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Food lovers and professionals agree in the healing and love brought by food

Illustration of paper cut-out people holding hands with food in the background

When it comes to culture, science and people, food is an underlying theme. Students and faculty alike share how food helps them share their cultures and become a more tolerant community.

Fred Parker, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Business & Government and Center for Hospitality and Tourism, said, “When you immerse yourself in the culture and try new things, you never know what you’re going to love unless you try [new food]. You may try something and absolutely hate it, but then you know that you don’t like it.”

According to Parker, living in Hawaii and being exposed to the integral part that food plays in most events hosted on campus gives students an opportunity to experience and participate in Hawaiian culture and the Spirit of Aloha.

“You cannot go to a gathering in Hawaii without food being present. It soothes us when we’re in pain, and it makes us happy when we taste things we love. We are often with those we love when we are eating food … Food is synonymous with the celebrations and joy in our life a lot of the time.”

Zero Wu, a freshman from Taiwan studying human resources, said having food at clubs and potlucks not only brings more people to the event, but also provides them with ways to meet people they may not have met before. “I think many people come because food helps us to know more about each other, and food gives us chances to know other people,” Wu commented.

Parker shared first-hand experiences with food and its connecting powers. He said his first encounter with special events celebrated by food was with his father. He said this experience helped him and his father come closer together. He said he understands why events should be celebrated with food.

“He made a big event of it and made sure that I understood they made Caesar salad from scratch, they made flaming cherries jubilee. So, at a very young age, I had this appreciation of food and beverage,” Parker shared.

Parker is an avid traveler and said he tries different foods every time he goes out to eat. Through this, he has been able to try foods like iguana and make memories with his family.

“There are other things you try that you may not like initially, but then you might grow to love [those foods]. I think variety is the spice of life, so you have to try things in order to fully appreciate everything [life has] to offer.

“Plus, I think it helps you learn about cultures. It helps you learn about the people … It helps you experience sensations, feelings, and smells that you’ve never had before, and that’s what makes life worth living,” Parker commented.

Similarly, Chef Spencer Tan, who is the executive chef of the Club and Food Services of BYUH, shared food not only connects us to different cultures and people, but also it relates to science.

Tan said he has a small garden at home, where he uses home-grown herbs for medicine. “I have learned so much because I am very interested in food science. Food is medicine … What you intake and eat makes you who you are.”

Parker added, “Food is a part of who we are, fundamentally [it is] a part of the fabric of our lives.”