Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture by Marvin Harris

By Marvin Harris

Why are human nutrients behavior so assorted? Why do american citizens cringe on the considered puppy meat? Jews and Moslems, beef? Hindus, red meat? Why do Asians abhor milk?

In reliable to consume, bestselling writer Marvin Harris leads readers on an informative detective event to resolve the world's significant meals puzzles. He explains the variety of the world's gastronomic customs, demonstrating that what seem first and foremost look to be irrational nutrition tastes prove fairly to were formed by means of functional, or monetary, or political necessity. additionally, his clever and lively therapy sheds knowledge on such subject matters as why there was an explosion in quickly nutrients, why heritage shows that it's "bad" to consume humans yet "good" to kill them, and why teenagers universally reject spinach. reliable to consume is greater than an highbrow experience in foodstuff for inspiration. it's a hugely readable, scientifically actual, and engaging paintings that demystifies the explanations of myriad human cultural adjustments.

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Extra resources for Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture

Sample text

Why is Hin­ duism different? Both politics and religion obviously play a role in reinforcing and perpetuating the beef and slaughter taboos, but neither pol­ itics nor religion explains why cattle slaughter and beef eating have achieved symbolic prominence . Why the cow and not the pig, horse, or camel? I do not doubt the symbolic power of the sacred cow . What I doubt is that the investment of symbolic power in one particular kind of animal and one particular kind of meat results from an arbitrary and capricious mental choice rather than from a definite set of practical constraints .

The majority of Indian farms are very small, and the use of tractors can only be rationalized if elaborate provisions are made to lease or rent the machines. But similar provisions also easily lower the cost of using animal traction . Despite a significant increase in the number of tractors in Intiia since 1968, there has been no re­ duction in the number of draft animals, even in the regions where tractors have become most common . The explanation for that is that repair services and spare parts remain too precarious to risk operations without standby animal power.

There is too much variation in the ratios of plants to animals in the foodways of different cultures to support the idea that we instinctively rec­ ognize animal foods as something we must eat. A more plausible explanation is that our species-given physiology and digestive processes predispose us to learn to prefer animal foods. We and our primate cousins pay special attention to foods of animal origin because such foods have special characteristics which make them exceptionally nutritious. What's so nutritious about them?

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