How Can Life Experiences Shape Food Preferences?

by | Sep 13, 2022 | Issue 155, Issues | 0 comments

The food we eat is one of the most important things that affect our health and quality of life, which is why it is essential to explore what drives our...

The food we eat is one of the most important things that affect our health and quality of life, which is why it is essential to explore what drives our food choices and why we make the choices we do. 

Many factors influence our tastes and preferences. Culture, religion, what we were taught when we were younger and even the country where you live can impact your food preferences.  


Genetic Influence on Food Preferences

It is important to keep in mind that many factors influence what kind of food we like, and some are more important than others. People tend to have food preferences based on their biology (e.g., inborn feelings and tastes) because they can’t control these factors. For example, kids grow up with an innate idea about their food preferences, which often comes from their parents’ tastes.

There are also evolutionary reasons that influence our food preferences. If your ancestors ate a particular type of food, your body might have developed specific tastes that make you want to eat that same food. For example, if your ancestors were hunter-gatherers, you’re probably on team meat. On the other hand, if your ancestors were primarily farmers, you might prefer grains and vegetables.


Economic Factors

Economic factors can affect your food preferences. Often, food choices depend on food affordability and availability in your living area. Income fluctuations can also change your preferences. 

In the consumption process, people pay attention not only to the available food type and its taste but also to prices. Thus, economic factors influence consumer preferences. For example, when an individual’s increased earnings allow for a better quality of living, such as healthier restaurant choices or more expensive products, they tend to be more careful in choosing food items. Preference for organically grown produce is a good example of the effect of economic factors on consumer preferences. 


Cultural and Religious Experiences

Cultural and religious beliefs influence food consumption and preferences as well. For example, followers of Judaism eat kosher food. Followers of Islam only consume halal foods to be able to obey their faith, which restricts them from eating food such as pork.

People who are vegan or vegetarian do not consume any animal products such as meat or dairy products. Vegans also avoid eating food produced by animals, such as honey.

Many cultures have their own set of food preferences. For example, in most Southeast Asian countries, every meal is prepared with rice. In other countries, especially in Europe, people prefer to eat their meals with bread. 

Food preferences can also be influenced by advertising, which often promotes certain foods while discouraging others. This diet culture is especially prominent in North America, where many people are targeted with advertisements for highly-processed and sugary foods.

Places with a strong influence from a long-established culture still prefer traditional food over the more popular processed foods. Some cultures have a high-fat diet, such as the Inuit in North America and the Maasai in Africa. Other cultures have a very low-fat diet, such as that of the Okinawans, who consume a lot of vegetables and root crops. 


A Parting Reminder

Several factors can affect our food preferences, including life experiences. Some tastes may be acquired through exposure to certain foods, while others respond to certain dishes’ positive or negative experiences. Our environment and culture can also play a role in shaping our tastes. Ultimately, it is important to be open to new flavors and experiment with different foods to develop a well-rounded palate.

Peter C

Peter C