GV Anthropology Club hosts World Foods Night


GVL / Bri Conway

Isabelle England, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s Anthropology Club aims to broaden students’ viewpoints of the world through collaboration, education and community.

Throughout the school year the club hosts several events and invites speakers to help celebrate and educate students about the various cultures of the world. This past week they held an event to showcase the foods of different cultures.

“The anthropology club’s main goal is to build an interest in and explore the various subfields of anthropology for any who are interested, whether they are formally studying anthropology or not,” said Drew Rausch, the Interim President of the GVSU Anthropology Club. 

The club tries to create a space where students can further explore their interests in anthropology and experience other cultures. At this event, they highlighted popular dishes and drinks from ten different cultures.  

“This can take the form of community collaboration events, faculty speaker events, or general meetings where we converse and make connections with newer students who aren’t yet involved in anthropology as a discipline,” Rausch said. “This food event is relevant to our mission, as it gives students an opportunity to explore unique and interesting foods they may not normally be exposed to.”

Anthropology Club Faculty Advisor Dr. Elizabeth Arnold hand-selected the dishes. 

“(Arnold) has kept these mostly a secret even from us on the executive board,” Rausch said. 

The event featured many unique dishes, including chili lime crickets, chicken gizzards, hearts and vertebrae, stuffed grapevine leaves, squirrel pot pie, sheep cheese and herring.

This event was important to the group, as Arnold said food and culture go hand in hand. 

“Food is a big part of culture, regardless of what culture you’re talking about, what we eat, how we get it, farming, collecting, gathering all those key things, is really a big part of culture,” Arnold said.

While students sampled the food, Arnold spoke about a dish she prepared called gefilte fish. The dish consists of poached fish mixed together and stuffed into the skin of a whole fish. The dish is of Jewish descent and is commonly enjoyed on Jewish holidays. Another snack from Israel called Bamba, a peanut butter puffed maize, was a crowd favorite. 

Arnold said it’s important to be exposed to new cultures, and food plays a large part in this process. 

“Well I think that the big part of anthropology is the understanding of cultural diversity, and in understanding cultural diversity it’s really about accepting cultural diversity and it’s very very easy with food,” Arnold said. “If you present somebody with a dish and it’s something they are unfamiliar with or something they wouldn’t normally consider food, it is very easy their reaction is often very immediate and negative. ‘Ugh, I can’t eat that’ and ‘That’s gross, that’s disgusting,’ those sort of derogatory words or very ethnocentric words. So it is a very easy way to challenge those personal biases that we have.”

Alongside the numerous dishes that Arnold and other professors prepared, a few students also brought food to pass. Austin Smart, a fourth-year double major in environmental science and philosophy, brought a dish commonly eaten by the Cheyenne Native Americans. 

“I brought in a chokeberry pudding, which is a dish from the Northern Cheyenne tribe,” Smart said. “It has chokeberries, also known as Aronia berries. They are pretty tart and they have a lot of healthy antioxidants in them.” 

Students were able to share which dishes were their favorites, and many even went back for seconds.

“What you’re willing to sort of encounter and accept, you say ‘Well I don’t care for this, but I understand why it is a big part of that culture or celebration,'” Arnold said. “If you were celebrating within that culture, within that group of people, that’s what you’d be eating, and if you are being offered hospitality and celebration with other cultures then you should eat and enjoy.” 

Those with an interest in learning more about Anthropology Club and upcoming events can find more information on the club’s Instagram @gvsu.anthropology.club.

The Anthropology club meets every other Thursday in LMH 249.