Do you judge people by what they're eating?

Vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce

In their article, Why do we judge people by the food they eat?The Guardian provided some interesting material to think about. In particular, the idea of food profiling struck a chord. Back in the day (way back in the day) if someone ate muesli, they were immediately identified as a counter-revolutionary hippie - ditto for brown rice, soy beans, and kale. But given the widespread popularity of all of these foods now (substitute granola for muesli) it is illuminating that cultural context for foods can change rapidly. And indicative of why this kind of profiling is rather absurd.

And there is another kind of food profiling that is also absurd - when it is used to supposedly reveal truths about personalities, rather than just a cultural context. What can you tell about a person who insists on cutting meat off a chicken bone rather than picking it up and chomping on it? The immediate reaction is that the person is awfully fastidious - but maybe that's just the way it was done in their childhood home? Or what about the person who always orders vanilla ice cream - does that mean they're a fuddy duddy and not exciting or experimental? Speaking as someone who is married to just such a vanilla fanatic, I'm pretty confident I can say no.

So as we approach a holiday season that is very often centered around food - prepared and eaten in a cultural, traditional, and social context - it might be a good idea to remember to keep an eye out for an understandable, but not advisable, tendency that most of us share of delivering judgements based on what or how someone eats.

Photo of Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Fudge Sauce from Martha Stewart, recipe available here. 

6 Comments

  • ellabee  on  11/12/2013 at 2:11 PM

    :: counter-revolutionary hippie :: Think you mean "counter-cultural" here. Unless you hung out with sectarian Marxist party members... but assume you're going for more mainstream stereotype.

  • FuzzyChef  on  11/13/2013 at 1:11 AM

    Ellabee: well if one eats Muesli, then one is Swiss, which means that you deny the revolutionary message of Lenin. Seems straightforwards to me. ;-) In any case, I find nothing peculiar about this; for 8000 years (probably more) human cultures have defined themselves by what they did and didn't eat, and defined their neighbors likewise. If anything, today we live in a veritable anarchica paradise of consumer self-expression compared to even our great-grandparents, who wouldn't speak to the family from down the road because they ate meat on Fridays.

  • sir_ken_g  on  11/13/2013 at 4:46 PM

    I'm, surrounded with meat and potato people and some of the unhealthiest people in the country. There are very few local restaurants where I will go willingly. I'm sure that our home menu which tends to Asian , Southern European and Middle Eastern freaks them out,

  • boardingace  on  11/22/2013 at 12:13 AM

    I hate to admit this, but I probably do a bit. In defense of making judgments, it's human and probably unavoidable :) I don't associate muesli with being a hippie, but I do sometimes notice what people eat, how fast they eat, how much they eat, and how it relates to either how amazing the food tastes (or not) or the person's health.

  • boardingace  on  11/22/2013 at 12:13 AM

    I hate to admit this, but I probably do a bit. In defense of making judgments, it's human and probably unavoidable :) I don't associate muesli with being a hippie, but I do sometimes notice what people eat, how fast they eat, how much they eat, and how it relates to either how amazing the food tastes (or not) or the person's health.

  • pwsnook  on  12/17/2013 at 9:04 AM

    Yes, I unabashedly judge people who won't try new tastes, don't season their food, think Olive Garden is really an Italian restaurant, order their meat well done, travel through Europe eating only at McDonalds, eat only vegetables that have been thawed, and won't eat fried chicken if it didn't come in a bucket.

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