ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Abstract

Rituals are common in relation to consumption of food and drink, and are related to psychosocial benefits such as social bonding, affective change, and enhanced consumer perceptions. However, theoretical understanding of food and drink consumption rituals, and empirical examination of their effects and mechanisms of action, is limited. In this literature review we show a need for greater theoretical understanding of these rituals, and especially mechanisms linking ritual performance to outcomes. Such understanding would be greatly enhanced by a holistic model of consumption ritual and the development of an instrument that can be used to study different aspects of such rituals, both of which are currently lacking. We also highlight specific research questions regarding the cognitive, social, and affective outcomes of ritual consumption of food and drink, and the affective and cognitive-behavioural mechanisms that might precede them. We provide suggestions regarding the research paradigms and methods that might suit such questions, and encourage research along these lines of inquiry.
RUNNING HEAD: CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
Consumption rituals relating to food and drink: A review and research agenda
RATCLIFFE, Eleanor1; BAXTER, Weston Lyle2
Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
1 e.ratcliffe@imperial.ac.uk (corresponding author)
2 weston.baxter@imperial.ac.uk
MARTIN, Nathalie3
Nestlé Research, Vers-chez-les-Blanc, 1000 Lausanne 26, Switzerland
3 nathalie.martin@rdls.nestle.com
Declaration of interest: This literature review was prepared as part of a project conducted at
Imperial College London, funded by and in collaboration with Nestlé Research. Eleanor Ratcliffe
and Weston L. Baxter are employees of Imperial College London, and Nathalie Martin is an
employee of Nestlé Research.
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Abstract
Rituals are common in relation to consumption of food and drink, and are related to psychosocial
benefits such as social bonding, affective change, and enhanced consumer perceptions. However,
theoretical understanding of food and drink consumption rituals, and empirical examination of
their effects and mechanisms of action, is limited. In this literature review we show a need for
greater theoretical understanding of these rituals, and especially mechanisms linking ritual
performance to outcomes. Such understanding would be greatly enhanced by a holistic model of
consumption ritual and the development of an instrument that can be used to study different
aspects of such rituals, both of which are currently lacking. We also highlight specific research
questions regarding the cognitive, social, and affective outcomes of ritual consumption of food
and drink, and the affective and cognitive-behavioural mechanisms that might precede them. We
provide suggestions regarding the research paradigms and methods that might suit such
questions, and encourage research along these lines of inquiry.
Keywords: rituals; food; drinks; consumer, perceptions; behaviours, literature review; research
agenda
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1. Introduction
From the small-scale and personal, such as preparing tea or coffee in the morning, to
wider, collective actions, such as annual festive meals, rituals are present in many consumption
experiences of eating and drinking (Askegaard & Madsen, 1998; Douglas, 1972; Jones, 2007;
Wallendorf & Arnould, 1991). These behaviours occur across time periods, cultures, and sectors
of society. Some rituals might be seen as relatively mundane, such as drinking tea or coffee,
while others are usually acknowledged to have more elevated meanings or associations, such as
meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Indeed, rituals are traditionally studied from the
perspective of religion, mythology, and/or the sacred (Belk, Wallendorf, & Sherry Jr., 1989;
Bell, 1992; Matthews, 2017).
Intersections between food and ritual, including food as a sacred or symbolic good, are
addressed by authors in several disciplines (e.g., Fox, 2003; Kniazeva & Venkatesh, 2007), with
food being identified as not only a source of physiological sustenance but as a vehicle for
personal, social, and spiritual meanings (Harris, 1998; Lupton, 1994; Mintz & Du Bois, 2002;
Thomson & Hassenkamp, 2002). Fischler (1980, p. 937) comments that “man feeds not only on
proteins, fats, carbohydrates, but also on symbols, myths, fantasies.” The different foods on a
Thanksgiving or Christmas table are ritually procured, prepared, and eaten (e.g., Wallendorf &
Arnould, 1991), and so too are birthday cakes (Fox, 2003; Rossano, 2012); business meetings are
often conducted over lunch (Fox, 2003); and drinking alcohol is often conducted as a ritualistic
behaviour with peers (Treise, Wolburg, & Otnes, 1999). In each of these scenarios, the
consumption of food and drink is conducted for more than a functional purpose; it conveys
symbolic meaning regarding individuals and/or social groups. As such, consumption rituals are
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important not only for their relevance to everyday life, but also for the insights they afford
regarding the role of meaning in understanding of rituals per se.
Links between beverage consumption and ritual are made explicit in the form of the
Japanese tea ceremony (Anderson, 1987) and Turkish coffee culture and traditions, the latter
highlighted by UNESCO as an ‘intangible cultural heritage’. The preparation of Turkish coffee
involves “several and elaborated steps and skills” (UNESCO, 2013, p. 4), is performed in a
specific way using specialised equipment, and is a significant aspect of social interaction in
Turkish culture, thereby exhibiting similarities to rituals drawn from other domains (Belk et al.,
1989). Consumption of coffee by connoisseurs is described by Quintão et al. (2017, p. 484) as
“ritualistic pursuit of leisure”, and indeed these authors highlight how such consumption is
related not only to outcomes of social connection but also social distinction in the form of
specialist interest or taste (see also Samoggia & Riedel, 2018).
In their experimental paper, Vohs et al. (2013) indicated the positive effects that ritual
behaviours can have on perceptions of food and drink consumption. Beyond this, rituals around
food and drink have received rather little attention from psychological and experimental
perspectives. This review therefore draws on wider literature regarding rituals in order to identify
opportunities for theoretical and empirically testable psychological research on rituals relating to
food and drink. Such study is valuable for enhanced understanding of consumption experiences
and consumer behaviour relating to food (Kniazeva & Venkatesh, 2007; Marshall, 2005; Moisio,
Arnould, & Price, 2004; Wallendorf & Arnould, 1991), which remains understudied (Meiselman,
2013).
This literature review focuses on consumption rituals, with a view to better understanding
what types of rituals might enhance consumption experiences of food and drink, how, and to
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what end. In so doing, we first examine definitions of rituals. We then move on to consider
frameworks of consumption rituals, including typologies, components, and the role of agency in
such rituals. We discuss the cognitive, social, and affective outcomes generated by rituals; and
the affective, cognitive, and behavioural mechanisms through which these outcomes might occur.
Finally, we discuss potential ways forward in order to integrate these areas of research and to
address unanswered research questions, including the need for a ritual framework that clarifies
the constituent components of consumption ritual in a concise and accessible way. In each
section we consider rituals in general, narrowing down to consumption rituals and highlighting
gaps in knowledge regarding rituals around food and drink.
