Nutrition in a social and environmental context: an introduction
Food is the main agent of nutrition because it delivers essential components that sustain health. The position of food in society, however, is complex. We tend to eat food in a social and cultural context, so we may not always recognise the connections between nutrition science and food on the table. The culinary arts add a further dimension to this setting, and culinary practices may make little if any reference to nutritional concepts. Finally, in Western urbanised societies, food production, manufacturing and distribution is managed within a sophisticated industrial and trade-oriented system, where economics is a critical factor. Nevertheless, given the connection between food and health, knowledge of nutrition remains important, and there is a role for nutrition practice in all these domains. This chapter introduces the wider context in which nutrition science operates, to set the scene for more detailed discussion later (see Chapter 13).