Are Superfood’s Just Cultural Fads?

Most people recognize the term superfood as a food deemed highly nutritious and often associated with being organic and natural.  There is a growing variety of foods that have earned the title superfood.  Some include foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, banana’s and apple’s, that many North American’s accommodate into their everyday diets while people in other cultures may see them as strange or exotic.  This concept also works in the reverse direction as well, with people from other cultures eating foods we classify as exotic superfood’s, in their everyday diet.  There are superfod’s that seem strange to us, but if they are given the label we will not question it because it is supposed to provide tremendous health benefits.

Superfood’s are classified in terms of culture and what a certain people find valuable for their health and diets.  The term itself is a very cultural term that we have assigned a specific meaning to.  It plays into the role of foodways in our culture because when a food is classified as a superfood, there becomes a surge in demand for it.  The foodways established in North America allows these foods to be easily transported to meet the demand.

But how can one food be so easily classified as a superfood? The fact is that for many people participating in the superfood fad, the foods really don’t provide that much of a benefit. Yes, foods labeled as superfood’s have a variety of nutritional values, but they do not provide anything more than a well balanced diet does on its own.  Healthy people do not need superfoods because they are already getting the nutrients they need from other sources.  Although a superfood may still be healthy it does little to boost the health of already healthy people.  The real value for superfood’s would be for malnourished people, or people who live in environments where they are not getting a variety of nutrients already.  However, these people generally do not partake in the superfood fad.

A great example of how superfoods are just fads is the Avocado craze that has swept the nation.   Before being introduced as a superfood, avocado’s were not as commonly seen and  certainly not as well known.  Now they appear in fast food restaurants, Superbowl advertisements, and in daily conversations.

Kale is also a well known superfood that is characteristic of a healthy lifestyle. Its’s appearance of turning smoothies green gives people the satisfaction of visualizing their healthy choices.  Kale is a seaweed that is rich in antioxidants. But why has our culture made such a big deal about it?  Many Asian countries have been eating seaweeds as a common part o their diet for centuries.

So a superfood is really just a healthy food that we label as being highly nutritious. What we value as nutritious is based largely on our biological needs for a variety of proteins, sugars, and minerals.  So really, a superfood is just a healthy food that stands out in comparison to all of the genetically modified and artificially produced products that consume our market.  A superfood is what we should be eating naturally, but because of the types of foods available in our culture, healthy, organic foods, that are rich in natural nutrients are classified as something special, the superfood’s.

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2 thoughts on “Are Superfood’s Just Cultural Fads?”

  1. While I do agree with your thoughts that employing the term “superfood” to a food, or group of foods, is mostly a marketing ploy, I still think it’s a good thing for society to see and hear. People, especially Americans, love being part of a group or movement, so fads are highly successful in getting a majority of Americans to hop on the bandwagon and purchase whatever object is being advertised to them. Whether that object is Silly-Bandz, Justin Beiber posters or even superfood Kale and blueberry smoothies. I think it’s better to falsely advertise something that is proven to be good for your health and to over advertise for Big Macs and Whoppers.
    So yes, superfoods might not be as super and nutrient dense as people claim them to be, but without the advertising and fads, thousands of Amerians could be choosing a nutrient-lacking burger over a nutrient-dense kale smoothie, and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all.

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  2. This was a good read, and I understand where you are coming from. It can be difficult and confusing for some who try to eat as healthy as possible and every other day learn about a new super food they haven’t heard about before and feel compelled to purchase it, that could really break the bank if you get too carried away. However, although the term super food is being overused these days, mostly because food companies are trying to get people to buy more of them and increase their profit, I see Beccamiceli pointed that out in her comment to you already, I don’t necessarily think that it is a bad thing because the fast food industries have sort of been doing the same thing since forever, advertising their food in every way possible to attract a larger crowd. This, in no doubt has increase sales for them while also increasing the obesity rate in the U.S. So even if super foods are really just a fads at least it’s promoting nutritious food such as fruits and vegetable instead of the alternative “genetically modified and artificially produced products” as you nicely puts it, that we already consume too much of.

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