Given the relative lack of experimental and theoretical research on ritual within the food
and drink consumption domain, we draw here on literature from other fields where necessary in
order to illustrate relevant consumption concepts; as such, this is not a comprehensive literature
review of rituals per se (see Hobson et al., 2018, for a review on that topic from a psychological
perspective), or of cultural and sociological practices around food and drink, but rather an
illustrative review of how extant literature can benefit research on consumption rituals relating to
food and drink specifically, and where further empirical research and theoretical modelling is
required.
2. Definition of rituals
The academic literature provides multiple definitions of ritual, with a number of
researchers each contributing different properties judged to be necessary for a ritual behaviour.
One explanation for this may be, as noted above, the long history of study of ritual from a
religious perspective (Belk et al., 1989; Hobson et al., 2018). When considered as distinct from
such contexts, the constituent parts of ritual, and thus a generally agreed-upon definition, become
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clearer: a fixed sequence of actions that convey symbolic, rather than functional, meaning, and
are formal and repetitive in nature (Belk et al., 1989; Fox, 2003; Rook, 1985; Rossano, 2012;
Visser, 1991). In this section we discuss literature from authors who focus on defining ritual
through various necessary qualities, often in opposition to other, non-ritual behaviours.
Belk et al. (1989) define ritual as an aspect of the sacred, which need not be limited to
religiosity but instead pertains to that which is rarefied, or in opposition to the ‘profane’ or
everyday. Ritual is also different from mere habit or routine; the two are repetitive, but rituals
have more fixed and formal constituent actions, make use of artifacts and symbolism, and result
in higher engagement and affective response (Neale, Mizerski & Lee, 2008; Rook, 1985). For
example, when celebrating a birthday, one might participate in a birthday cake ritual comprising
several ordered steps: being presented with a cake, upon which candles are placed and lit;
‘Happy Birthday’ is sung; after which, one blows out the candles and makes a secret wish, before
eating the cake (see Rossano, 2012; Vohs et al., 2013). Fox (2003) observes that the order of
food consumption during a meal relates strongly to ritual; for example, eating savoury foods
before a sweet dessert in a traditional Western meal. Deviating from these set pattern of
behaviours subverts the ritual; for example, eating dessert at the start of a meal is considered
unusual and incorrect, even though it would be eaten later anyway.
The illogicality of such a response highlights the “causal opacity” of rituals (Kapitány &
Nielsen, 2015, p. 13); that is, they do not appear to have functional necessity or significance. The
birthday cake ritual, or the consumption of different dishes within a meal in a certain order, is not
necessary to the act of eating per se. Rather, these rituals convey symbolic meaning about the
context of the consumption ritual, including the individuals and objects involved (Belk et al.,
1989; Fischler, 1988; Fox, 2003). The ritual of singing, and lighting and blowing out candles on
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a cake, conveys meaning regarding celebrating one’s birthday, and positive hopes for the year
ahead, that differentiates a functional cake from a symbolic celebration cake. Recent work by
Vohs et al. (2013), in which individuals were asked to make ritual gestures before consumption,
also draws into question the extent to which symbolism or meaning must always be part of ritual;
some rituals may not have functional significant, but equally their symbolic meaning might not
always be obvious either. As such, the consumption ritual of birthday cake is easily recognisable,
especially to those in the Western world, but the steps involved in consumption rituals for more
everyday food and drink experiences are unclear.
3. Frameworks to describe consumption rituals
Theoretical understanding of consumption ritual has developed in a granular manner, with
little development of holistic or integrated models that examine ritual as a product of constituent
parts. The frameworks that attempt such integration focus on classifying types of rituals, their
outcomes, and proposed mechanisms linking the two, but as can be seen in Table 1, rarely do the
frameworks address all three topics simultaneously. Table 1 lists key examples of these
frameworks, which are examined in further detail below and supported by examples of food and
drink consumption rituals from available literature.
[TABLE 1 ABOUT HERE]
3.1. Typologies of rituals
Ritual typologies focus on categories or types of ritual. As can be seen in the second column of
Table 1, literature focusing on descriptions and typologies of ritual behaviours and their
outcomes provides informative perspectives on what kinds of rituals exist and how they are
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constructed; in particular, their scale, surrounding context, stage in the consumption process, and
level of personal involvement. These concepts are explored further below.
3.1.1. Ritual scale. A first typology of rituals is based on the scale at which different types of
rituals occur, from the individual through to group and societal level (Gainer, 1995; Neale et al.,
2008; Rook, 1985). Consumption of food and drink relates to rituals at the personal, family, and
small group level, particularly with regard to “household rituals” and “mealtimes” as noted by
Rook (1985, p. 254). Rook’s (1985) typological framework of ritual scale is broad rather than
deep; it enables study of the commonalities between rituals from very different domains of
human behaviour, but offers little insight into how consumption rituals in a certain context might
be categorised; for example, those relating to food and drink, or even to a specific food and drink
category, such as rituals of wine tasting.
3.1.2. Ritual context. Rituals can also be typologised by focusing on the kinds of rituals that
occur within a specific context. For example, both Marshall (2005) and Fiese, Foley, and
Spagnola (2006) focus on rituals in a food and meal consumption context, integrating meal type
or pattern, structure and format, social aspects (i.e., actors and audience), and actions or
processes into matrices of the different elements of mealtime rituals. However, context-specific
typologies for other domains of consumption rituals are limited, and the development of a
typology that focuses on one ritual context may not be applicable to other contexts.
3.1.3. Ritual stage. A third way of typologising rituals focuses on the lifecycle of a product from
production to post-consumption. Rituals relating to food and drink may be present during
different stages of the process, from pre-consumption manufacture and production of goods to
actions undertaken by consumers during and after consumption. This raises the question of
whether rituals at the food preparation and consumption stage might alter the effects of rituals or
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processes undertaken earlier in the supply chain, or vice versa. For example, Wallendorf and
Arnould (1991) comment on ritual preparation of food at Thanksgiving as a way of
reappropriating, personalising, or otherwise reasserting agency or autonomy over consumer
goods that have previously been manufactured in a large-scale, branded way. However, a
systematic approach to typologising rituals across the consumption lifecycle is currently lacking
in ritual research.
