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Received Dec 4; Accepted Jun This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Food taboos are known from virtually all human societies.
Most religions declare certain food items fit and others unfit for human consumption. Dietary rules and regulations may govern particular phases of the human life cycle and may be associated with special events such as menstrual period, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and — in traditional societies — preparation for the hunt, battle, wedding, funeral, etc.
On a comparative basis many food taboos seem to make no sense at all, as to what may be declared unfit by one group may be perfectly acceptable to another. On the other hand, food taboos have a long history and one ought to expect a sound explanation for the existence and persistence of certain dietary customs in a given culture.
Yet, this is a highly debated view and no single theory may explain why people employ special food taboos. This paper wants to revive interest in food taboo research and attempts a functionalist's explanation.
However, to illustrate some of the complexity of possible reasons for food taboo five examples have been chosen, namely traditional food taboos in orthodox Jewish and Hindu societies as well as reports on aspects of dietary restrictions in communities with traditional lifestyles of Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Nigeria.
An ecological or medical background is apparent for many, including some that are seen as religious or spiritual in origin. On the one hand food taboos can help utilizing a resource more efficiently; on the other food taboos can lead to the protection of a resource.
Food taboos, whether scientifically correct or not, are often meant to protect the human individual and the observation, for example, that certain allergies and depression are associated with each other could have led to declaring food items taboo that were identified as causal agents for the allergies.
Moreover, any food taboo, acknowledged by a particular group of people as part of its ways, aids in the cohesion of this group, helps that particular group maintain its identity in the face of others, and therefore creates a feeling of "belonging".
Background Years ago a student asked me the following question: Afterall, to grow and survive, animals all need the same basic things: Why are there herbivores, carnivores, detritovores, insectivores, fungivores, coprophages, xylophages and many more?
Although it is true that all heterotrophic organisms need the same fundamental food stuffs, it is easy to understand that on account of their different sizes, different anatomies, and different habitats, different species must make use of different food sources to satisfy their needs.
A cat would happily devour the meat of an antelope and a lion would not reject a mouse, but both are not built for these kinds of food items.
A tree-dwelling leaf-eater does not graze on the ground and a grazer does not climb trees.
Pond snails may love lettuce, but they can never leave their watery realm. Moreover, it is a "Law of Nature" that, where there is an underexploited resource, it usually does not take long before such a resource is 'discovered' and used by some organism. Yet, intense competition for one and the same kind of food by two species ultimately would lead to the extinction of one of them or it would result in the two species occupying different niches, either in connection with the food itself or the timing of feeding [ 12 ].
It is, thus, easy to understand why different species of animals with different anatomies and habitat preferences should use different food items, but food specialists within a species also occur and it is then less obvious why individuals of one and the same species should exploit different resources.
It becomes really tricky, when some adults of the same gender, species, and overall physical built nevertheless vary in relation to their food preferences. Yet, no ecologist or zoologist would use the term "food taboo" to describe intraspecific food preferences of this kind in animals, but in connection with humans we do use the term "food taboo".
We use it or refer to "prohibitions" to distinguish the deliberate avoidance of a food item for reasons other than simple dislike from food preferences. In non-human mammals, dominant individuals may force weaker ones to accept less sought-after food items, and a possible liking for these originally reluctantly accepted food items may in turn develop [ 23 ].
Some aspect of this scenario may also apply to human societies, because food taboos can be imposed on individuals by outsiders, or by members of the kinship group to manifest themselves through instruction and example during upbringing [ 4 ].
Probably food taboos as unwritten social rules exist in one form or another in every society on Earth, for it is a fact that perhaps nowhere in the world, a people, a tribe, or an ethnic group, makes use of the full potential of edible items in its surroundings [ 5 - 10 ].
One of many examples, although an especially well-studied one, involves the Ache people, i. According to Hill and Hurtado [ 6 ], the tropical forests of the Ache habitat abound with several hundreds of edible mammalian, avian, reptilian, amphibian and piscine species, yet the Ache exploit only 50 of them.
Turning to the plants, fruits, and insects the situation is no different, because only 40 of them are exploited. Ninety eight percent of the calories in the diet of the Ache are supplied by only seventeen different food sources.
Although mere avoidance of potential food for whatever reason does not in itself signify a food taboo, it is easy to see how regular avoidance can turn into a tradition and eventually end up as a food taboo [ 7810 ].Online Papers: Online School Vs Traditional School Essay best solutions for you!
The % confidence interval for the shifting of sensibilities into other areas, like a wave function is linear inand z, so we can calculate the average email account in new york times, ment of innovation on the latter. Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, Glossary of Key Terms Related to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions, WIPO/GRTKF/IC/20/INF/7, Annex, page, (January 10, ).
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