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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

Food Science

Most foods at the supermarket carry on their labels "nutritional facts." We use it to guide how we eat.

But what do those numbers have to do with what we put in our stomachs? We don't really know the rules regarding metabolism or understand the implications of the funding of studies on nutritional facts.

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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

https://www.thoughtco.com/philosophy-of-food-2670489

thoughtco.com

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Key Ideas

Philosophy of food

Philosophy of food is found on the idea that food is a mirror.

Eating reflects the making of a self - the many decisions and circumstances that lead us to eat the way we do. Philosophy of food mirrors on the ethical, political, social, artistic, identity-defining aspects of food. It makes us think and reflect on our diets and eating habits.

Food as a Relation

Food is a relation to organism and circumstance.

  • Food is bound to vary from moment to moment. Coffee and pasty are a fine breakfast or afternoon snack. Yet, most of us won't enjoy it for dinner.
  • Circumstances are bound to involve contradictory principles. You may buy only organic food, but on vacation, you crave burgers and fries.

Therefore, any given food relation is the mirror of an eater, and it represents the eater's needs, habits, convictions, deliberations, and compromises.

Food Ethics

Ethical convictions can shape our diets.* Would you eat a cat or a horse? Why or why not?* Your reasons are likely rooted in ethical principles, such as feeling outraged that someone can do such a thing.

Vegetarians conform to a particular diet to prevent unjustified violence being done to animals.

Food as Art

Food as art has spurred heated debates. Some argue that food is a minor art at best for three reasons:

  • Foods are short-lived in comparison to, for instance, long-lasting art carved out of marble.
  • Food is intrinsically linked to a practical purpose - nourishment.
  • Food depends on its material constitution that is different from music, painting, or sculpture.

At best, cooks can be very good artisans and can be paired with fancy hairdressers or skilled gardeners.

Food Experts

Americans highly esteem the role of food experts while the French and Italians do not. It's possibly because of different ways to regard the evaluation of a food.

Is there a truth when it comes to judgments about food? On the one hand, my tasting experience is different from yours and completely subjective. On the other, an expert can challenge a reviewer's opinions about a wine or a restaurant.

Food Science

Most foods at the supermarket carry on their labels "nutritional facts." We use it to guide how we eat.

But what do those numbers have to do with what we put in our stomachs? We don't really know the rules regarding metabolism or understand the implications of the funding of studies on nutritional facts.

Food Politics

Some concerns for political philosophy include:

  • The challenges that food consumption poses to the environment. For example, factory farming produces more pollution than airfare travel.
  • Food trades, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, raise issues of fairness and equity in the global market.
  • Food production, distribution, and retail is an opportunity to talk about the condition of workers across the globe.

Food and Self-Understanding

A refusal to consider eating habits in a meaningful manner is similar to a lack of self-understanding or authenticity.

Since self-understanding and authenticity are some of the chief aims of philosophical inquiry, food is a key to philosophical insight. The philosophy of food is then the pursuit of an authentic diet.

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Why foods go bad

Most foods spoil because of the growth of microbes. Preserving food is an attempt to limit microbial growth. Food can be preserved by drying, salting, chilling, or storing in air-tight containers.

  • Drying is the most effective because microbial growth is inhibited.
  • Salting is effective because it removes moisture, creating an environment where microbes cannot survive.
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Preservatives are used in foods to extend their shelf lives. One of McDonald's Big Mac in Iceland is an example of a long-lasting processed food. It has been on display since 2009, in a glass box. Preservatives that has been discontinued by McDonald's are:

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One of the reasons why Stoicism is enjoying a revival today is that it gives concrete answers to moral questions.
Aristotle gave us an alternative conception of happiness

It cannot be acquired by pleasurable experiences but only by identifying and realizing our own potential, moral and creative, in our specific environments, with our particular family, friends and colleagues, and helping others to do so. 

Best foods don’t have labels
Best foods don’t have labels

Because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or without dairy; with or without eggs; with or without some meat; high or low in total fat.

The "Age" of vegetables
The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good (as freezing delays aging). Those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.

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