Essay Example on the Role of Food

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606 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Food has been the core fabric of changes both traditionally and in modernity.  We could refer to food as uniting factor between all the traditions and as they are being passed on to younger generations so is food. From farming food, its preparation, and consumption. In the world, cultures would be incomplete without the mention of food. Culinary tools and items have been restructured to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Among the most notable ones are refrigeration, canning, baking, pasteurization and sterilization, fermentation, milling, irrigation, use of the plow, selective breeding and the list goes on.

According to Neuburger, (2003) use of refrigeration dates to as far as 1000 BC in China where they would gather ice and use it for food preservation. In later days machine-based refrigeration was developed starting in the mid-18th century and moving into the 19th century with domestic mechanical refrigerators being available in the 1900s. An example of the modern refrigerator is the condenser refrigerator that works by drawing heat away from the item to be cooled. However, the refrigerator has been unable to preserve food for more than a couple of days not unless it involves food that has undergone another food preservation process.Canning was developed in the 19th century where foods would be preserved in airtight containers mainly as means of preserving food for armies. They would preserve food in jars. Canned food can stay on shelves for up to five years (Robertson 2016). Baking which is the prolonged use of heat dry heat typically in confined chambers such as ovens. It is thought to have begun in the ancient Greece at around 600 BC and is still widely practiced in the modern world today. Various improvements and innovations have emerged with the development of different types of commercial and domestic ovens that are currently in use.

In food production, irrigation came in handy with a bid to increase production and ensure productivity all year round especially in times and areas of inadequate rainfall or disturbed soil. Irrigation in Ancient Egypt used basin irrigation where flooding of the Nile would inundate land plots that had been surrounded by dikes. Modernized irrigation by the development of machinery enabled efficient irrigation of vast tracts of land with minimal labor and increased productivity. The practice of selective breeding to enhance production in both plants and animals has been there since ancient times where people would artificially manipulate breeds to rid undesired traits or maximize on the desired features. It was established as a scientific practice during the British Agricultural Revolution in the 18th century. In food, production land has to be plowed to prepare for its cultivation. Traditionally man would plow land by use of working animals such as horses and oxen. Nowadays engineering machineries such a tractors and combine harvesters are used for farming. Modern machinery can efficiently cover vast areas and dig dipper into the soil an improvement of the traditional plow to enhance productivity.

Food plays a pivotal role in the traditional and modern world and remains relevant in the historical transitions from one tradition to the other. Anthropologists and other scholars of food have often pointed out how food is central to cosmologies, worldviews, and ways of life Sutton, (2010). Food and its production have played a vital role in enhancing and changing ways of doing things in the food and agricultural industries. We should expect advancements in days to come.



Neuburger, A. (2003). The technical arts and sciences of the ancients. London: Kegan Paul. p. 122

Robertson, G. L. (2016). Food packaging: principles and practice. CRC press.

Sutton, D. E. (2010). Food and the Senses. Annual Review of Anthropology, 39, 209-223.


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