Core Concepts in Nutritional Anthropology

  • Sera L. YoungEmail author
  • Gretel H. Pelto
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


As a discipline whose aim is to understand the human animal and its place in the natural order of things, a hallmark of anthropology is that its practitioners often engage in research that has the effect of making the familiar strange, and the strange familiar. For example, nutritional anthropologists examine practices in contemporary Euro-American societies that are taken for granted as simply “normal” or “natural” and reveal how culture-bound they actually are. The structure of meals, in which foods are served sequentially with soup first and dessert last, strikes people in other parts of the world as quite peculiar. They also seek to understand and “make sense” out of culinary practices that at first encounter appear to be irrational, such as the prohibition of beef consumption in food-scarce, poor Hindu villages. On more careful study, this prohibition turns out to be ecologically sound because of the complex energetic relationships of animals, humans, fuel, and agricultural production in South Asia [1].


Anthropology Biocultural Ecological model Pica Adaptation Emic Etic 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Nutritional SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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