The change in eating habits in Canadian History: The destroying of family
Canada is a country found in the Northern part of North America being the world’s second largest country by area. The food types that Canadian people take depend on the family heritage as well as the culture. During holidays, Canadians embrace their culture through preparation and consumption of exotic foods (Ward, 1999). Sea foods dishes are common in such holidays. Other popular foodstuffs include Canadian Maple Syrup and other maple products. The eating habits and pattern of the Canadian have evolved with time and continue to change gradually. A number of factors can be associated with the change from traditional eating habits to the present ones including the influence of foreign population and busy lifestyles. There is growing concern over the impact of these changes on the family relations and other aspects such as health. The traditional methods would require the whole family to gather during meal times and the session would act as both a time to eat and socialize. Communication within the family was therefore practiced and the bond within the family stayed strong. However, emerging practices are destroying this important fabric and the family continues to be destroyed by the minimal social occasions and communication venues available.
There are several foods groups enjoyed by Canadian people; these include, meat, beef, pork, seafood; grain products, vegetables and fruits not forgetting milk and dairy products like cheese, butter and yoghurt. However, modern eating habits have changed by introduction of junk foods in restaurants. Due to increased hustle in life, families no longer have time to sit and eat together and organize parties where traditional foods were common (Beaujot & Kerr, 2007). Consequently, there have been increased processed foods in Canada and since they are already processed, people do not waste time preparing these foods. Studies have found that Canadians between 31 and 50 who consume too much food exceed a quarter of the population. The rate of consumption varies with the level of income with Adults in the low- and lower- middle income level being less likely to consume too much fat compared to those in the highest income households. These changes in eating patterns are considered risky health-wise as the Institute of Medicine in the United States points. The organization expresses that the consumption of more than 35 percent of the calories in fat increases the risks in health. Such practices can increase the risk of heart problems, a number of cancer types and also obesity. The main diets in Canada that provide fats include snack foods, meat, margarine, butter, and diary foods with high fat content. Traditionally snacks were chosen from fruits, vegetables, milk products, grain products and such food groups. However, forty-one percent of the snacks consumed by the present population consumes from sources other than the food groups named above.
Increased working hours lessen free time for Canadians hence causing them to reduce the number of times that they prepare traditional meals. Most individuals get out of the office in late hours and as a result of being weary they pick readymade and canned foods on their way home. The traditional meal times when people could socialize are therefore forgotten and the family and societal bond continues to decline.
Market Research Organization conducted a study in 2011 and found the growing Asian population to influence the eating patterns of Canadians in a strong way. The study found 11% of the population in Canada to be Asian and with increasing number of Asians, the eating patterns continued to change (CBC News, 2011). Generally, consumption shifted from potatoes to rice and the meals served with potatoes fell by a significant margin every year. On the other hand, meals served including rice increased as well yearly. The traditional meals that consisted of beef meat are being replaced by Asian favorites (Seafood and pork). Additional traditional Asian products like green tea are also being consumed more. This is affecting the Canadian’s culture therefore translating to a loss in their identity. The culture and heritage of people is what keeps them together hence changing it would greatly impact on the people’s pride (Beaujot, 2000).
The oceans bordering have a lot of sea life that includes fish and other animals that can be exploited for seafood. Formation of seafood industries has impacted negatively on family gatherings and social life. In the past, people used to gather in such water bodies and socialize while fishing for food. There is heightened need for convenience-oriented products to solve people’s busy schedule (Beaujot, 2000). However, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance continues to campaign for Canadians to eat more seafood. The organization recently conducted a survey that showed of the 88 percent Canadians that had consumed seafood in the month before the survey was conducted; only 15 percent met the recommendations of Canada Food Guide which requires Canadians to consume two servings every week. The recommendation is based on the fact that seafood is a good source of protein with its Omega 3 Fatty acids being linked with positive brain and heart health (Par’, 2006).
