Monday, October 4, 2010

Food Neophobia: Meat Is My Novel Food.

As a child, I can't remember being extremely picky when it came to food. If it was in front of me and I thought tasted good, I ate it. It used to be such a simple concept. I didn't show much food neophobia because I grew up with grandparents from Germany and Italy, and sometimes the food we ate was more on the novel side, and it didn't seem to bother me. I remember eating liverwurst and loving it, which now repulses me (being that it is grounded up pork liver in a spreadable form). As I grew up though, I slowly started to part ways with all these novel foods that I once thought tasted good, as I became more conscious of what I was actually eating. Eventually, at the age of 15, I became a vegetarian, and have been for 7 years now.

I don't eat any meat, including poultry/chicken, any seafood, or eggs. It got to a point where I was thinking too in depth about what I was actually eating, and it bothered me. According to the Food Neophobia Scale, questions such as willingness to try, expected liking, actual liking, and willingness to try these foods again are addressed. All these questions have been posed to me while I've been a vegetarian. "Do you think you'll ever try meat again? Do you just not like it? Have you ever tried it?" When I answer these questions, I find myself a definite neophobic. My willingness to try new foods, especially meats, is not at all. I've developed such a simplistic pallet being a vegetarian; I do not stray from the same few things that I eat on any every day basis. Therefore meat and seafood have become such a novel food for me, although it's technically considered a familiar food within our culture.

Food preference is considered a universal motive, however our personal preferences can be so different it makes you wonder what triggers these likes and dislikes between each individual. Many people also ask me if I had to eat meat to survive, would I? Of course I would. However, to just eat any type of food (especially coming from an animal) just to try it, I never would. Unless someone's betting me money to do it, then maybe. But it'd have to be a lot of money. One of my favorite channels is the Travel Channel, and on it is a show called Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. On it, he travels to different countries and experiences their food culture; he is an example of the exact opposite of me, a true neophilic, or someone who is willing to try new food. He not only is willing to try anything and possibly like it, but in the video below he eats one of our universal fears: a beating cobra's heart.

Neophobia is based on its survival value; we limit ourselves to what we choose to eat so we do not become ill or poisoned by consuming something of the unknown. However, it's also important to not become too neophobic and not eat a proper variety of foods for good nutrition. I have to take a handful of vitamins everyday and get bloodwork done more often because of vegetarianism, which is not extremely ideal. However, I can't see my food neophobia diminishing any time soon, so I must keep up with this lifestyle in order to stay healthy.


  1. Your blog is truly interesting! I was a bit opposite when I was younger with food. I grew up in an Italian household, eating many types of food, but some foods, such as liver, green beans, squash, carrots even raw tomatoes I could not swallow! I still can not even liver or raw tomatoes, but my vegetable intake is much higher and I actually enjoy green beans and other vegetables! I hear you on the meat aspect of food. I have always eaten all kind of meat, the casual cow, pork, chicken and even some exotic meats, such as, duck, quail, rabbit and venicin(deer). Lately, though, I am not that much into meat as I used to be. I find it much healthier to limit meat. I now only eat chicken or turkey, and occassionally beef (I have to get my meatball fix somehow!) It is inspiring to hear of vegetarians going years without meat. I tried for three months and could not longer do it, however, my red meat intake as dropped drastically. I do eat a lot of fish, too. I do not know how that man at the heart, but it is interesting to see people's various food intakes. I agree with you on being careful with how much one can be neophobic. We need to eat a variety of foods for nutrition purposes, however, being cautious can prevent illnesses, as you stated.

  2. Thanks! Yeah, a lot of people I know have attempted vegetarianism and haven't been able to keep up with it for more than a couple weeks or months or so. It's harder when meat is actually enjoyed and a part of the person's daily diet; for me its the complete opposite. I forget that it's actually an option for me at this point, it doesn't even cross my mind anymore. Some meat and seafood are extremely nutritional, it's good that you were able to limit your amount of the bad meats, such as red, because our bodies can definitely do without it. Overall I think I'm probably missing out to some extent, or at least that's what all my friends say, but I've completely forgotten what it's like to eat it, so I'm doing just fine haha.