Recently, I’ve been getting in to a lot of conversations about what type of food is acceptable and what isn’t. Things like bugs and snails that may seem awful to many Americans are delectable delights in other countries. Many of these people I had conversations with have judged other cultures for eating these things. After some thought, however, I have come to realize that food from other cultures that our society may seem as barbaric or gross are not so at all.
Different cultures have evolved and grown around different circumstances and others have no right to judge them for the type of food they like. Take bugs, for example. In some countries, bugs are the main source of protein. They’re also really not that bad if they are prepared properly. One of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever been to served grasshoppers as an appetizer. The shells were crunchy and with salt and lime juice on them, these bugs that I had previously considered gross tasted delicious. When I showed the photo I took of the grasshoppers to my friends and family, most of them overexaggerated a gagging noise. Some of them even asked me to get the photo away from them. It’s strange to me how they judged this type of food.
The same has happened with raw fish, usually found in sushi. This is a more widely accepted type of food that can seem gross to some people. Many Americans eat sushi. Those that don’t, however, criticize people for eating raw fish. This type of food is a huge part of the Japanese culture. I find it hard to understand why some people can’t accept that.
Some foods that may seem barbaric to us should also not be faulted in other countries. Some people eat dogs. Of course, I would never eat dog meat. I love dogs as companions and would like to adopt one once I live alone and am financially stable enough to make one happy. Going by the previous logic, however, who am I to judge someone if eating dogs is part of their culture? It may seem barbaric to me, but it is normal to them and they are people too.
This kind of thing goes both ways. In India, cows are seen as sacred, as the reborn versions of people’s ancestors. So, no one in India eats beef. In America, however, hamburgers and steak are considered some of our classic foods. Eating cows is part of our culture as well, though I’m sure people in India are horrified about us doing so just like we, as Americans, might be about other cultures eating dogs.
Many people in Asian countries eat dogs. There is actually a man named Marc Ching who saves dogs from the meat industry in Asia. While this thought makes me happy, it still brings up questions of whether Ching is doing the right thing. In our culture, saving dogs from being tortured and killed seems amazing. But this notion is hypocritical.
Thousands of cows and chickens are tortured every day by the American meat industry. They live in extremely close quarters, sometimes never getting enough food, and get injected with growth hormones. To add to that, their miserable lives end with a slaughterhouse. We then eat those animals – how would that look to another culture? Who are we to tell them what to do when we are doing something just as bad – if not worse?
I’m not saying we should all go vegetarian to save the animals. I just think that when it comes to food, people need to take a step back and think. Putting things into perspective is always important, but in this case, it can make all the difference. Not judging people for the food they eat is one step towards not judging other people in general. That step, I think, is very important.