recipes are not as useful, but the prose and photos are beautiful!

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                    • #11
                      1



                      I remember a strategy I had for a two-week vacation I took with an emphasis on the great western American national parks.


                      I ate a simple breakfast: eggs and fruit.

                      I ate a salad with protein and olive oil and vinegar for lunch.

                      For dinner, I allowed myself one of the following: either wine, OR a richer entree OR a dessert. If I had wine or dessert, I ordered just fish, chicken or meat and veggies and salad.


                      I got a LOT of activity: either hiking or climbing, if it was going to be a long day in the car, I got up early and went for a run.


                      But the superseding rule was, if there was something special and local that I couldn't get at home, I would have it. Blue cornmeal pancakes, Navajo frybread, etc.


                      Mark says 80% is sufficient. I say, eat the ice cream and enjoy every lick. If your default position is primal, a few blips shouldn't derail you. Excessive rigidity cuts down on life's pleasures.


                      Sooze

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                      • #12
                        1



                        I think, as much as we would like to believe otherwise, for many immigrant families in the US, food isn't just a part of our culture, it nearly IS our culture. As a Romanian, our ethnic diet is very similar to paleo. But as an American, I'm more used to non-paleo food. However, I always remind myself that I can have that food, too. It's just when I want, and that doesn't come around much. Telling myself I can't eat something doesn't sound very sustainable.


                        Example: I just booked a trip out to LA. I've never been out there, but everybody raves about In and Out, and I'm a burger FANATIC. You can bet your ass I'm getting one with all the fixins.

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                        • #13
                          1



                          I've had In and Out, I didn't think that it was very good. Now if you want an awesome burger, go to Toronto and hit up Licks. Now THOSE are burgers!

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                          • #14
                            1



                            You won't be dissapointed! I love In & Out. Their burgers taste home-made. They are that good.

                            Carpe Diem!

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                            • #15
                              1



                              It wouldn't really be an issue if you were in it for the right reason. I for one want to be as healthy and vital as possible and that makes it very easy to abstain from poisoning myself.

                              Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

                              Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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