3.1.4. Personal involvement in ritual. The extent to which rituals are a product of an
individual’s own behaviour, or that of another, provides a fourth typology. First, this concerns
the extent to which rituals are emergent or designed. Consumption rituals focusing on food and
drink, such as Thanksgiving in North America and Christmas meals, are emergent, “guided by
no written liturgy”, as Wallendorf and Arnould (1991, p. 17) observe; they are actions arising
from consumers themselves, often arrived at by consensus as a result of negotiation – and
sometimes disagreement – between the different actors, and as such have inherent personal
meanings for those who participate in these rituals. In contrast, branded consumption rituals,
such as breaking apart an Oreo cookie and consuming it in stages (Amati & Pestana, 2015), are
examples of behaviours designed and communicated to consumers in a top-down way.
Experimental studies of ritual are also designed by researchers, providing participants with
standardised instructions for rituals in order to maximise the likelihood of detecting an
experimental effect; e.g., the rituals developed in experiments by Vohs et al. (2013) in relation to
consumption of food and drink. The extent to which consumers find meaning in these artificially
designed rituals can be questioned, and emphasises the need for ritual design as an emerging,
multidisciplinary area that can engage with multiple areas of food and drink industries (e.g., food
design, marketing, packaging design; see Schifferstein, 2016) as well as academic research.
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The second area of research inquiry around the role of self versus other is raised by the
finding of Vohs et al. (2013; Experiment 3) that watching someone else conduct a ritual did not
generate the same level of positive consumption experiences regarding a beverage (lemonade) as
did conducting the ritual oneself. This finding is hypothesised to be linked to the involvement
felt by individuals when they perform a ritual. Given that consumption of food and drink is
closely linked to social settings and benefits (e.g., Fischler, 1988; Stroebaek, 2013; Wallendorf &
Arnould, 1991), there may be occasions when consumers prepare such items for themselves, and
also occasions when food or drink is prepared for them by others, but it is not clear whether
rituals linked to such differences in preparation of food and drink would have differential
outcomes (Dohle et al., 2014).
Examination of the scales, contexts, stages, and levels of personal involvement relating to
consumption rituals provides important descriptive information about the types of rituals in
existence. However, literature informing these typologies is poorly integrated, and would benefit
from a single framework that unites these different facets of ritual type. Such a framework would
then be able to typologise a single consumption ritual, such as eating dessert at the end of a meal,
according to scale (personal or small group level), context (post-meal), stage (during
consumption), and personal involvement (yes, emergent).
3.2. Components of rituals. Distinct from typologies are the components that together form a
ritual. Rook (1985) examined what happens within rituals, arguing that four components are
necessary to produce ritual: artifact(s) or objects; a script stating when and how different actions
take place; roles for actors participating in the ritual; and an audience in front of whom the ritual
occurs. Artifacts and scripts bear obvious relevance to food, drink, and recipes for the
preparation of these goods, which can function as symbols of the meaning transmitted through
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ritual. The role of edible, and particularly branded, ritual artifacts in the Thanksgiving
consumption ritual is expanded on by Wallendorf and Arnould (1991), who suggest that these
foodstuffs are ritualised through their quintessential and singular associations with the ritual and
rarely with other events; the use of special or idiosyncratic ingredients; and personalised
preparation and service of the food (in the form of recipes) to reappropriate it from its otherwise
manufactured or branded context.
In the context of mealtime consumption rituals in particular, Fiese et al. (2006) propose
three main components that together comprise family mealtime rituals: communication, such as
inside jokes, symbolism, and sharing; commitment, e.g., affective engagements with others and
fostering a sense of belonging; and continuity in the form of inter-generational social connection,
symbolic connections to past and future, and forward planning. These components differ from
those proposed by Rook (1985) in that they refer largely to abstract processes, rather than
tangible objects or people.
More recently, Amati and Pestana (2015) propose a framework which analyses
consumption rituals through dimensions comparable to those put forward by Rook (1985), but
with greater granularity and more relevance to marketing. Amati and Pestana (2015) use this
framework to study a number of branded consumption rituals around food and drink (Oreo
cookies and Corona beer), and in so doing identify seven components of consumer rituals: ‘stars
and guest roles’, ‘context and moments’, ‘meanings and symbols’, ‘frequency’, ‘sequence and
structure’, ‘performance and aesthetics’, and ‘learning and propagation’. The latter property in
particular relates to consumption rituals from a marketing sense, in that it evaluates how
consumption rituals based around brands can be transmitted to others.
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4. Ritual outcomes
Why are rituals conducted, if they do not add to the functional or instrumental value involved
in consuming food and drink? Consumers take time and expense to purchase, cook, or decorate
elaborate birthday cakes, for example, and to present them in an appropriate context (e.g., dim
lights and an audience of friends and loved ones; Rossano, 2012). Outcomes of ritual as
presented in ritual theory tend to focus on change, in three separate domains: cognitive change;
social change; and affective change, and these are listed in the fourth column of Table 1. Extant
theories of ritual often focus on one or two of these outcomes, but rarely on all three (but see
Hobson et al., 2018, for an exception). Behavioural outcomes as a result of ritual are discussed
within the literature to a relatively limited extent, but see section 5.1 for how these outcomes
may occur as a result of affective change.
4.1. Cognitive change
Food and drink are consumed not only for functional or instrumental purposes, but also
because of their symbolic value; i.e., what they mean, and by extension what they signal about
the consumer to others (Fischler, 1988; Marshall, 2005). Rituals can alter this symbolic value
associated with food and drink, as well consumers (Belk et al., 1989; Kapitány & Nielsen, 2015).
Such changes in meaning relate primarily to cognition (thoughts, knowledge, and
understanding). This section focuses on the ability of rituals to produce changes in meanings
associated with consumption of food and drink, and in the way individuals think as a result,
including issues of identity and mindfulness.
Rook (1985) and Driver (1998) proposed construction of or change in self-identity as
outcomes of ritual. Elaborating further on Rossano’s (2012) birthday cake example, the ritual
changes the meaning of the cake from an everyday cake to one that is symbolic of the recipient
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and their birthday. It also identifies the recipient as one who is celebrating a birthday,
transforming their identity from one of many to, at least for a short period, a more special or
honoured individual. But what meaning(s) might be associated with wider food and drink
consumption, and how can rituals effect change in those meanings? Quintão et al. (2017) discuss
the ways in which coffee rituals can help to create and reinforce consumer identities as
specialists or connoisseurs, but it is not clear whether or how consumption rituals might generate
identity-based change for non-specialist consumers of foods and drinks more generally.
Beyond change in meaning, ritualised consumption can lead to change in cognition in the
form of more mindful states when eating. Mindfulness involves being fully present from moment
to moment, with full awareness of one’s emotional states and physical conditions as well as
one’s surroundings. Mindful eating strategies are centered on creating awareness about the
external and internal cues associated with the eating event (Fung, Long, Hung, & Cheung, 2016).
