Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

2019 Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Food Rituals

  • Emily J. BaileyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1179-9_338



The study of ritual food practices and morality is, fundamentally, rooted in religious practice and belief. Methodologically, anthropology and sociology are best suited for analyzing ritual actions, intentions, and the boundaries of practitioners’ moral or ethical motivations. Religion becomes a central component of ritual actions involving food preparation (cooking) and consumption (eating) when a higher power or supernatural authority is intentionally made part of the ritual food process. In this way, cooking and eating take on meaning beyond nutritional and physical sustenance, becoming modes for interacting with the spiritual or transcendent. There are three fundamental ways in which this occurs. First, an individual or community chooses a certain type of food as a sacramental or sacrificial source of nourishment. Second, a specific food is avoided or considered taboo and is forbidden in ritual...

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious StudiesUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA