Like most people my taste and eating habits have dramatically changed over the years. Influenced first by family habit, tradition and what was put in front of me, and later by new surroundings, culture and choice, I’ve thankfully now developed a diverse appreciation of food. This greater interest in food travels with me and whenever I go on holiday top of my priorities is exploring local food, restaurants and supermarkets.
Clearly, humans are not the only species with diverse and changeable eating habits. Many species’ diets are constrained by age, geography, habit, environmental pressures and abundance of resources. From monophagous grasshoppers, that only feed on creosote bushes, to nocturnal Anteaters, nature has created a wide range of feeding habits.
The grey heron (pictured here) is instantly recognisable: with its long, spindly legs – perfect for wading – and S-shaped, retractable neck for catching fish. They are a common sight along riverbanks and around lakes and have adapted to thrive in these environments.
The Society of Biology’s 2013 photography competition gives you the opportunity to think about, and share, your interpretation of ‘Feeding Life’. What does this phrase mean to you? What images, or memories are conjured up? Does your mind go to the complex biochemistry of taste and what makes something so umami (the fifth sense which is Japanese for yummy)? Or do you think of the evolutionary pathways that led to different feeding strategies?
Whatever associations you have with the phrase it’s apparent that feeding and photography have a powerful, evocative effect. A taste can transport you to a different place; while an image can provide a moment of inspiration. For me, I don’t know if it’s latent association, genetics or just stubbornness but I still won’t eat a mushroom if I see it on my plate. If it’s hidden within something it’s a different story, but that’s a whole other topic for debate.