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mcdonalds pizza hut. traditions, customs, cultures, food, food preferences, global ideas, consumption, eating

The Globalization of Food and it’s Impact on other Cultures


The purpose of this compiled research was carried out to show how globalization is projected into other cultures through the methodology of socialization and food choices. The academic and scholarly journals utilized; along with some internet references, have provided the essential validation needed to prove that many countries do not whole heartedly approve of the theory found in globalization. Many groups of socially and culturally oriented people were found to be put off by this concept and very wary about its affects on their country’s cultural beliefs and lifestyles. The main points this body of research makes is that, although all people enjoy food, especially food that has spread through global marketing, they still would prefer some of their own thoughts and ideas left intact. Furthermore, this research has emphasized that many cultures value food and find comfort through certain aspects of meal time and socialization. Therefore, there are several groups who are against mass globalization as they feel it infiltrates their own values and erases many of their personal customs.

Globalization and its Widening Scope

Throughout the globalization and marketing of different cultural foods, researchers have realized that certain foods are representative of comfort to some cultures. Food is a concept that is not wholly interlaced with cultural ambiguities, but rather includes many other factorizations as well. For some cultures, eating can be understood as being rather symbolic to an individual or group, such as the feelings that are involved or memories that are expressed by the mere association with food (Wansink, et al 2003, p.739). This is why some countries are not accepting of food or other cultural interpretations becoming globalized, although many already have. People in México, Australia, Japan and others feel that mass globalization creates confusion within their own living environment, especially among young children who are highly impressionable.

Food seems to tie into a very intricate bond within some cultures. At the same time, nationalities all around the globe are aware of the concept of marketing of other ethnic food choices such as food chains like, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken; and other foreign franchises. However, this does not mean all are cooperative of the globalization of these foods being brought to their countries. For some ethnic groups, food is a celebration of life and meal preparedness along with the consumption of the food is an important social and cultural identity marker. By foreign food chains interrupting previous cultural patterns; it damages and transforms what use to exist in the idea of food and many other social aspects of life, such as in China and countries in the Middle East (Wansink, et al 2003, p.740). For example, before globalization the Chinese culture was not familiar with French bread, meatballs, and pastrami. Also, a country like Italy was unable to relate to food choices like monk fish and fried rice. However, globalization has brought these very two different culturally oriented foods to different areas of the globe. Again though, this does not equal total acceptance by all people and some countries are not fond of foreign foods and social concepts entering into their country and transforming their way of life.

An exploration into cultures who view food as comfort show that these ethnic groups are not so appraising of globalization. This is because this idea is disrupting various cultures and their way of life as it has been known to them for decades. An article by Marisa Viola (2005) shows that the majority of Latino’s love the time it takes to prepare meals and then share them with the family, but when franchises such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut begin appearing on every corner in the Latin world, they take a culture tradition away from the Latino people. Many do not like this and feel it is becoming overwhelming and more of an intrusion than a personal choice. McDonalds is fast food and this is totally opposite from how true Latino culture is. The time that Latin Americans put into preparing a meal speaks volumes about their culture and the unity that lies within it (Lupton 2000, p.94). However, when an American Franchise such as McDonalds continues to expand in their own country, it interrupts how food, family time, and socialization were once carried out. Japan and Australia are examples of two other countries that have had their own cultural identities pushed aside due to globalization. Other countries food choices and social characteristics have affected how life is in these two countries today. Furthermore, the quality of the atmosphere in both of these countries is in no way vindictive of many American food chains representations of food and lifestyle that have been brought into their countries. These countries favour the social aspects of meal time and the bonding experience it brings. The idea that McDonalds represents is, food on the run, rather than what Japanese and Austrian people prefer (Lupton 2000, p.94).

Globalization puts adverse ideas onto how many cultures normally would have developed social relationships, values and beliefs, and new understandings of life through their own associations with food (Super 2002). Obviously, the concept of globalization affects connections in cultures that have to do with the inclusion of domestication, civilization, and primarily consumerism (Douglass 2002).

To extend the theory of food as a globalization process, the perception that food is the same for every culture is very untrue. This is especially the case since empirical evidence, and various sociological studies have proven otherwise. The thought pattern that is intertwined with the consumption of food is regulated by diverseness found within different social groups and cultural backgrounds (Super 2002). Firstly, the region that people live plays the most applicable role in social identity and a cultures personal reasoning of food (Douglass 2002). The globalization process creates a rift in the natural balance of identity among some cultures. Therefore, it should be understood that food itself plays more than a trivial role in the mass variety of social characteristics found amongst the many cultures of the world (Super 2002). In the past, cultural identity differences were easily distinguishable. Now, because of advancing globalization and its turning massive, social values among cultures are converging (Global Policy Forum 2005). This might be positive to some but not for all.

People have fears and concerns that the continuation of globalization is going to forever change traditional values, and peoples’ personal sense of community and social interactions. Mexico is one country in particular that is wearisome of further Western culture invading its native living space (Iliff 2002). The following statements from community representatives in Mexico detail their feelings on the globalization activities going on in the world and in their own country. It is not that Mexican people abhor McDonalds, as this franchise is prominent in the country. However, there are those that are concerned that their traditional associations with food and family unity are being lost, and now their culture is becoming more self servant than united, due to globalization. Iliff (2003) writes that local cultural groups are uniting together to put a halt too further invasion of their culture. Homero Aridjis, voiced his personal feelings, which has been included in this research in the below, debatable paragraph.

McDonalds used to be the symbol of American

Imperialism, but it’s now a symbol of

Globalization and that causes a lot of anxiety among

some Mexicans. It’s a contradiction because these

U.S. franchises are very successful, but their success

affects our cultural heritage (Iliff 2002).

In conclusion, the evidence provided has proven that not all people in every country around the globe feel globalization is a good thing. It is more of a barrier preventing them from continuing in teaching their children their own cultural values and beliefs. Though globalization can be a good thing and bring new ideas to various areas of the world, there needs to be a stopping point. Continuation of this concept could lead to problems if people begin feeling it is forced on them instead of it presenting new choices. This is something that should always be kept in mind when marketing and globalizing any product or business. Personal preference should be the top most consideration before globalization becomes totally viewed as an intruder rather than an asset.
Published: 2006-04-13
Author: Misty Keith

About the author or the publisher
Misty Keith is a wife and mother of three. She has been published in many venues on the web, as well as one print publication. Currently she works for clients, assisting them with academic papers of all genres. She can write in non-fiction, fiction, horror, romance, inspirational, motivational; basically all creative styles are a familiarity for her. Creativity and Inspirational are her favorite styles.

Misty Keith

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