Essay: Food Practice

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[. . .] The mushrooms were from China. The tofu was made in the United States, presumably with American soybeans. Also in the dish there were Sichuan peppercorns from China, American-grown ginger, garlic, spring onions, one American tomato, soy sauce, black bean paste and a few other spices, most of these ingredients coming from either China, Taiwan or in the case of the soy sauce from California. I had some white rice on the side that came from the United States. I drank some rice milk with this meal, then some water for the rest of the night.

It is clear from looking at my ingredient list that almost nothing I used was from my own state, and surprisingly little was even from the United States. American items were maybe half of what I ate on the day. While some of the other ingredients were used in very small quantities, like the spices or tea, it was surprising that something like garlic was not American. I was happy to see that with a vegan lifestyle I could at least rely on American beans, rice and soy products.

Part Three: Food Analysis

Belasco (p.8) makes the point that what we eat weighs three key factors. Identity clearly played a role in what I ate during this experiment. As a vegan, I was forced to substitute animal products out of my daily diet. This represented some challenges, and perhaps caused me to seek out ingredients from further away as well. I saw that my heritage guided what I ate, as I turned to making a vegan version of one of my favorite dishes in order to get by. I am not sure what my approach would be as a full-time vegan, as I chose a dish that I thought I could easily make a substitution. There are not always good substitutions available. Thus, convenience also played a role, as I used ingredients from the two stores I most shop at, and I also made foods with which I am already familiar. I wanted to keep it simple, so as to not shock my system with all new foods just for trying to be vegan. Responsibility did not play a direct role in my choices, although I certainly thought about how far my food was traveling. It disturbed me a little bit, and ultimately I might make different decisions over the long run. In the short run, however, I think responsibility was definitely subordinated to the other two elements in decision-making.

I did not indulge, but I did miss the pork in the mapo dofu, and I wonder if I would be able to maintain a vegan diet. I think that Wilson is correct, in that in order to enforce a vegan diet I would have been advised to eat more with vegans. I found that vegan websites were supportive of my needs. But among my Chinese friends, I would have a nearly impossible time eating vegan, as we tend to order communally for the table and they are not vegan. Counihana's observations therefore ring true for me. Our culture is a strong control mechanism for what we eat and how we eat it. I made sure to separate myself on this day to eat my vegan diet, but I would not always do that. I would have a tougher time enforcing this diet, or any other specific diet, over a long period of time because it could have social consequences. My friends and I like to say we eat everything with four legs except the table and chairs, so I would basically have to stop eating with my friends to remain a vegan. That would take incredible restraint, more than I have. This helps me to have a better view of food, however, because it just goes to show how much of an influence our surroundings, upbringing, culture and habits contribute to our daily diets. Even when forced to break out of that for a day, I leaned on habit -- favorite foods and easy substitutions -- in order to get by. I do not know that I would change my diet based on this experience, but I do think about food differently, especially with respect to how far all my food travels to get to my table. [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Food Practice.  (2012, July 1).  Retrieved November 17, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Food Practice."  1 July 2012.  Web.  17 November 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Food Practice."  July 1, 2012.  Accessed November 17, 2019.