In my household, food was never a focal part of the family structure that involved a collaborative dining session much like those often illustrated from typical 1950’s-variety family structures. Therefore, the quality and dimensions, especially those delivered psychologically, were never strongly reinforced through the process of cooking together and ultimately consuming together. The food selections in my household during my youth were rather generic, consisting of basic varieties of beef, chicken, and common household snacks. Because of this, eating often became a routine activity simply to satisfy hunger. Consumption was more of a ritualistic situation rather than the satisfaction of a psychological need that some people experience in the process of dining and preparing together as a family unit.
It is because of this limited symbolism associated with food that I have developed my current dietary habits and this directly impacts how I have, in the past, viewed food as a lifestyle and cultural significance. However, this course has changed my view on eating, especially when considering the different cultural symbolism that food represents for many in and out of the United States. I have recently begun to realize that I have missed out on many of the important sociological dimensions that food and consumption can provide, along with the camaraderie that is often developed by discussing the importance of food.
Rituals are often symbolic activities that reveal cultural values associated with a specific community of people and often produce social predictability as well as the creation of individual social identity (Leeds-Hurwitz, 61). I find myself disappointed, especially after learning about the different elements of food as having much cultural consequence, that I had not previously considered the social value that food can bring to enhancing lifestyle. Being part of the middle class social structure, the quality of high-dollar foods has usually been limited to visualization, through television cooking shows and other gourmet chef programs. Because of this, depth in terms of taste and experimentation has never been given much personal thought. Much, I believe now, is missing from daily lifestyle by not exploring the different dimensions of food. This can be attributed, with a minor sense of blame, to the family structure and their limited emotional diversity associated with consumption and food variety. Gender and race as associated with a non-diverse worldview on food are not generally applicable to my own values associated with food since it has only been recently that I have begun to reassess the quality and cultural togetherness that food consumption and discussion can bring in a social or family setting. Some companies trying to sell their food products attempt to get consumers interesting in powdered sauces and cake mixtures by introducing a degree of nostalgia into advertising. Slogans such as just like mom used to make are often used to gain more interest and bring forth a psychological response from buyers (Bugge, 22). Though these advertising efforts have never had any meaning for me in previous years, I now recognize that many people are attracted to the process of enjoying home cooking in a friendly and unified family atmosphere. I find a certain sense of remorse after considering the value of the home-cooked quality meal that people seem to prefer and wish that it had been a broader part of my childhood. Because of this new type of thinking associated with food, I find myself wanting to explore an entirely new dimension in relation to food, socialization with consumption, and also the preparation process. I have always measured my personal identity based on goal-attainment and