They are based on ritualised behaviours such as manipulating and eating the food in a specific
way whilst focusing on specific sensations (e.g., taste) and thoughts (e.g., how the food was
produced; Meier, Noll, & Molokwu, 2017), and chewing each bite of food a certain number of
times to enhance awareness of different sensory cues and extend time in mouth (Kristeller &
Wollever, 2016). These ritualised behaviours can start before the eating process, e.g., by
presenting the food portion in a specific way on the plate, and eating in certain conditions such as
at a distraction-free table. Further research is needed, however, in order to ascertain whether
mindful states can be generated through broader food-related rituals beyond those associated
with eating behaviour; for example, rituals during food preparation.
4.2. Social change
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Consumption rituals are described by Belk (1988, p. 151) as a “symbolic way of sharing
group identity”, and authors such as Fischler (1988) and Fiese et al. (2006) relate this outcome
specifically to food consumption. Use of specific foods during rituals can convey symbolic
information about the identity of a social group (Powers & Powers, 2003). In turn, consumption
of that symbolic good can be a way to affirm social or cultural identity, and can therefore
consolidate group cohesion; for example, consuming Vegemite at breakfast a way to assert one’s
Australian identity (Lupton, 1994).
A large body of evidence suggests that rituals can create and strengthen social bonds between
individuals and groups (Driver, 1998; Gainer, 1995; Hobson et al., 2018; Kapitány & Nielsen,
2015; Wen et al., 2016), and food- and drink-based rituals are particularly associated with social
connection (Fischler, 1988; Kniazeva & Venkatesh, 2007; Spinelli et al., 2017). Meals, in
particular, are emphasised as the socially ritualised act of food consumption (Murcott, 1995).
Dietler (2010) and Visser (1991) comment on the ability of feasting rituals to generate
communitas or social bonding, and Thomson and Hassenkamp (2002) observed that food rituals,
such as meal breaks, can help to increase group cohesion amongst healthcare workers. Moisio et
al. (2004) and Fiese et al. (2006) both link ritualised behaviours of homemade food to the
creation and strengthening of family identities.
Informal consumption of food or drink, e.g., in the form of snack or coffee breaks, serves
more than a functional purpose; these provide opportunities to bond with colleagues and peers
(Stroebaek, 2013), although the extent to which these breaks are ritualised, and whether social
cohesion is increased by their performance, is not clear. However, as noted earlier in this paper,
coffee rituals are associated with positive social outcomes in Turkey (UNESCO, 2013) and in
particular with regarding to romantic and matrimonial events (Argan et al., 2015), during which
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coffee consumption is used as a vehicle for social interaction. Drinking alcohol at a bar, for
example, can also be associated with intimacy and/or social connectedness (Treise et al., 1999).
Bonding is one type of social change derived from rituals, especially those related to
food; a second is the development and reinforcement of social norms, order, and sometimes even
power or discipline (Driver, 1998; Holt, 1992; Kniazeva & Venkatesh, 2007). Gainer (1995)
comments that social bonding is more likely to arise from rituals within ‘small worlds’, such as
the family, peers, or colleagues, than larger-scale rituals. Returning to the typologies of ritual put
forward by Rook (1985) and Marshall (2005), such small-group settings are relevant for the
performance of rituals relating to food and drink, e.g. during mealtimes, breaks, and snacks.
Rituals conducted at family mealtimes enable transmission and learning of rules or social norms
(Greishaber, 1997), whereas larger-scale community rituals enable the reinforcement of
previously acquired social norms (Rossano, 2012).
Rituals of consumption encapsulated in holidays, such as Thanksgiving, traditionally
generate social inclusion, but Wallendorf and Arnould (1991) also comment on the potential for
social exclusion or segregation through various ritual activities within the wider Thanksgiving
experience; e.g., through who is invited to participate or not. Jansen (1997) also observed that
ritualised food consumption during meals, specifically in Jordan, can be a way to enforce social
segregation along gender divides, and to reinforce the roles specific to those genders. However,
there is a lack of empirical, and particularly quantitative, evidence of such effects in response to
food- and drink-related rituals, which are typically relevant to an individual or small-group
context.
4.3. Affective change
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There is evidence to suggest that consumption rituals, including those relating to food and
drink, can also generate changes in individuals’ mood states. Affect regulation has been studied
as an experimental outcome of ritual in general; for example, rituals are often performed in
response to inferred threats or states of uncertainty in order to reduce anxiety (Boyer & Liénard,
2006; Brooks et al., 2016; Hobson et al., 2018), and can mitigate negative affect after distress or
loss (Norton & Gino, 2014).
As noted earlier, consumption of certain foods can also be used as a way to regulate
affect (Newman et al., 2007), indicating potential cross-overs between consumption and ritual as
a way to deliver affective change. Indeed, Desmet and Schifferstein (2008, p. 295) indicate that
rituals associated with food and drink, such as the “first cold sip of beer after a long warm day’’,
are associated with strong positive affect, while Treise et al. (1999) link alcohol rituals to
increased arousal in the form of excitement. Shack (2012) indicates that food rituals amongst
tribal groups in Ethiopia can serve to reduce anxiety about food supply, and Lupton (1994)
reported that childhood memories of food are associated with feelings of either being in control
or being controlled, e.g., by one’s parents. Vohs et al. (2013) observed that pleasure derived from
consumption of food and drink was greater after performance of rituals. However, beyond this
there is limited experimental research on whether changes in affective states are linked to the
consumption of food per se, or ritualised consumption of that food, highlighting the need for
further systematic study of consumption rituals around food and drink.
5. Mechanisms responsible for outcomes of ritual
The majority of research on ritual has focused on identifying and categorising ritual types
and outcomes of those rituals, especially with regard to the social outcomes of food rituals.
Models of the causal mechanisms linking ritual to such outcomes are relatively less studied and
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occur primarily in psychological research. Where they are studied (e.g., Vohs et al., 2013) these
mechanisms are proposed as mediating variables; i.e., outcomes of ritual that, in turn, generate
outcomes of their own. These mechanisms or mediating variables can be grouped into three
distinct categories that help to clarify how rituals produce certain outcomes: mechanisms linked
to affect, or emotion; those linked to cognition, or patterns of thought; and, to a limited extent,
those linked to the physical actions involved in ritual behaviours. Frameworks relating to these
mechanisms are listed in the third column of Table 1. Given the relative paucity of literature in
this area relating specifically to food rituals, we draw here on wider research on rituals in
general.
