The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods of data
collection and analysis. It was conducted in two stages; a preliminary
study and a main study. Ethical approval for the study was granted by
the University of Bradford Ethics Committee.
It was intended that a questionnaire would be used to collect data
from three different ethnic groups living in West Yorkshire regarding
their taste perceptions of five selected herbal drugs, which would to
be known to and used by all three groups.
In order to choose the most appropriate herbal drugs and ethnic
groups for this study, and also to pilot the questionnaire, a
preliminary study was conducted.
The preliminary data collection involved a survey across five
different ethnic groups of people living in the Leeds and Bradford
area. Between eight and twelve informants were selected from each of
the following ethnic groups: English, Caribbean, Chinese, Gujarati, and
Kashmiri. The informants were asked to free-list ten herbal drugs they
commonly used and to describe their tastes. These selections were then
categorised and cross referenced; the aim was to identify 5 herbs
commonly used by at least three ethnic groups.
During this stage a structured questionnaire was designed and
piloted for use in the main study. The aim of the questionnaire was to
collect demographic variables in order to enhance comparative analysis.
The results showed major differences in the use of herbal drugs
between the Chinese and Caribbean groups and the other groups. Since
the aim of the project was to assess cross-cultural differences in
taste perceptions and the medicinal use of commonly used herbal drugs, whose use had to be shared across all the ethnic communities, only the three "closest" groups were considered for the main study: Kashmiris (K), Gujaratis (G), and English (E).
From 46 freelisted herbal drugs, only those five, which were more
commonly cited across all three groups were considered. They included:
cinnamon (the dried bark of Cinnamomum verum, Lauraceae), mint (the leaves of Mentha spp., Lamiaceae), garlic (the bulbs of Allium sativum, Alliaceae), ginger (the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, Zingiberaceae), and cloves (the dried flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, Myrtaceae).
A similar type of analysis was carried out for the terms used to
describe the taste perceptions associated with the named herbal drugs.
From all cited terms (40),, the expressions selected included those
which were more ubiquitously used to define the taste of the five
selected botanicals; these were "bitter", "sweet", "salty", "sour",
"spicy", and "bland". The term "hot" was not considered, because in
many cases it was used as a synonym for "spicy".
The three selected communities
The Kashmiri population in Northern England migrated to the UK from
the 1950s onwards, from the highly disputed region of Kashmir. Kashmiri
is a Dardic language belonging to the Indo-Iranian subgroup of the
Indo-European languages. It is estimated that there are approximately
five million Kashmiri speakers worldwide . The Kashmiri ethnic group is the largest minority ethnic group living in the Bradford area.
The Gujarati people in Northern England were for the most part born
in India or Eastern Africa (to families, who had previously migrated
from Western India), and came to Britain in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Gujarati is an Indo-Iranian language, which is part of the greater
Indo-European language family. It is estimated there are 46 million
speakers of Gujarati worldwide .
Finally, the English autochthonous population in Western Yorkshire
belong to the North English group, speaking varieties of non-rhotic
Northern English (Yorkshire dialects).
A sample of 274 members from the English, Gujarati and Kashmiri
communities were randomly selected in Bradford, Leeds and Dewsbury, and
interviewed in public locations, i.e. shopping centres, mosques or
local community centres over a period of three weeks in March 2006,
using a questionnaire that was piloted during the preliminary study.
Interviewees were specifically asked to define the taste of each of the
five herbal drugs selected for this survey, and to name their perceived
medicinal properties or uses. The age, gender and ethnic background of
each participant was recorded.
The characteristics of the chosen sample are reported in Figure 1,
which graphically illustrates a reasonable balance in the number of
people recruited to the study across the three different groups; 36%
English (n = 99), 34% Kashmiri participants (n = 94) and 30% Gujarati
participants (n = 81). Overall 118 participants were male (43%) and 156
participants female (57%). Women were a majority representation within
two ethnic groups (English and Kashmiri) whereas males were a majority
in the Gujarati ethnic group. Participant age was recorded across 6
the close of each interview participants were invited to mention
anything else they had in mind regarding their taste perceptions or
their knowledge of herbal drug use that could bring to light new pieces
Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and cross tables in
the 'Statistics Package for Social Sciences' (SPSS). Graphs were
produced in Microsoft Excel (MS Excel).