Sunday, May 31, 2015

We Eat Giant Babies

It was while making a simple dinner that I heard a wonderful interview about food and simplicity that explains a lot about what is wrong with modern food systems. The fact that our food has a system should be cause enough for alarm; this interview puts the problem in specific terms.

The interview was on this week's episode of America's Test Kitchen, which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite radio programs. The episode is entitled "The Dorito Effect: The New Science of Creating Potent Flavor Chemicals to Market Bland Supermarket Foods" and it worth downloading it from the program's rather clumsy web site.

Drawing on evolutionary biology and chemistry, author Mark Schatzker explains the importance of flavor in food, the reasons non-food food "needs" artificial flavor, and the problems that is causing for our health.

(To understand my quirky title, you need to listen to the full interview.)

Spoiler alert: he ends the interview with the observation that "The path to better health is through better-tasting food."  This reminds me very much of the last line of my own recent TED Talk on the future of coffee.

Apparently to download a segment from America's Test Kitchen, you have to download the entire episode. But to do so is a treat. In addition to the main story on flavoring, there is a wonderful story about Iceland, which includes some fascinating insights on the geography of food in general and of coffee in particular.

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