Culture and Food

Mitsuru Onda

      In our history, human beings have created various things. Some of them are materialistic, and the others are spiritual. Something materialistic is called civilization, while something spiritual is called culture such as art, music, literature, religion and so on.

 Let me think about an origin of the word “culture” that came from “cultivate”. “Cultivate” has become “culture”. If we ponder the word “agriculture”, it will explain the idea. The word agriculture includes culture in it, and the act of agriculture, of course, includes the act of cultivating.

 Human beings are different from other animals that cannot do something against nature. The first voluntary action conducted by human beings against nature was to cultivate land in order to get food. Only human beings were able to cultivate land. If the action of cultivating was the origin of culture, we can say culture is some actions which are conducted by only human beings and not by other animals. In other words, culture is an accumulation of what human beings have done in the history. I would like to emphasize that it is our mind that culture can cultivate. Culture are able to cultivate our mind. To live better life, being cultured is surely necessary.

 Our own culture seems very natural to us. We tend to feel in our hearts that the way we act is the only right way. But there are many other cultures in the world of course. People have created their own history and the way of thinking in each region for centuries. Cultures are different from a region to a region, from a country to a country. Each culture has big influence on every thing in that culture, such as customs, way of thinking, behavior patterns, and so on. Cultures can create a lot of differences.

 When we see other country’s culture, it often seems strange or even shocking. Eating customs are good example of this. Eating custom in one culture sometimes look disgusting for people from different cultures or religions.

The whale is considered as food for Japanese people historically, but not for the western people. The deer and the rabbit are food for some western people, but not for Japanese people. Some kinds of the dogs are food for Korean and Chinese people, but not for the western people. Beef is food for westernized people, but not for Hindu in India because of their religious belief, as well as pork is prohibited to eat by Islamic law.

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Copyright 2002 Mituru Onda. All rights reserved