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Religion and Culture play an important role in influencing consumer behaviour in relation to food intake

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Introduction

Angela Clucas - HND Food Trends Assignment Religion and Culture play an important role in influencing consumer behaviour in relation to food intake "Human beings are not born with a set of behaviour, they have to learn it. What they learn is dictated by the culture into which they are born or within which they grow up" - J Bareham (1995) Culture makes us similar to some people but different to the vast majority. It is learnt as a person grows up within society and can be either taught or imitated. Formal instruction comes from parents but a person also learns by imitating peers and persons in the media. Culture compromises of many aspects such as Language, Politics, everyday food habits and Religion with considerable variation across the world, for example in China, which is predominantly Buddhist, it is acceptable to eat Dog but not Beef, as Cows are considered sacred. "People in Western society find it difficult to understand that the Chinese eat dogs, because dogs remind them of people and as such are treated as pets and objects of affection." - J Bareham (1995) Religion is a large and intertwined part of culture and often with religions such as Judaism, the defining feature of a culture. Religious dietary practise can serve a number of purposes including contact with supernatural forces, sacrifices to the Gods to demonstrate faith and fasting to show rejection of worldliness. ...read more.

Middle

There are also some neutral foods such as White fish and rice. The key to the Chinese diet is to obtain a balance between the Yin and Yang forces. The Muslim religion also has a system of classing foods, yet the classifications are lawful foods - Halal, and unlawful foods - Haram. The guidance for food laws come from the Qur'an and eating is considered a form of worship. "Lawful to you is the game of the sea and its food, a provision for you and the travellers, and the game of the land is forbidden to you so long as you are on pilgrimage, and be careful of your duty to Allah, to whom you shall be gathered." - Qur'an This quote from the Qur'an explains that while a Muslim is on a pilgrimage he may not consume and meat from land animals as it can not be slaughtered in the correct manner and is not therefore part of the true offerings to Allah. There are many festivals in the Islamic calendar but perhaps the most well known is Ramadan where fasting must take place between the hours of sunrise and sunset. During this time special foods are purchased and it is customary to invite neighbours and friends to break the fast. Followers of Judaism are also required to fast on the Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. ...read more.

Conclusion

This can be seen in areas of the UK such as Rusholme in Manchester where the majority of the community are Muslim and a micro-culture has formed. Culture encompasses the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour of a particular group of people; these are learnt from birth but can go on changing throughout a person's lifetime. Some values are common to all societies and some are particular to a specific set. A common cultural value in western society which dominates what we purchase is 'Healthiness'. Foods which are healthy or perceive to be healthy are held in high regard and are sought after. This is encouraged by the Government with advertising campaigns such as '5-a-day' reminding people to get their 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. It must be remembered that the concept of healthiness, and which foods are currently considered 'healthy' can vary. Any cultural norm can be changed as society reinforces the value of one concept and denounces another. An example of this is carbohydrate consumption. Until recently carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and bread were thought of as 'healthy' by consumers and promoted by the government as low fat and therefore good for you but with recent new research and 'fashionable' diets such as Atkins consumer opinion is now changing and these foods are no longer seen as health promoting but instead as products that will prevent weight loss. This is just one example of how consumer opinion can and does change in relation of food intake. ...read more.

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