Due to Canada’s relatively friendly climate, dairy animals’ producers are available. This natural product is then taken to industries and processed to make several industrial products like cheese. These can be bought ready for consumption. This helps the tight-scheduled people in Canada as they lack time to come together and participate in events that would help in processing the dairy product themselves. Such busy lifestyle ensures people lack time for their families and social life thus destroying a family.
There is also the case of children watching television as they take their meals. In a study undertaken by the Department of nutrition in Canada, 18% of girls and more than 25% of boys were found to eat in front of the television daily. This new trend is killing the traditional practice whereby families could sit down at meals and spend some quality time together. In addition to destroying time for socializing and communication in the family, television watching has fragmented families with the arguments arising regarding the particular program to watch while eating (Cooke, 2009). When eventually the program to watch is agreed on, the family members proceed to entertain themselves and communication ceases. The parent will not have time to ask the children how they spent their day and the children will not share with their parents what is in their minds. Eating is no longer a social experience and the parents stay in the dark regarding the things going on in their children’s lives. The bond in the family therefore continues to weaken when in fact it should be maintained strong.
Increased inflation has made many people busy with most of their time being focused on money making ventures. As a result, the population needs lots of energy to be able to perform such tasks. This is one reason for the introduction of junk foods in restaurants has increased. These fatty foods provide energy and calories to be able to perform daily tasks (Rebecca, 2001). Continuous use of these foods may also lead to unhealthy life later.
Traditionally, Alcohol was consumed in the social gatherings and parties to lighten the mood and as people conversed but this was done after meals. Now, alcohol brewing organizations have been formed and alcohol intake is not specific to social occasions but rather Canadians consume alcohol where and when they feel like it as long as it is not against the laws of the land. The brewing organizations provide employment opportunities to some fraction of the population. In turn, this improves lifestyles of the employees due to provision of capital. However, introduction of alcoholic drinks has some negative impact on the daily life. Due to immense stress as a result of inflation and hardened life, more people find themselves indulged in drinking alcohol (Rebecca, 2001). This has several negative effects on a family. Due to continued absence from home of family figures due to drinking and partying there is no time for families to spend time together and bond. Sometimes, drunken partners can come home and are moody and abusive. This might lead to violence and consequently; divorce. According to divorce analysts, drinking accounts for sixteen percent of all divorce cases in Canada. Another way, drinking can lead the destruction of a family is due to immense partying, couples might become broke. Lack of money coupled with other problems might lead to arguments and distances within relationships. For drinking women, excessive drinking might lead to destruction of their reproductive life. Drinking and other drugs abuse is responsible for a great percentage of the people who are not reproductive in most countries. As a result of lack of reproduction, stigmatization and immense friction between the partners as a result of childlessness can lead to divorce and consequently destruction of family.
Eating habits in Canada have really changed in the past few years. Some people have become more aware of the need to embrace healthy lifestyles and consequently reduce health care costs while others burdened by hard life, embrace feeding on junk foods that contain fats and chemicals and as a result this in the future leads to overburdened health care costs coupled with stress (CBC News, 2011). Families that cannot afford the rising health care costs are disadvantaged by lack of money and in case of deaths, this leaves the family apart and stressed. This in turn interferes with family social life and family gatherings. The concerned authorities should provide counseling services as well as advice its citizens on the right kinds of foods to eat in order to avoid these frustrations by embracing eating of diet foods.
In Canada, traditional family unit was always closely knitted with family gathering during meal time and eating parties. These were traditional foods that were naturally obtained from plants and animals. Seafood was obtained from the sea by family members and was also viewed both as economic and social activity. During such eating parties, people showed their togetherness and this helped in pulling such family units closer. Search food activities from natural product was also considered fun and social events have vanished and people no longer come together during such events. Research has proved that a large number of Canadian families have been left weaker socially over the past few years as a result of less social events organized and lack of social family meetings. Furthermore, in the past, meal time was always considered as the period of the day where people would come together and share stories which in turn served to strengthen family bonds (EatRight Ontario, n.d.). Due to introduction of industries and part time jobs, most Canadian families do not have all their members during mealtime. Canada is now a twenty four hour economy country and this ensures absence of family members home at mealtime. The periods spent working which were initially used as ‘come together’ moments are now seen less and less attendances due to changing in food and eating habits.
