Healthy food is one of the keen necessities of life because it has a direct impact on the health of the individuals. But, preparing food and shopping food has always remained a crucial part for everyone because making a perfect food is not an easy job to do. While, if we talk about the visually impaired people so it becomes tougher for them to prepare food and also to keep good care of their health because blindness always makes the preparation of food toughest job. Blindness has impact on many areas of the life of a visually impaired person such as employment, educational attainment, income and ability to fetch the printed information. A number of researchers have made numerous research on the different areas of life for blind people but unfortunately a very limited research is made on the relationships of food and blind people. Due to the limited research, limited products have been innovated in the food sector for blind people. And, if we talk about the difficulty level of working in kitchen for blind people so there is no doubt that it becomes very difficult for blind people to work in kitchens due to a number of reasons. Some of the reasons are that a blind person cannot easily measure or cannot adjust the knob of the oven or cannot take precautionary measures while cooking due to the blindness.
Some of the new inventions that have been made in the kitchen accessories have made the cooking food easier for blind people and now even blind person can easily cook for himself/herself. Blind people have a unique and challenging relationship to food and still many of them have become successful cooks by adopting a number of specific strategies and tools for buying, storing, preparing and consuming food. They are able to be independent and enjoy food much as sighted people do. However, there remain several areas in which new strategies and tools could ease and enhance the relationship of vision-impaired individuals to food. The thesis statement can be proofed by a number of arguments which are defined in the below sections of the paper.
Factors affecting the eating patterns of blind people
According to the study made on the eating patterns of blind people, there are a number of factors which influence the eating patterns of blind people and some of them are as follows:
- Partner status
- Socio-economic variables
Men and women have different food behavior and according to the study made in 1998, women have more proper routine than that of men and the factors of food such as nutrition, cost and also weight control are those factors which are more valued by the women than men. While, if we talk about the age then older people have more attention towards the proper food and always takes good care of their food routine. Partner status also have an impact on the eating patterns of blind people because a number changes in food habits occurs during the transition from single to married. It is more likely that couples have a sound evening meal while singles does not pay much attention to their eating routine. Socio-economic variables such as employment and level of education also have a direct impact on the eating habits and also on the selection of food because if a person having higher education and higher pay status then it is more likely that he/she has a proper eating routine and also eats health food while those having low income and also lower education have poor eating habits and it is also more likely that their food menu also have unhealthy food.
Challenges in shopping food for blind people
One of the keen aspect of the relationship of food and blind people is the shopping for food because visually impaired persons cannot do the shopping alone for food preparation due to the blindness. Some of the methods which are used by the blind people for food shopping includes the “big shop”, “small shop”, “someone else does the shopping,” and “e-shopping”.
Big shop includes shopping for food by making an actual trip to the store and by purchasing the food with an intention to last for almost two to six weeks. In big shop, blind people make the visit once in a month an purchased the food items for the whole month while, it is used by only those people who have a good pay source and can afford the big shop while if we talk about the small shop then it includes the shopping of food articles which are necessary to make the food. This method is used by those persons who have a relatively lower income status and cannot use the big shop methodology. Third methodology includes the “someone else does the shopping” in which a family member or a friend do the shopping for blind people. It is also used by a number of people because in this type of methodology, blind people does not have to visit the stores and mall in person.
Fourth methodology is used by those blind persons who are computer literate and have the access to the internet and also to the technology specially designed for the blinds by which they can buy online from the stores. This methodology is used only by those persons who have the access to internet and knows how to use the computer and have dome some courses on how visually impaired persons can use the computer.
While, if we talk about the finding of new food then according to the study, blind people use two methods for finding out about new products. First of them is hearing from a friend or from a family member, second one is the hearing of food products on television and radio. Words of mouth is the commonly marketing technique used by a number of hotels and restaurants and it is also used by the blind people as they learn about new food products from friends or family members. While, blind people also asks from the waiters while eating food in the restaurant or also hearing from the nearby table which makes them easy to order. Second method which is used by the blind people is the hearing of new products from the television and radio because a number of new food products are marketed on television and radio and it makes easier for blind people to learn about new foods.
Problems faced during cooking food by blind people
A number of problems faced by the blind people during cooking and one of the foremost problem is the visual problem. Other problems related to cooking food are accessing recipes, organizing the items in the kitchen, detection of food that had not been prepared accurately, slicing, unable to measure the desired amount of substances, dealing with hot food, frying food, extra time association with cooking and determining doneness. These are some of the problems which are faced by the blind people during cooking and according to the study made on cooking food, a number of blind people does not consider cooking food suitable for them because a number of them dislike cooking food while some of them took guidance from the family members while cooking, some considers that they are self-taught and often cook food for themselves but also for others.
If we talk about the problems as mentioned above then it can be said that these are the basic problems because accessing recipe is a difficult task due to the limited availability of recipe books for blind people. Very limited printed media is available for blind people which makes it difficult, while if we talk about the second problem then there is no doubt that organizing food items and locating them is also a tougher task for blind people because once a thing is located then second time, they also have to do the same struggle for finding the object. Third problem is the detection of the food that had gone bad because they can only detect it by smelling or by feeling it which makes it difficult to cook. Chopping is also a difficult task for blind people because in this way they can hurt themselves by cutting their fingers which is also a basic problem for them.
Measurement of the liquid products is also difficult because during the measurement, they will spread the liquid product everywhere due to the blindness. Setting dials and time frame for oven is also a bit difficult task for them due to a number of reasons. First of them is the accessing of the oven second is the accessing of knob and setting the time limit, third keen problem is the removal of the food product from the oven because they are unable to see the time limit which makes difficult to do so. Frying foods is also a difficult task for blind people because it is difficult to handle brown food for blinds and the second reason is the spilling of the hot food and grease food while cooking. Another problem which is associated with cooking food is the determination of doneness because due to the visual impairment, they are unable to see that food is ready and should be kept away from fire or from even but it creates the problem in cooking food and makes it difficult to do so.
These are some of the problems which are related to the cooking food for blind people. a number of blind people prefers to visit restaurants for food or they prefer already made food because it is more likey that they get themselves burnt and it also hurts them. While, if we look as a whole then it is also not the case that every blind person prefers to rely on someone for food, a number of them have proved valuable cooks and it all has become possible due to the new innovations in the food technology.
New innovations in the food technology for blind people
A number of new innovations have been made in the food sector in order to ease blind people. It has also made possible for blind people to become successful chefs and according to the interview with a blind chef, a number of new tools designed for blind people has made the possibility to cook properly (“An Interview with The Blind Cook, Christine Ha | MasterChef Winner”, 2014). Some of the new innovations include the talking scale, a talking thermometer, a liquid level indicator and also braille labels. Some of the other devices which are made for the blind people includes the iGrill, measuring jugs and spoons, talking microwaves, talking timers, talking labels and liquid level indicators (“Kitchen products for blind or partially sighted users – independent help and advice”, 2016).
Steps towards better future of blind people in food sector
Government of America has also taken vital steps in order to assist better to the blind people in the food sector. Government has passed the “Americans with disabilities act” which includes special services for the blind people (“ADA Guide for Places of Lodging: Serving Guests Who Are Blind Or Who Have Low Vision”, 2016). Government has ordered the public restaurants and other public places owners to provide additional services such as the modifications in the policies for the blind people and also the special menu designs for blind people (“ADA Guide for Places of Lodging: Serving Guests Who Are Blind Or Who Have Low Vision”, 2016). The steps taken by the government and the new innovations in the food sector has made much easier for blind people to make career in the food sector. Now blind people can easily cook food by using the new utensils designed for blind people and it also have lessen the challenges for the blind people. In this way, they can take better care of their health and can easily utilize the new tools.
If we conclude from the above given arguments in accordance with the thesis statement then there is no doubt that there are still many areas in the food sector for blind people which needs attention. There is no doubt that the new innovations in the technology has made much easier for the blind people to cook food and also made their career as a professional cook but still a number of them considers it a difficult job and it can only be improved by also applying the new innovations in those sectors of the food which are still lack of new technology. And, there is no doubt that the relationship of blind people to food is still complex and most of the times, they have to rely on others for the food shopping and also for cooking.