There is within ritual study, especially in relation to consumption of food and drink, a lack of
understanding about the specific ways in which affect, cognition, and behaviour might be
involved in delivering ritual outcomes, compounded by the fact that some concepts suggested as
outcomes of ritual (e.g., affective appraisals such as liking or pleasure) may be mechanisms
through which further outcomes (e.g., happiness, social change) can be delivered. This further
highlights the need for a holistic, process-based model of consumption ritual.
5.1. Affect
Proposed affective mechanisms linking ritual and ritual outcomes remain limited, especially
in relation to food and drink. However, those available focus largely on ritual as a way of
generating affective appraisals of control over a situation, which in turn may lead to improved
affective or behavioural outcome states. For example, Norton and Gino (2004) indicate that
performance of ritual can produce an outcome of reduced negative affect through the mediating
mechanism of process-based order; e.g., a funeral service in response to the death of a loved one
(the ritual) creates a sense of order and offsets lack of control (mediating mechanisms) and in
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turn reduces grief (outcome). Brooks et al. (2016) indicate that a pre-performance ritual can
reduce feelings of anxiety (mediating mechanism) that can improve behavioural performance
(outcome). Recent findings by Tian et al. (2018) also demonstrate that pre-consumption rituals
can heighten feelings of self-discipline, which then translate to enhanced behavioural control
over food consumption. Together, these findings raise the question of whether consumption
rituals around food and drink specifically can be used to increase affective appraisals of control,
and thereby reduce negative affect resulting from stress or anxiety, for example, in a similar way
to how food consumption can be used in general to regulate affect (Newman et al., 2007). Such
mechanisms may also explain findings of how food rituals can reduce anxiety in the face of food
insecurity (Shack, 2012).
Liking a product (i.e., a positive affective appraisal) as a result of performing rituals oneself
may also be relevant as a mechanism that leads to further outcomes. For example, Dohle et al.
(2014) showed that making a milkshake oneself resulted in more of it being consumed than if the
milkshake was made by an experimenter, and this was mediated by increased liking of the self-
made milkshake. These authors also note that food or drink preparation performed by a
significant other may also be liked due to positive affective regard for such an individual, raising
important questions about the actors involved in consumption rituals and how their identities in
relation to the consumer may affect subsequent outcomes. With regard to mindful eating,
mindfulness techniques as described in section 4.1 can enhance healthfulness outcomes related to
food consumption, with the effect mediated by greater enjoyment (Arch et al., 2016).
5.2. Cognition
Cognitive mechanisms explaining the outcomes of ritual focus on the meaning of the ritual
and associated components (e.g., a symbolic value of a foodstuff; see Powers & Powers, 2003),
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
19
and also on attention or interest arising as a result of undertaking the ritual. Change in meaning
can be conceptualised as an outcome of ritual performance in itself, but several ritual theorists
also identify meaning as a mechanism responsible for further cognitive, affective, and/or
behavioural outcomes of ritual (Belk et al., 1989; Kapitány & Nielsen, 2015; McCracken, 1986);
that is, performance of a ritual can change the meaning or symbolic value of an individual or
object, which then leads to subsequent outcomes. For example, the ritual surrounding a birthday
cake generates change in meaning of both the cake and the recipient, and this change in meaning
is a means through which social bonding can occur. However, there is a distinct lack of empirical
examination of the role of meaning and how it affects ritual outcomes.
Cognitive states of attention and interest through engagement into a ritual have also been
conceptualised as significant mechanisms through which ritual can generate affective change.
Vohs et al. (2013) found that intrinsic interest in consumption was increased by performance, but
not observation, of ritual, and this interest in turn led to enhanced affective experiences of
consumption. Boyer and Liénard (2006) propose that attention to ritual actions provides respite
from anxiety in the face of abstract threats by way of occupying cognitive resources such as
working memory, e.g., through attention to the scripted, repetitive, and often idiosyncratic
behaviours required to perform rituals. This theory of ‘action-parsing systems’ suggests that
cognitive processing of ritual actions may be responsible for the outcome of affective change;
i.e., that it may mediate relationships between ritual and affective outcomes. Contrastingly,
Visser (1991) argues that the repetitive actions present in rituals, including food rituals, enable
focus on the meaning of the ritual rather than its constituent behaviours. As with topics discussed
above, the limited extent to which these topics have been subjected to experimental study makes
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
20
firm conclusions hard to draw, but the cognitive mechanisms through which rituals around food
and drink lead to subsequent psychosocial changes is worthy of further scrutiny.
5.3. Behaviour
The role of physical actions around food and drink in generating ritual outcomes is
underexplored, but emergent in recent literature. Hobson et al.’s (2018) process-based
framework proposes that bottom-up, perceptually-driven processing of the behavioural aspects of
ritual and top-down, cognitively-driven processing of their meaning together generate three
distinct outcomes: social connection, affective regulation, and regulation of goal
states/performance. This framework is novel in its integrated identification of outcomes of rituals
and the mechanisms through which they may occur. The recency of this framework means that
empirical support is lacking, but its presence aids the generation of experimental hypotheses
needed for model testing, which may in turn aid explanation of how rituals generate certain
outcomes, within consumption research and beyond. The physical actions involved in certain
eating behaviours, such as chewing, may also lead to cognitive outcomes in the form of
mindfulness as discussed in section 4.1.
Further, and similarly to Boyer and Liénard (2006), Hobson et al. (2018) suggest that
ritual behaviours comprising elaborate physical actions can lead to affective change, such as
mitigation of anxiety, by way of distraction (i.e., occupying working memory through
remembering a sequence of steps or actions). The work of Boyer and Liénard (2006) and Hobson
et al. (2018) is not specific to the food and drink domain, but it raises important questions of how
the physical actions relating to food and drink preparation and consumption might be implicated
in ritual outcomes, and whether working memory might be a mediator of such a relationship.
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
21
6. Overview of research on rituals and way forward
Associations between food and ritual worldwide and across cultures are without question.
However, there is a lack of common approaches that can be applied to qualify or quantify rituals
and their constituent parts across different domains. Similarly, researchers in different fields have
identified many outcomes of rituals in general and specific to food and drink, and potential
mechanisms responsible for these outcomes, through both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Despite the plurality of approaches, these outcomes and mechanisms appear broadly
categorisable into four: cognitive (and especially meaning-based); affective; behavioural; and
social. What appears strongly lacking in food and drink consumption research, specifically, is a
framework that integrates these areas, and considers consumption ritual as a holistic process
comprising ritual behaviours, outcomes, and mechanisms. As it stands, existing theoretical
frameworks often focus on one type of outcome or mediator, and rarely consider the different
stages in rituals and their effects. This complicates systematic study of rituals and the translation
of findings from one domain of research to another, e.g., from rituals in general to consumption
rituals regarding food and drink.