Due to the recent feeding, eating and living habits, most families have been destructed from social life and most children grow up valuing individual life as opposed to family life (Par’, 2006). Research shows that divorce cases are in the rise as a result of changing feeding habits. Adults who were brought up in traditional and tight families find themselves living in loose families with reduced attention as a result of lack time from their partners (Cooke, 2009). This coupled with increased pressure economically and inflation is everyday surprisingly affecting the social lives and family lives of Canadian people negatively. There is need for concerned authorities to work closely with family bodies and researchers to come up with ways to mobilize and sensitive the population on the need to fight the unnoticeable changes in eating habits which in turn has had a huge impact on their lives.
At home or at school, in restaurants and in households, Canadians are facing increase in variety of foods they consume. Due to the busy schedule of most Canadians, imported readymade foods are abundantly available. Furthermore frozen meals that can be prepared within minutes to satisfy the time crunched households are also available. Fresh fruits and vegetables that were considered rare are now abundant, thanks to the new technology where food is modified genetically and can mature in short lifespan to serve the ever rising appetite due to increasing numbers of people embracing the need for these genetically modified foods. Most processed foods are food stores and as a result, fast foods are part of diet for every Canadian.
The increasing variety of food sources in Canada has impacted negatively on family closeness. Now people can access foods in food stores, restaurants, and hotels. Initially, people could only get their foods through preparation in homes and could spend time together eating and sharing stories. This ensured the families raised their children in closely knitted families that would be very important in the child’s life. Research shows that children who were raised in families that eat together more often grew up in strong relationships as compared to those who grow up in families with busy schedules that cannot afford time to share meals together (Cooke, 2009). Analysts give advice to Canadians to always make sure to take meals with their family members or their spouses to increase their familial bond. These irradiated fast foods in restaurants are not without negative effects. Some chemicals used to preserve these foods reach a certain level where they become toxic. They have adverse effects on human health since they cause chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and heart attack which are hard to manage. Their managements not only bring stress to a family unit but also increase their cost of living since the medical care is expensive. In case of these illness related deaths, the family unit is destroyed since loss of their member as a result of eating habit related illness cannot be replaced adequately.
In conclusion, research has proved that family unit is under threat due to changing eating habits in Canada. Due to variety of foods, the Canadian generation find themselves consuming fatty foods and less natural products. Also the vegetables and fruits they consume are mainly genetically modified and have more calories than the exotic ones. Experts have advised that for the Canadians to save the family unit, the authorities should create forums to create awareness to the people on the need to improve one’s eating habit to ensure good healthy life. Pro family organizations also should advice people accordingly on the need to spend quality time together while eating as opposed to watching television sets and other forms of entertainment.
Beaujot, R. &, Kerr, D. (2007). The changing face of Canada: essential readings in population. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Beaujot, R. (2000). Earning and Caring in Canadian Families. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
CBC News. (2011). Canadians tackle bad eating habits. Retrieved April 11, 2012 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2010/12/31/con-live-right-now-portions.html
Cooke, N. (2009).What’s to Eat?: Entrées in Canadian Food History. Quebec: McGill-Queen’s Press
EatRight Ontario. Family meals with no TV. Retrieved April 11, 2012 from: http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Adolescents-teenagers/Family-Meals-with-no-TV.aspx
Par’, J. (2006). Timeless Recipes for All Occasions: Family Favourites. Alberta: Company’s Coming Publishing Limited.
Rebecca, D. (2001). Health: The Basics. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, Incorporated
Ward, P. (1999). A History of Domestic Space: Privacy and the Canadian Home. London: UBC Press.