There is something so amazingly wild about food. It comes in all shapes, colours, smells, and tastes. Different ingredients change from place to place, and from dish to dish. It brings people together from all different backgrounds and cultures, but it also separates people and is used to control masses. Food is something that makes us all smile. "What's for dinner tonight?" is a question that has been asked for millions of years. But have you ever looked down at your plate full of delicious grub and think, "what is the story behind what I am eating?" Today we are going to talk about something ever so dear to all our hearts. You guessed it, food. Not just how flipping awesome it is, but how the things we eat every day and the dishes that make us want to learn more about different cultures got to the way they are today. How has food changed and shaped cultures and how is it changing today?
A Brief History on The Importance of Food: Long ago when early hominids were moving across the savannahs, they set out in search of more food. Two million years later the search continues. When humans were hunter-gathers, getting a big animal to harvest or finding a large patch of wild fruit would bring the tribe together. Forming stronger bonds making them more united and stronger, giving them an upper hand on tribes that were not able to have such luck. Tribes that would get a large harvest would also share with neighboring tribes creating alliances, this, in turn, would create the trading of ideas. Letting them work together peacefully, which would eventually start the agriculture revolution.
The agriculture revolution was the start of our known "foodie” craze. As soon as early humans were able to start farming and able to store their goods, some 12,000 years ago, our love for food grew from basic survival to full out culinary curiosity. Farming allowed humans to start having more children due to the fact they no longer had to move from location to location. It also provided an economy, allowing cities and villages to trade their farmed goods for other farmed goods. All this exchanging of goods and information brought different ideas on how different foods should be eaten. Which would eventually lead to a full-blown culinary exploration.
Today many of the places we know of and visit were built on early trade routes. And what were these countries trading? Food. Mostly spices and dried meats. Many countries were found and developed while forming these trade routes. Humans obsession with food mixed with our undying need to explore has connected our world. Allowing us to share ideas and cultural practices and shaping the world we live in today. Christopher Columbus found "The New World" looking for a new route to trade goods such as spices and meats. The world as we know it today was created on hunger.
After the agricultural revolution began, different religions started to form, and many beliefs that previously existed were forever shaped. These faiths built the foundations of their practices around how large or how little their harvest was. Human Sacrifices, Punishment, and disengagement from human activities like sex are some of the things that would be addressed when people thought the gods were mad and holding out on a full yield. This also created many different cultural differences. When the communities people would have conflicting opinions on why the fields were dry the community would divide leaving the people who did not put their faith into a god moving on trying to find new sources of food. This created early separation which gave humans the option of exploring new places and new resources. Different people have different ideas, which creates different communities. With everything that food has done good for us, it has also brought lots of exploitation and control.
The Dark Side Behind Our Favorite Dishes: Feijoada, Gumbo, Lobster, and caviar are some of the many dishes that where once considered poor people or slave food. These dishes were mostly created and consumed by slaves and people of the lower social class. Today these dishes are considered delicacies and are consumed by everyone everywhere and typically cost a pretty penny. When Christopher Columbus found the New World he landed in the Bahamas coming across cane sugar and many other food resources that not only tasted amazing but would also create massive economic growth. So, doing what conquerors do he found thousands of working bodies and enslaved them. Giving birth to the transatlantic slave trade in America. They would sell the new found resources that where being farmed and sell them back to England and Europe for a cheaper price. With the slave trade came many culture clashes creating a bunch of multi-cultrual traditions and dishes many of which today are still eaten as household favourite’s.
Food has been used to control and manipulate people for centuries. One of the best ways to win a war is to cut off the food supply of who you oppose. We have seen this in our most recent world wars, the cold war, and wars happening today. People with positions of power will limit the amount of food they give to people to keep them on their knees and obedient. It is pretty terrible to think about how something that is so crucial and that can be so tasty, and fun can also be so evil, but when you see the power food has you truly start to understand the importance and effect it has had on our world.
Even before the agriculture revolution started our hunter and gather ancestors would travel across great distances in search of something more to fill their bellies. Along these travels our primitive ancestors would come across already settled bands of humans and would either join them abiding by their customs and ways of life or fight them for their resources. When thinking about our friend who gets “hangry” you could only imagine what it would be like for a band of early settlers after weeks or months of hunger and extensive travel when they came across another group of animals that looked the same as them but did everything else different. These early interactions with similar human bands caused complete genocide and shaped the further future to what we know today.
What Are We Seeing Today: Today's world and its relationship with food is one with lots of controversies, to say the least. With an expanding world and so much western American influence, we are seeing countries that once looked at food as a very intimate and amazing experience now looking at the thing that built so many of the places we live as something to fear. The western world has changed the food game immensely from making everything easier and more accessible. They have it all, from pre-packaged to pre-made, to having peaches with shelf life older than your grandma. There is no question that this is beneficial when it comes to storing our foods but with more people being curious and researching the effects of what this pre-packaged lifestyle has on us we are not seeing the results we had hoped for. With unhappy people who want only the best for their bodies, the age of diet options was born. The fact that we can choose what our diet is amazing considering that our diets used to be whatever was available. It sure has come along way thanks to food. The western world also has a large diversity of cultures which brings a large option of foods to the plate and with all those different dishes and the liberty that America was built on we saw the rise of the restaurants allowing people from all different backgrounds to walk out their door and try something they have never had from a place they have never heard of. Ah, food connecting us all since the start of man.
STAY WILD AND STAY HUNGRY