The literature examined above highlights several areas for future research that may be
fruitful in identifying what consumption rituals in relation to food and drink look like, what
outcomes they produce, and the mechanisms of action that lead to such outcomes. Below we
outline specific research questions or topics that have arisen as a result of this examination, and
possible ways in which they might be studied.
6.1. Need for a specific framework for food and drink consumption rituals
As noted above, existing study of consumption rituals draws on theoretical frameworks and
concepts from many different topics and disciplines in wider ritual research. A key finding of
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
22
this paper, shown in Table 1 and expanded on this body of this paper, is that there is currently
poor integration between literature that describes consumption rituals (in terms definitions,
typologies, and constituent components), examines outcomes of those rituals, and identifies
potential mechanisms linking ritual performance with such outcomes. There is a need for greater
integration of these ideas into a framework that can be used to describe, explain, and quantify the
complete consumption ritual process, similar to the broader ritual framework put forward by
Hobson et al. (2018) but inclusive of the nature and context of the good being consumed. In
order to facilitate rigorous empirical study of consumption rituals, e.g. in relation to food and
drink, a framework is needed to aid researchers in qualifying and quantifying the various
constituent aspects of rituals (i.e., components, outcomes, and mechanisms of action). Such a
framework would aid identification of existing rituals within consumer experience of food and
drink, and would offer opportunities to propose ritual-based strategies that can enhance
consumer benefits such as change in mood and enhanced social connection. It would also
facilitate identification of the scales at which (personal, family, group, or other) food- and drink-
related rituals occur, and whether the same ritual occurs at different scales or involving different
numbers of actors.
6.2. Personal involvement in the consumption ritual process
Discussion of the nature and constituent parts of ritual identified the roles of actors and self-
involvement as important, but as yet understudied, aspects of consumption rituals. In the specific
context of food and drink rituals, it is unclear whether emergent, self-developed rituals lead to
the same or different consumer outcomes as designed, researcher- or manufacturer-developed
rituals, and whether different mechanisms may be involved in such outcomes. Experimental
comparisons of rituals that participants construct themselves, versus following instructions, may
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
23
shed light on this issue. Similar comparisons of consumption rituals that are self-conducted or
other-conducted may reveal whether agency can lead to outcomes beyond consumption
satisfaction (Vohs et al., 2013) and amount consumed (Dohle et al., 2014). An extension of these
research questions would be to evaluate consumption rituals not only when the good is prepared
and consumed, but also during manufacture and production. Can these rituals also have effects
on consumer evaluations and outcomes, and might they interact? For example, do consumption
rituals that occur when harvesting a raw material (e.g. grape harvest) or when transforming it
(e.g. aging in barrels) into an edible food interact with later, preparation (e.g. decanting)- or
consumption-based rituals to affect outcomes? Teasing apart the individual effects of these
rituals in an experimental setting, and comparing them to conditions in which such rituals are
combined, would shed light on rituals throughout the consumer goods supply chain and their
respective contribution to the final perceived benefits
6.3. Consumption ritual outcomes
Study of existing literature on rituals revealed three main categories of outcomes relevant
to consumption rituals: cognitive, social, and affective change. Within all three there are research
questions yet to be addressed. With regard to cognitive change, it is experimentally unclear
whether rituals change the meaning(s) associated with consumption of food or drink, and
whether such changes can in turn enhance consumption experiences.
Regarding social change, it is yet to be examined experimentally whether consumption
rituals around food and drink produce social benefits such as bonding or social cohesion; rather,
this has largely been examined through qualitative research (e.g., Thomson & Hassenkamp,
2002; Wallendorf & Arnould, 1991). Such experimental study is important to establish causal,
rather than relational, links between consumption ritual and social benefits.
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
24
Finally, with regard to affective change, existing research suggests that consumption
rituals may deliver affective benefits for consumers, but it is unclear whether this relates
specifically to appraisals of the foodstuff being consumed or might extend to general affective
states of the consumers themselves. Again, self-reports of affective appraisals and states within
experimental studies would suit this research question. It would also be valuable to know if any
such change in short-term affective states may translate to long-term commitment to a food or
drink brand as a result of repeated performance of rituals, which would suit a longitudinal
research paradigm.
This literature review has also identified a number of areas where further study of
consumption rituals around food and drink may lead to important applied outcomes. Enhanced
theoretical understanding of how rituals are linked to outcomes, and for whom and in what
contexts, will lead to better design and development of rituals intended to produce specific
cognitive, affective, and/or social outcomes through services, packaging, food design and other
means (see Matthews, 2017, for examples of rituals in service design more broadly). One such
area that has been highlighted in this review is that of mindful eating, operationalised through
ritualised eating behaviours focusing on specific aspects of the foodstuff. Outcomes of such
eating rituals may have implications for public health, e.g., by increasing satiety and reducing
energy intake, offering opportunities to design foods and associated rituals that can help
consumers to eat less whilst still being satisfied (Forde, van Kuijk, Thaler, de Graaf, & Martin,
2013; Bolhuis, Forde, Cheng, Xu, Martin, & de Graaf, 2014). Ritual design informed by
empirical evidence may also help to create or enhance social bonding, and to generate
meaningful experiences with food, such as facilitating the transition from consumption to being a
connoisseur.
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
25
6.4. Consumption ritual mechanisms
In addition to open research questions about outcomes, the surveyed literature also raised
questions about how such outcomes arise as a result of consumption rituals. Addressing such
questions is important to understand more about what drives positive cognitive, affective, and
social outcomes, and will inform better design choices about how consumer rituals can be
created or encouraged.
With regard to affective mechanisms, it is unclear whether certain affective experiences,
such as feelings of control or liking, might mediate relationships between consumption rituals
and ritual outcomes in a food and drink context. In relation to cognitive mechanisms, study of
meanings associated with consumption of food and drink in the presence and absence of rituals
will shed light on how rituals can generate wider benefits. Lastly, the role of the physical actions
involved in consumption rituals merits further understanding, e.g., when preparing a food or
beverage for consumption, in order to understand their effects on outcomes of ritual.
Examination of the role of working memory (and/or other constructs such as distraction) in the
relationship between performance of physical actions in consumption rituals and their eventual
outcomes is one question that might be further examined.
