I was traveling last week and read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how our foods are getting blander. The author of the article, Mark Schatzker, also the author of the book, The Dorito Effect, says that diets come and go and ultimately don’t work because we are not addressing the real issue which is the divide between flavor—the tastes we crave—and the underlying nutrition.
Schatzker states, that since the late 1940s, we have been slowly leeching flavor out of the food we grow. Ask your grandparents or parents depending on your age, if strawberries or tomatoes were tastier and sweeter when they were kids as compared to now? It is animal nature that we crave certain food so that we will get the nutrition that we need to grow and repair our bodies.
So why are our foods blander? It has been shown that spinach in 1950 had way more iron in it than it does now. The same has been seen in all the nutrients found in tomatoes. The problem is we are trying to produce more crops on a given acre of land than nature intended. In doing so, we are taking raw materials out of the soil before they can be replaced by nature. We have not been satisfied with the size of the crops so we alter them so they grow larger. To top it off we have created disease resistant crops. What we are really saying is that nature got it wrong. As crops become more productive, affordable and disease resistant they lose their nutrition and in turn their taste.
To compound matters, we have created processed foods like salad dressings, ketchup, bottled sauce and the like to drown our bland food in. Many of the ingredients that make these foods taste good to us are created in a lab artificially. Even worse we take the flavors we crave and sprinkle them on so called foods that have no nutrition in them at all, like snack chips (potato, corn….) and sodas. Schatzker points out that today’s junk food aisle is over flowing with the flavors that are disappearing like tomato, strawberry, blueberry, and cherry to name a few.
What can we do? Spend your food dollars on good organic food. If possible, grow your own crops, especially heirloom crops as each and every year there are many of these crop varieties that just disappear. I have found that my tastes have changed. I removed most of these artificially processed foods and my taste has improved and is more sensitive. So, try eating good quality foods with less salt, sugar and store bought sauces and in a few weeks, you will begin to need less of all that extra artificial flavor. Over time, avoiding the artificial foods will allow your tastes to adapt to real foods again.