Read the text below. Based on your understanding of the text, circle the letter (A, B, C or D) of
the most appropriate answer to the multiple choice questions given at the end of the text.
Culture and Food Habits
1 All individuals must eat to survive — but what people eat, when they eat, and the manner in
which they eat are all patterned by culture. No society views everything in its environment that is
1edible and might provide nourishment as food: Certain edibles are ignored, others are tabooed.
These food taboos may be so strong that just the thought of eating forbidden foods can cause an individual to feel ill. A Hindu vegetarian would feel this way about eating any kind of meat, an American about eating dogs, and a Muslim or orthodox Jew about eating pork. The taboo on eating human flesh is probably the most universal of all food taboos. Although some societies in the past practiced ritual cannibalism, members of most modern societies have resorted to cannibalism only under the most desperate of circumstances. The cases of cannibalism by the Donner Pass party (trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846) and more recently by a South American soccer team, whose plane crashed in the Andes, caused a great
2furor. Human flesh may be a source of protein, but it is not one that most humans are willing to use.
2 The ways in which human beings obtain their food is one of culture’s most fascinating stories.
The way food is acquired has gone through several stages of development in the hundreds of thousands of years of humanity’s existence on earth. For most of this time, people
have supported themselves with the pattern called hunting and gathering. This pattern relies on food that is naturally available in the environment. It includes the hunting of large and small
1 To ban an activity or avoid it following a social custom 2 Very angry or excited reaction
game animals, fishing, and the collecting of various plant foods. It does not include producing food either by planting or by keeping domesticated animals for their milk or meat. Today, only about 30,000 of the world’s people live solely by hunting and gathering.
3 Another ancient pattern of obtaining food is pastoralism, which is the raising of domesticated herd animals such as goats, sheep, camels, or cattle, all of which produce both milk and meat. Pastoralism is a specialized adaptation to a harsh or mountainous environment that is not productive enough to support a large human population through agriculture. The major areas of pastoralism are found in Eurasia, where caribou and reindeer are domesticated and herded. Pastoralism alone cannot support a human population, so additional food grain must either be produced or purchased by trade with other groups.
4 The third major way of acquiring food is through agriculture, or the planting, raising, and harvesting of crops from the land. Agriculture, which is only about 10,000 years old, may range from simple, nonmechanized horticulture to farming with the help of animal drawn plows, to the extensively mechanized agriculture of industrialized nations. Anthropologists generally agree that it was the gradual transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture that opened up new possibilities for cultural development.
5 Generally speaking, cultural patterns of getting food are generated primarily by the natural, or physical, environment of the group. All human groups, like other animal communities, have developed special ways of making their environment nurture and support them. Where several groups share the same environment, they use it in different ways, so they can live harmoniously
with each other. In a study of northern Pakistan, for example, it was found that Kohistanis, Pathans, and Gujars inhabit the same mountainous area. These three groups are able to coexist peacefully because each utilizes a different aspect of the land. The Pathans are farmers, using the valley regions for raising wheat, corn, and rice. The Kohistanis live in the colder mountainous regions, herding sheep, goats, cattle, and water buffalo and raising millet and corn. The Gujars are full time herders and use marginal areas not used by the Kohistanis. The Gujars provide milk and meat products to the Pathan farmers and also work as agricultural laborers during the busy seasons. These patterns of specialized and harmonious relationships among different cultures in a local environment are typical of pastoral, or herding, people.
Some other food getting patterns or food habits are not so easy to understand as those 6
described. The origins of many culturally patterned food habits still puzzle anthropologists. Some of these food habits appear on the surface to be irrational and detrimental to the existence of the group. For example, consider the Hindu taboo on eating beef despite the widespread poverty and periodic famine in India. Yet anthropologist Marvin Harris views this Hindu taboo as an ecological adaptation — that is, as an adjustment to a specific environmental condition.
Harris stated that cows are important in India not because they can be eaten but because they give birth to bullocks,
the essential farming animals that pull plows and carts. If a family were to eat its cows during a famine, it would deprive itself of the source of its bullocks and could not continue farming. Thus the religious taboo on eating beef strengthens the ability of the society to maintain itself in the long run.
7 It is also possible that there is a biological component to the avoidance of certain foods in specific cultures. The Chinese aversion to milk, for example, may be caused by the fact that lactase, an enzyme that helps digest the sugar lactose in milk, is missing in many Mongoloid populations. As a result, the milk sugar, lactose, cannot be digested, and drinking milk frequently caused intestinal distress. Evidence to support biological reasons for food taboos is scarce, however, and at this point it seems safest to say that it is primarily culture that tells us which foods we should eat and which we should not.
Adapted from: Gregg, J. Y. (1998). Communication and Culture. International Thomson
1. According to the text, which of the following are influenced by culture (parag.1)?
(I) The type of food people eat
(II) The time people eat food
(III) The way people eat food
(IV) The type of food people ignore
A. I, II & III
B. I, III & IV
C. II, III & IV
D. I, II, III & IV
2. The examples of a Hindu vegetarian, an American and a Muslim or orthodox Jew
not eating certain types of food show that _______________(parag. 1). (2 marks)
A. food taboos have a very powerful effect on a person
B. different cultures may ignore certain foods
C. it is often distasteful for these people to eat meat
D. eating forbidden food is morally wrong
3. What do we learn about cannibalism in most modern societies (parag 1)? (2 marks) A. It is never practiced as there is a universal taboo on eating human flesh. B. It may be practiced only under very exceptional circumstances.
C. The public is generally quite forgiving if it is practiced when there is a food shortage. D. Human flesh is not considered a good source of protein even if people are willing to
4. Over the past hundreds and thousands of years, humans’ way of obtaining food has
followed several stages of development. Choose the correct sequence of stages below.
(parag. 2, 3, 4). (2.5 marks)
(I) Getting food that is available in the natural environment
(II) Producing food grain through planting crops
(III) Raising herd animals for milk or meat
(IV) Purchasing food through trade
A. (I) (III) & (II)
B. (I) (III) & (IV)
C. (I), (II) & (III)
D. (I) (II) & (IV)
5. What does the text tell us about the practice of pastoralism (parag 3)? (2 marks)
A. It is an ancient way of obtaining food through raising herd animals.
B. It is taken as an alternative to agriculture to provide sufficient food.
C. It is usually practiced in mountainous areas where people need more meat to fight the
D. Herd animals are often traded for other agriculture products.
6. The main idea of paragraph 5 is about __________________. (2.5 marks) A. the ways the northern Pakistanis acquired their food, which were very different from
what the others did
B. the ways ancient people maintained their harmonious relationship by supplying food
to each other
C. the ways human groups rely on the same natural and physical environment to
support themselves in different ways so they can coexist peacefully
D. the ways people obtain different food from the same environment driven by their
7. How does the anthropologist Marvin Harris explain the Hindu taboo on eating beef
(parag. 6) ? (2 marks)
A. It does not seem reasonable and it threatens the existence of the people.
B. Cows are such an important farming animal that the taboo on eating beef is critical
to people’s survival in the long run.
C. It is mainly due to a biological reason that beef is avoided by the Hindu.
D. The taboo on beef is not strictly followed when there is widespread poverty and
severe famine in India.