Food: Sustenance for Body & Soul

F is for Food...
F is for Food…

Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!

Food. Food is an integral part of every society, because everyone needs to eat to survive. Even in fantasy and science fiction. It doesn’t matter if they are vampires who eat only blood (it’s still eating and consuming nutrients!) or aliens who absorb what they need through their skin (it’s still eating and consuming nutrients!), everyone needs to eat. 

In some cultures, the preparation and consumption of food be very ritualistic and have significant meaning. Especially around holidays.

Food takes on an entirely new meaning when you have to raise/hunt/butcher/grow/harvest it all, too.

Depending on the type of society you’ve set up in your world-building, not getting the grains planted or a spring garden in – or livestock not breeding and birthing young successfully – could mean starvation.

Flood, fire, or extended winters and rainy seasons can all affect the growth of food as well – and cause famine.

Consider these things while incorporating food into your story:

What types of food, spices, and herbs are grown and produced locally?

  • What types of food, spices, and herbs have to be obtained from non-local sources?
  • How far do they have to travel?
  • If the goods are perishable, is there a way to get them to where they need to be before they spoil?

What would a peasant eat for breakfast, based on what’s available locally?

What would a monarch eat for breakfast?

What do the livestock eat?

What kind of options would a character find available in their local pub/tavern/inn?

Are there any holidays that have traditional foods associated with them?

Are there any holidays with a fast associated with them? How is the fast broken?

Are there any other ceremonies or rituals that have the consumption – or abstinence – of food associated with them? What particular foods are involved?

For Dessert… (In Conclusion, rather…)

Poke through different cultures, especially ones similar to the cultures you’ve created for your world. Look at their traditional foods, and see what you can draw inspiration from.

In more extreme climates, like deserts and tundra, look at why they eat what they eat. Oftentimes, it’s for survival reasons, since those climates are more demanding on a person’s body than a more temperate environment.

Original Image used in header image by Muffet.

My intention is to turn the A-Zs of Worldbuilding into a workbook after the Challenge is finished. If you’d like to stay notified about that, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Please make sure and select the A-Zs of Worldbuilding option!

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About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.