Culture and food security
This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security journal reviews the impact of culture on all four dimensions of food security (availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability). This review has shown that what we eat, as well as how and why we obtain, process, store, prepare, share, and eat food, is affected by culture in various way. Empirical evidence on the impact of cultural drivers of food security appears to be mixed and varies across different cultural groups and socio-economic settings. Culture has received a more prominent place on the policy agenda. Yet, less progress has been made in integrating and mainstreaming it into food security policies and interventions in practice. Culture should especially be taken into account by ensuring the availability of food that meets culturally determined preferences. The effectiveness of behavioural change communication campaigns depends on how culture is taken into account as well. Improved understanding of cultural models of gender, family and decision-making power is therefore crucial to make sure that the most relevant decision-makers are involved. Besides, information that is culturally appropriate and builds upon certain culture traits may be more effective in capturing attention, stimulation information processing and motivating behavioural change. Besides cultural acceptability, traditional foods have also been documented to offer several benefits: high levels of micronutrients, (natural) availability, affordability, higher resilience, and lower care needs. It is worthwhile to explore traditional diets and gather information on the nutrition and toxic content of traditional foods. Improving the integration of culture may enhance the effectiveness of production-oriented policies and interventions as well. If policy is to take advantage of the potential benefits of traditional food systems, however, more efforts are needed to document and preserve these food systems and the underlying biological and cultural resources. Participatory approaches based on dialogue and information sharing may be especially suitable to take culture into account in practice. An area for research is to understand how important cultural effects are relative to other drivers, such as environmental factors. Another area is related to dynamics of culture. It is unknown when, how and why culture changes or persists.