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The acquaintance that is food.

By Patrick Donery

Food is a drug, as well as basic sustenance, practically and figuratively. The bases of most medicines are derived from plants and animals and many common foods are still being studied for their health benefits, which may include preventing heart disease and improving cancer prevention. Food can be comforting, soothing, and all around pleasurable. A dish can warm on a cold night or refresh on a hot day; some foods like chocolate can be used as aphrodisiacs. The best of foods are comforting when life is not.

Foods have varying health benefits and many myths revolve around many different food items all around the world. Spices such as Cumin have been studied as possible cancer preventatives, whereas Garlic is believed to have several benefits including antibacterial properties and working as a blood thinner; Garlic is readily found packaged in pills and served as a drug. Though foods are taken for practical drug uses, they are also consumed like a narcotic. Food cravings are typical and sometimes those cravings can reach extremes, becoming an addiction; bulimia is an eating disorder where a person loses self control and goes on an eating binge. A microcosm of such behavior is stereotyped in pop culture, where a person eats their way through a tub of ice cream to drown their sorrows; it acts a distraction to their other concerns. Many myths revolve around food aphrodisiacs, including eating rare animals and strange foods to eating sweets and fruits. Chocolate covered strawberries are commonly referenced to as being one such food item, yet their properties are more commonly associated with sensual pleasure than drug like properties.

A classic practice of comforting someone with food can be as simple as giving a child a lollipop at the doctor’s office or presenting someone with a cup of hot chocolate after they have trudged through the cold. “Comfort foods” vary from person to person, region to region, as they encompass the foods individuals are used to eating and usually have personal or emotional significance. For a person growing up in the Midwestern United States on a farm, they might identify such foods as meatloaf or pot roast; whereas Japanese may identify onigiri and curry as traditional comfort foods. A treat can be defined as something that affords pleasure or enjoyment and in terms of food are commonly identified as sweets or rarities; it can be something as simple as chocolate or as extravagant as a Wagyu beef. Treats can be simple comforts to easy stress or momentous occasions creating pleasant memories of rare instances in life.

Food encompasses many aspects of life. When food is referred to as a medicine is takes on many meanings ranging from the practical uses as drugs to the metaphorical references as a cure for mental or emotional stresses. Food can take on the aspects of narcotics appearing as uncontrolled addictions. It is pleasure granted to the senses and comforts that grants relief. Food is culture; it is an entity that everyone can relate to in their own way.

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