7. Conclusions
This literature review aimed to illustrate key concepts relevant to consumption rituals,
and especially those based around food and drink. Much of the existing work in this field has
focused on describing these rituals and/or ritual outcomes, rather than providing an integrated
and systematic approach to modelling relationships between these two factors by including
mechanisms of action. Study of emotional outcomes of ritual in general has also largely focused
CONSUMPTION RITUALS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRINK
26
on reducing negative affect, with limited but growing attention to positive affective outcomes
such as pleasure and enhanced consumption experience and perceptions.
Study of rituals, and especially rituals around food and drink, has the potential to deliver
positive change in a number of ways. At the level of the product or good, it can help to increase
consumer enjoyment and satisfaction (Dohle et al., 2014; Vohs et al., 2013; Wallendorf &
Arnould, 1991). At an individual level, consumption rituals based around food and drink can be
harnessed to change mood and the way individuals think, especially about their self-identity
(Belk, 1988; Hobson et al., 2018; Lupton, 1994). At a social and societal level, such rituals can
also be used to develop bonds between small-group members, to establish order or group culture,
and even to affect public health (Dietler, 2010; Hobson et al., 2018; Thomson & Hassenkamp,
2002; Wansink & van Kleef, 2013). In these ways, consumption rituals around food and drink
can add important psychosocial value to daily life, and we encourage further study from
psychological, design, and consumer research perspectives in order to facilitate these goals.
8. Funding
This work was supported by Nestlé Research.
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Table 1. Key concepts from relevant theoretical frameworks/models of ritual, separated by focus on constituent aspects of ritual, outcomes of rituals,
and hypothesised mechanisms linking the two.
Authors (date)
What constitutes ritual
Ritual outcomes
Amati and Pestana (2015)
Components
Bell (1992)
Definitions, components (meaning)
Belk et al. (1989)
Definitions
Cognition (sacralisation of
object)
Boyer & Lienard (2006)
Affect (reduced anxiety)
Brooks et al. (2016)
Affect (reduced anxiety)
Driver (1996)
Social (order, community,
transformation)
Fiese et al. (2006)
Typologies, components (food rituals)
Gainer (1995)
Typologies
Hobson et al. (in press)
Social (connection), affect
(self-regulation)
Holt (1992)
Components
Social (order)
Kapitány and Nielsen (2015)
Cognition (meaning), social
(bonding)
Marshall (2006)
Typologies (food rituals)
McCracken (1986)
Components (ritual processes)
McGinnis & Gentry (2004)
Definitions (sacredness)
Cognition, affect
(involvement)
Neale et al. (2008)
Typologies (scale)
Norton and Gino (2004)
Affect (reduced grief)
Rook (1985)
Typologies (scale), components
Cognition (identity)
Tetreault & Kleine (1990)
Components
Cognition, Social (identity,
order)
Tian et al. (2018)
Behaviour (food choice)
Vohs et al. (2013)
Affect (positive affect)
Note. Definitions focus on what a ritual is (and is not); typologies focus on types or kinds of ritual; components focus on necessarily elements within
a ritual.
... At the same time, however, it should be noted that in order to qualify as a (food) ritual (Visser 1991), there needs to be a symbolic element to proceedings (Ratcliffe et al. 2019), as perhaps present when one asks for one's egg 'sunny-side up' (cf. Meier and Robinson 2004), or when one bites the limbs off of Gummy Bears. ...
... It has been argued by many commentators that our preference for eating specific foods in a particular orientation (or way, e.g., as in the case of sausage rolls, Jaffa Cakes, Oreos and the like) can be seen as a very simple kind of personal, or playful, ritual (Hobson et al. 2018;Ratcliffe et al. 2019;Vohs et al. 2013). The whole area of food rituals is a fascinating one: both why they exist in the first place, and why they seem to be attached to certain foods but not to others. ...
... At the same time, however, it is important to stress that in order for a stereotypical or conventional consumption behaviour to take on the status of a food ritual (strictly defined), there needs to be a symbolic element to proceedings (e.g. see Ratcliffe et al. 2019;Visser 1991). For example, many people exhibit stereotypical/habitual, but not necessarily ritualistic, behaviours whenever they eat everything from Cadbury's Creme Eggs through to Oreo cookies (Amati and Pestana 2015;Gallagher 2020;Houck 2016). ...
Article
Many of the mundane foods that we eat on an everyday basis are consumed in a manner that may be considered stereotypical, conventional, habitual or, on occasion, even a playful ritual. There are a number of reasons for such behaviours, and the potential benefits for the consumer are discussed in the case of vertically asymmetrical foods where the upper and lower surfaces differ. Maximizing the eye appeal of the food product, maximizing the multisensory flavour experience and the ubiquitous benefits of ritual to the enjoyment of consumption experiences are all put forward as possible explanations for such behaviours in this opinion piece. Ultimately, however, the paucity of empirical evidence concerning the influence of the manner of eating such ubiquitous foods (right way-up or upside-down) on the multisensory tasting experience is highlighted. This is a seemingly important lacuna in the food science literature, given the multiple competing explanations concerning how such experiences might be affected, if at all, that suggest themselves. Looking to the future, it would clearly be of great interest, given the growing global obesity crisis, to understand whether it might be possible to increase sensory enjoyment and/or satiety by the better/optimized design of foods and/or food consumption behaviours.
... Interactions between people and nature commonly include a high diversity of management practices through which people adequate organisms and other components of ecosystems to secure their livelihoods; these practices are contextdependent on local conditions, outstandingly human culture and environment (Jones et al., 1997;Odling-Smee et al., 2003;Anderson, 2005). Traditional or local knowledge commonly includes complex bodies of information on the ecological context, relationships and behavior of the elements used as food, extensive repertoires of preparation procedures, as well as about their relationships with customs, taboos, rituals, and other cultural aspects (Nabhan, 2010;Tamang, 2010;Ratcliffe et al., 2019). All these biocultural facets can be visualized through the diversity of food products and practices related to it, and provide basic notions about what is edible, where and when edible elements are available, the way these should be harvested, and how they can be improved by cooking, roasting, fermenting, or making it harmless (Lévi- Strauss, 2012;Ratcliffe et al., 2019;Tamang et al., 2020Tamang et al., , 2021Tsafrakidou et al., 2020;Fernández-Llamazares et al., 2021;Gadaga et al., 2021;Kennedy et al., 2021). ...
