Food and Culture paper assignment

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Food log assignment

Due Dec. 19, 2019

I am asking everyone to keep a food [this includes drinks] log for three consecutive days. I want you to keep a record of the five W’s: what you eat, when you eat, where you eat, with whom you eat, and why you eat. For the last ‘W’, WHY, it is not enough to say that you ate or drank something because you were hungry. One of the things that distinguishes humans from animals is that eating is complex. It is always about more than hunger even when we are hungry. People almost never eat just anything, even when they are hungry. Starving is another matter, but even then, there are some things that people never consider eating, even when it is physiologically possible for us to digest.

You want to be as organized and as clear as possible in recording your data. Record the data in a chart – with columns for each of the W’s. You want to provide details that will allow you and me to make an assessment of your log. This means be descriptive. For example, don’t just say ‘hamburger’ but give some details about the type of hamburger – a mayonnaise burger from Sonic [$2.40]. And try to be as socially descriptive about the people you eat with.

Anything and everything that you ingest (so food and drink) should be part of your log.

After you have completed your log, you then want to assess it – as a sociologist would. This is the second part of the assignment.

John Macionis says, to think like a sociologist, you need to be willing to look for general social patterns in the behavior of particular individuals; to look at the individual always in a social context [and all individuals are always influenced by social forces]; and to look at the strange in the familiar. You want to answer the following questions:

  1. What patterns do you notice about how, what, when, where, with whom and why you actually eat and drink?
  1. What is driving you socially to eat and drink the way that you do? What is going on socially to promote such behavior?
  • Consider the seven social categories mentioned in the Week 1 folder, or other social factors such as your status as a college student, family background, and the media. How do they influence your meal habits?For example:
    • Why do you think you chose a particular food? Maybe it’s a comfort food that reminds you of childhood, maybe it’s what you can afford, maybe you’ve been seeing advertisements and want to try it, maybe you want to conform to your eating companion(s) choices, etc.
    • What factors influence whether you eat alone or with others or who you choose to eat with?
    • Does your cultural or regional background have an influence?

You don’t have to write about all seven categories. The above are suggestions to help you with your analysis. You may include other factors not listed above as well.

  1. How does your eating pattern during these three days conform to or differ from mainstream American norms?

4.What did you find that you did not expect?

Both your log and the paper should be typed. Your log should be one or two pages long. Your assessment essay should be three full pages.

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