What is food and what is non-food is a cultural decision. All available nutrients are not classified as food in any culture. Factors of production and distribution of food and impact of globalized economy on traditional societies shall be discussed in this panel.
All animals require adequate nutrition to survive. Their consumption is guided by instinct. In the case of human beings intake of nutrients is guided by the cultural factors. Each culture has its own way of defining what food is and what is non-food, what is nutrient and what is non-nutrient. Traditional societies were able to maintain a balance in their ecology and economy until recently. Almost every members of the society had access t o food. Starvation was unheard of in traditional societies. However, globalization of economy had deleterious impact on the supply of food in all societies. It has affected landholding pattern, agricultural practices, sharing of food etc. buying and selling of food items is guided by the market forces. In the market economy food is a mere commodity on the other hand; in traditional societies food has many symbolic functions. It is a medium of communication in inter-personal relations. It is a commodity which finds people in the society.
In the globalized economy, food crops are replaced by commercial non-food crops, agricultural land is converted to industrial land etc. hence, and the following issues may be addressed while conducting research on nutritional anthropology in traditional societies.
a. Status of production of food crops.
b. Availability of land for food production.
c. Organizational problems of food production.
d. Inequitable distribution of food items.
e. Nutritional deficiency in diet
f. Impact of the market forces on traditional methods of food production.
g. Symbolic uses of food.