... Traditional or local knowledge commonly includes complex bodies of information on the ecological context, relationships and behavior of the elements used as food, extensive repertoires of preparation procedures, as well as about their relationships with customs, taboos, rituals, and other cultural aspects (Nabhan, 2010;Tamang, 2010;Ratcliffe et al., 2019). All these biocultural facets can be visualized through the diversity of food products and practices related to it, and provide basic notions about what is edible, where and when edible elements are available, the way these should be harvested, and how they can be improved by cooking, roasting, fermenting, or making it harmless (Lévi- Strauss, 2012;Ratcliffe et al., 2019;Tamang et al., 2020Tamang et al., , 2021Tsafrakidou et al., 2020;Fernández-Llamazares et al., 2021;Gadaga et al., 2021;Kennedy et al., 2021). Fermentation practices are part of the local knowledge and food systems, directed to procure and improve human health and wellbeing, but fermented products have changed the human food supply worldwide (Harris et al., 1989;Kuhnlein and Receveur, 1996;Steinkraus, 1996;Harris, 1998;Quave and Pieroni, 2014;Svanberg, 2015;Sõukand et al., 2015;Flachs and Orkin, 2019;He et al., 2019). ...
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Ecology and evolution are the core disciplines that investigate the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity in space and time. The theoretical and applied studies produced in these two disciplines represent pivotal information to set conservation biology priorities. Because humans represent one of the main factors contributing to land-use changes in world ecosystems, it is essential to include them in theoretical and applied studies. However, most of the current literature in ecology, evolution, and conservation (hereafter called “biodiversity disciplines”) uses the variable “human” basically as the negative driver causing biodiversity loss. On the one hand, by including humans as the source of biodiversity loss, this literature provides relevant information to be broadly used in biodiversity management and conservation. On the other hand, disregarding that local populations depend on biodiversity for a living could hamper our ability to produce socially inclusive theories.
... Interactions between people and nature commonly include a high diversity of management practices through which people adequate organisms and other components of ecosystems to secure their livelihoods; these practices are contextdependent on local conditions, outstandingly human culture and environment (Jones et al., 1997;Odling-Smee et al., 2003;Anderson, 2005). Traditional or local knowledge commonly includes complex bodies of information on the ecological context, relationships and behavior of the elements used as food, extensive repertoires of preparation procedures, as well as about their relationships with customs, taboos, rituals, and other cultural aspects (Nabhan, 2010;Tamang, 2010;Ratcliffe et al., 2019). All these biocultural facets can be visualized through the diversity of food products and practices related to it, and provide basic notions about what is edible, where and when edible elements are available, the way these should be harvested, and how they can be improved by cooking, roasting, fermenting, or making it harmless (Lévi-Strauss, 2012;Ratcliffe et al., 2019;Tamang et al., 2020Tamang et al., , 2021Tsafrakidou et al., 2020;Fernández-Llamazares et al., 2021;Gadaga et al., 2021;Kennedy et al., 2021). ...
... Traditional or local knowledge commonly includes complex bodies of information on the ecological context, relationships and behavior of the elements used as food, extensive repertoires of preparation procedures, as well as about their relationships with customs, taboos, rituals, and other cultural aspects (Nabhan, 2010;Tamang, 2010;Ratcliffe et al., 2019). All these biocultural facets can be visualized through the diversity of food products and practices related to it, and provide basic notions about what is edible, where and when edible elements are available, the way these should be harvested, and how they can be improved by cooking, roasting, fermenting, or making it harmless (Lévi-Strauss, 2012;Ratcliffe et al., 2019;Tamang et al., 2020Tamang et al., , 2021Tsafrakidou et al., 2020;Fernández-Llamazares et al., 2021;Gadaga et al., 2021;Kennedy et al., 2021). ...
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Colonche is a traditional beverage produced in Mexico by the fermentation of fruits of several cacti species. In the Meridional Central Plateau region of Mexico, where this study was conducted, it is mainly produced with fruits of Opuntia streptacantha; there, the producers perform spontaneous fermentation and/or fermentations through inoculums. Several factors can change the microbial community structure and dynamics through the fermentation process, but little attention has been directed to evaluate what type and extent of change the human practices have over the microbial communities. This study aims to assess the microbiota under spontaneous and inoculated fermentation techniques, the microorganisms present in the inoculums and containers, and the changes of microbiota during the process of producing colonche with different techniques. We used next-generation sequencing of the V3-V4 regions of the 16S rRNA gene and the ITS2, to characterize bacterial and fungal diversity associated with the different fermentation techniques. We identified 701 bacterial and 203 fungal amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) belonging to 173 bacterial and 187 fungal genera. The alpha and beta diversity analysis confirmed that both types of fermentation practices displayed differences in richness, diversity, and community structure. Richness of bacteria in spontaneous fermentation (0 D = 136 ± 0.433) was higher than in the inoculated samples (0 D = 128 ± 0.929), while fungal richness in the inoculated samples (0 D = 32 ± 0.539) was higher than in spontaneous samples (0 D = 19 ± 0.917). We identified bacterial groups like Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pediococcus and the Saccharomyces yeast shared in ferments managed with different practices; these organisms are commonly related to the quality of the fermentation process. We identified that clay pots, where spontaneous fermentation is carried out, have an outstanding diversity of fungal and bacterial richness involved in fermentation, being valuable reservoirs of microorganisms for future fermentations. The inoculums displayed the lowest richness and diversity of bacterial and fungal communities suggesting unconscious selection on specific microbial consortia. The beta diversity analysis identified an overlap in microbial communities for both types of fermentation practices, which might reflect a shared composition of microorganisms occurring Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution | www.frontiersin.org 1 February 2022 | Volume 10 | Article 821268 Ojeda-Linares et al. Managing Microenvironments in Ferments in the Opuntia streptacantha substrate. The variation in the spontaneous bacterial community is consistent with alpha diversity data, while fungal communities showed less differences among treatments, probably due to the high abundance and dominance of Saccharomyces. This information illustrates how traditional management guides selection and may drive changes in the microbial consortia to produce unique fermented beverages through specific fermentation practices. Although further studies are needed to analyze more specifically the advantages of each fermentation type over the quality of the product, our current analysis supports the role of traditional knowledge driving it and the relevance of plans for its conservation.
... Finally, over time habits could be imbued with meaning and become rituals (Hobson et al. 2018;Ratcliffe, Baxter, and Martin 2019;Rook 1985). For example, a consumer who habitually consumes nachos while watching their favorite team play may come to associate consuming nachos with an increased likelihood of their team winning. ...
... Consumption rituals are common in the context of food and drink and are related to psychological benefits, such as social bonding, effective change and enhanced consumer perceptions. Ritual consumption has everyday relevance and also provides insights into the implications of its importance in understanding the ritual itself (Ratcliffe et al., 2019). Studies have found that ritual consumption positively impacts people's perceptions about food and drinks (Vohs et al., 2013b). ...
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