Food Obsession or Eating Disorder

Written by: Rebecca Baird, May 9, 2010

People in the United States, and all over the world, have created an “eating disorder” which is being portrayed, by television shows on the Food Network, as entertainment (Knoblauch, 2008). Cultures, all over the world, have placed so much importance on food that it is no longer the way to stay healthy, fuel our bodies, and live, it has become a status symbol.

During the early days of airline travel food was served to the passengers, who were sitting at large round tables, on nice plates with real knives, forks, and spoons. This type of travel was reserved for wealthy and socially elite individuals. Today, airline travel has changed dramatically to offer air flight to everyone, regardless of their monetary status (Knoblauch, 2008).

There has been an obsession with food and status since early in the world’s history. This was obvious in Biblical times when the Israelites freed from Egyptian captors, by Moses, in order to free them from slavery and oppression. As they wandered through the wilderness, in an attempt to get to the Promised Land (the land of milk and honey; more food), they complained because they no longer had access to the garlic and leeks of Egypt; Manna from heaven, provided by God to fuel their bodies and stay healthy, was just not good enough for their sophisticated pallets.

If we fast forward to the early days of the United States, we see that Columbus brought with him the culinary status of the European culture. Native Americans consumed foods which would keep them alive, healthy, and fuel their bodies. The early colonists were appalled by the primitive foods which were available to them. According to Katherine Reagan, curator at the Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, by “the end of the 19th century, America’s expanding economy and growing upper class fueled desires for elegance and self-indulgence with respect to food” (Reagan, 2002).

It is no surprise that food in the United States has taken center stage as a status symbol and has brought with it some of the most sophisticated entertainment available on television. History has shown us that the culture of food has always carried with it a perceived status reserved for the wealthy.


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