Teaching kids about local foods helps develop a family food culture
Food, society, and culture are all linked by eating together as groups. Eating together promotes solidarity and friendships.
Most cultures are readily identified by their foods. Paneer, spaghetti, tortillas and tapas represent four easily recognizable cultures in the “melting pot” of America; they are foods of India, Italy, Mexico, and Spain in case you were wondering.
According to Beth Neff, organic farmer and writer for the Edible Michiana magazine, engaging your family in local foods helps build a family local food culture at home. Focusing home activities around choosing menus, deciding where to shop for local foods and preparing meals as a family generates unique family culture. At the same time, it promotes a good attitude toward eating and food choices.
One student, Amanda, writes as a part of an online education culture project for the public broadcasting Thirteen program, “I think food is important to culture because in most cultures, food is a tradition passed down from generation to generation.”
Food and eating bond us together socially, builds relationships, and creates culture. “There is no culture that promotes solitary eating,” writes nutrition education specialist Joanne P. Ikeda states in her essay, “Culture, Food, and Nutrition in Increasingly Culturally Diverse Societies,” which appears in the book, A Sociology of Food and Nutrition. The “great melting pot” of America did not dissolve the cultural and social importance of family meals. Selecting local foods builds local culture and supports a sustainable community as a whole.
Michigan State University Extension has educators working across Michigan who provide community food systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact an educator by conducting a search with MSU Extension’s “Find an Expert” search tool and using the keywords “community food systems.”
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