Literature Review Assignment
The overall research question in the article relates to how the society uses some food objects as “comfort foods.” In this case, culture of food consumption in society considers emotional, physiological, psychological, and physical attachments the consumer goes for during various occasions. In order to come up with a clear relationship between these variables, a study based on 264 undergraduates students at a southern university in America, was conducted. The research was out to seek questions why some people have emotional and psychological attachments on some food objects. After the study, it was found out that some especially female students preferred some food because of some characteristics, like scent, felt during the preparation period. Others, mostly male, had a taste for some food like chocolate chips because of the emotions associated with the food; it sends a signal of love and togetherness, when the food was consumed with their mother or lovers. In the same study, others preferred carbohydrates because of sugar and starch present in the meal; it soothes the body and soul.
Scientifically, on page 289, the sugar in the food has an influence on the brain; it makes the brain relax (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 289). Although some foods have a symbolic meaning to the consumer, the society has structured everyone to derive his own definition of “comfort food.” A group of people in America consumed much carbohydrate after the September 11th incidence in order to have their minds relaxed, and gain self-control over the happenings, (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 292). Essentially, the article seeks to explain why everyone developed a liking towards certain food objects. The main thesis according to the article is the role played by emotions towards the selection of certain food objects. The choice of food depends on one’s moods, and sentimental attachments the consumers have towards the food object
In the article, the research design adopted for the study is the use of participation. In this case, a sampling frame of student from the University of Southeastern, in America, was considered. The sampling units were organized based on race; this is referred to as stratified sampling, for instance, African American, Latinos, Asians, and Euro-Americans accounting for 28.2%, 1.1%, 3.7%, and 71.8% respectively. In order to make the sampling process unbiased, 58.8% female and 41.2% male students from junior to senior levels took part during the study.
The main criterion used to analyze the literature was comparison and contrast. Conflicting views from various authors has been used to highlight the main theme discussed in the article. For instance, Meriame-Webster defines comfort foods as a meal prepared in a unique style so that it can bring a sentimental or nostalgic appeal to the user (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 274). In addition, other authors, who have their own fashion of definitions of “comfort food,” enrich the theme discussed in the article from different perspectives. Locher also defines comfort foods as meals consumed when individuals are emotionally disturbed; consumption of these foods evokes positive emotion (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 274). However, all these authors share a common denominator in stating that the meaning of food is examined from a societal point of view rather than a person. For instance, Karp states that cultural conditions have enslaved individuals making it difficult to have a personal or social identity as far as food objects are concerned (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 274). On the same page, Fischler and Silver argue that the consumption of a certain food object makes one acquire a societal identity apart from controlling his body and mind.
There have been various examples used to support the key theme (role played by emotion towards the selection of certain food objects), as illustrated by various student, who participated in the study. Mead and Blumer highlight how vital symbolic interactionism is, through the way individual derive their utility from consuming certain food object during a period of interaction (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 276). Indeed, these interactions bring about emotions, which will further make the consumer to have future attachment on the same food object. McIntosh observes that the experience in consumption of a certain food object brings about an emotional implication to the consumers (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 277). This means that, as one continuously gets addicted towards the consumption of a specific food object he develops emotional tolerance and psychological dependency after consumption. For instance, Vogen states that most medical practitioners have recommended the consumption of some comfort food especially by the aged to relive psychological problems; this group of anorexic patients, whose health has deteriorated (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 294).
In addition, students have also used comfort foods to alleviate stress and relieve tension especially during moments of anxiety or depression. Sometimes the home environment may be boring; therefore, campus, or any other setting away from home may makes them chose comfort foods they may consume to revive their feelings.
The authors have used various types of literature review to send their messages to the reader about how individuals are influenced by the selection of various food objects. The integrative nature of explanation brought about by the student’s involvement in highlighting the way they make their selections of food objects to satisfy their needs. However, a theoretical type of literature review seems to dominate the explanations brought about by authors. Indeed, various views from authors’ works illustrate different theoretical perspectives as to why students, who participated in the study behaved, when they were requested to come with comfort foods of their choice. Following this, reason given by most of them derived their explanation from the theories and views given by various authors in the text. For example, the works of Lupton explain how students linked their memories to the emotions attached on the consumption of some food object, (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 289). One male participant explains how “was comfortable” consuming flower seed at the time he studies for a certain class. (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 286). He refers the consumption of the flower seed during athletic events; he would stand by the relieve tension and anxiety as he consumes the food object. According to Levenstein (1985: 3), Italians, who migrated to America, were identified by the food their ancestors ate. Most of the believed than in so doing, they would remember their culture as derived from food.
The literature review address specific, key themes used various authors, to explain the topic of discussion; a few will be cited to illustrate some of the themes. The idea of the defining food comfort is not viewed from an individual perspective, but societal. All authors agree that the society plays a vital role in shaping an individual towards selection of certain food objects. In addition, the categorization of themes, or determinants, which influence the selection of food objects, is used to explain how various participants behave. For instance, some will prefer nostalgic food because of the time and place they identify with the food. On page 280, a woman explain that she selects blueberry muffins because she lives far, and the food remind he the Saturday morning chats she had with her family. Some will select certain food to cure “homesickness.” A woman from Oregon opts to consume apples grown, on the west coast, to get comfort as well as cure the homesickness; the consumption of the apples brings the home feeling (Julie, Yoels, Maurer, & Ells 2005: 283).
According to the discussion of the article, the presentation of materials leaves many gaps in research. Firstly, the generalization of the findings focuses more on university graduates from southeastern America. Most of them are almost of share the same characteristics; there is a possibility age, religion, and social status is identified by consumption of certain foods. Agreeably, some societies, group, or religion may define their identity by the consumption of certain food. This study could have considered such aspects like the unbiased nature of its findings.
Julie, L., Yoels, W., Maurer, D., & Ells, J. V. 2005. Comfort Foods: An Exploration Journey into the Social and Emotional Significance of Food. Taylor and Francis Journals , 13(4), 273-297.
Levenstein, H. 1985. Food ways: Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment: The American response to Italian Food 1880- 1930. Harwood Academic Publishers, 1(2), 1-24.