Characteristics of the Environment

Knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes to food are the result of the cultural environment, eating patterns established in childhood, and the constant flow of daily information (Lappalainen, et al., 1998).

Culture and traditions can be the basis on which decisions are formed for the choice of particular food. Some of the largest variations in food choice are due to the boundaries laid down by cultures and traditions because they give us values and beliefs in different foods and eating patterns. For many people these provide the framework within which an individual's food choice may evolve (Pollard et al., 2002). Many examples can be given of the impact of culture in the choice of food (Rozin et al., 1999; Johansen et al., 2011). Typical for the regional food diets are certain dairy products—Bulgarian yogurt for Bulgaria, Roquefort for France, and Parmedjano for Italy.

There are many studies on collective culture that is strongly influenced by the family. Traditionally, adults set the menu and thus play a significant role in shaping the eating patterns of younger family members. Foods are a cultural mode of expression and a central part of many social rituals passed from one generation to another. More traditional types of food culture with more ritualized meals is inherent in older, less-educated people and those living in small towns and villages (Rozin et al., 2006).

Especially strong is the link between culture and food in its preparation. Rozin (2007) has established culinary practices in three important features: the basic foods, the basic preparation techniques, and characteristic flavors placed on traditional foods. Culture- specific aspects are also the manner of eating, the order of serving various dishes, and social rules about eating and particular foods appropriate for particular individuals or particular times. At the same time, dynamic modern lifestyle, especially in developed countries, and the opportunities to travel make increasingly popular both eating outside the home and the becoming familiar with foreign cultures and foods. All this makes possible the existence of the modern and the traditional side by side.

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