A Starting Point
So now we finally come to the Sociology of Nutrition. However to begin this we must first define what exactly that is. There are any number of definitions out there but a quick Google search turns up:
the science or study of the origin, development, organization, and functioning of human society; the science of the fundamental laws of social relations, institutions, etc.
1. the act or process of nourishing or of being nourished.
2. the science or study of, or a course of study in, nutrition, especially of humans.
Nutrition actually has quite a few definitions, but for our purposes these two definitions will be sufficient for the explanation. You’re more than welcome to delve into the origin and current use of these two words, but know that how I am putting it is as defined above.
We combine those two definitions to say that we are now studying the science of nutrition as it pertains to nourishment as a problem in the development, organization and functioning of human society. Quite specifically we focus on the problem in the United States because of its multiple and unique sociological problems that present today in an unseen but very real disparity in sub populations in this country.
In this attempt we look at nutrition as a sociological problem, not causation, but as a result of a food system created from economic demand and developed without scientific research which is now one of the largest known systems on the planet. These food systems grew symbiotically within already established segregated systems of people within the United States. This has led to a large disparity of nutritional balance across all populations and inevitably has become a sociological problem on its own yet tied inexorably to other sociological problems.
In short, because of already present socioeconomic problems occurring as a result of past sociological problems, racial and gender being two, nutritional availability and marketing has evolved over the past few decades quite differently in different areas.
The really short version: Minorities have a higher risk of nutritional problems, diabetes being the most notable, than other populations. This is due to nutritional deserts present in lower-income areas in our country and public policy that fails to address childhood nutritional issues in low-income public schooling areas.
Lower income areas are more often inhabited by minority populations due to past sociological issues, many of which we may discuss in this blog, but a sociological history lesson is not the issue.
And how does this affect me?
Why should you care? Well, in a perfect world because we care about each other and would like to better humanity. You can put that on your Facebook wall. But know that you are carrying the financial burden through increased insurance premiums, raised hospital bills, higher taxes, increased food costs and more.
Now that we have a common definition we can move forward in the discussion of what this means, what it is and what can be done. Understanding how nutrition has become a sociological problem in the present day and with present challenges is our purpose. Changing it can then be everyone’s.