Monday, March 12, 2012

Hyperpalatable Industrial Foods

They really do a good job, don't they, those scientists who create the taste and smell of adulterated food to seem real and delicious? As another blogger says, we are "Seduced by Foods".

Research and Development teams have done studies and conducted taste panels that have found "sweet" sells. The more they sell sweet stuff, the more people come to expect it. Sweet is found in loads of savory items too, not just sweet items. Tomato sauces, crackers, salad dressings, mustards, coated chicken products, sausages, and more. Many of our fresh products are also enhanced with sugar, like Butterball turkey, pumped brined pork loins, stewing hens. Our palates are being distorted by sweet.

As much as I am aware of the "deceptions" the food scientists have created, and as much as I am aware of the nutritive value in real foods, there are still times when I am lured by barely detectable smells and/or my mental images into thinking a fast food meal like a Big Mac, a taco supreme, or a take-out pizza* would hit the spot! Taste-wise I'm sure it would, thanks to those scientists who work hard to manufacture chemicals that tease our taste buds, and addict us to their pseudo foods. It is a very difficult temptation to resist! 

The tongue can detect five tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory). While you are probably familiar with the first four, umami is a taste that is relatively new to the Western palate, although the Japanese have known about it for decades. Umami is based on the detection of glutamate, and many foods naturally contain glutamate, although it is often added as well. You have probably heard of MSG: monosodium glutamate is the lab-derived chemical that enhances tastes. It makes things taste more like what they are (or should be). While umami is a taste that is hard to define, it is sometimes described as “meaty.”

The sense of small is probably the oldest and the least understood of our five senses. During evolution it has kept its connections with the parts of the brain, which grew to be the sorting house for our emotional responses, intimately linking the odors of things to our emotions. Think of the smell of BBQ coming from a grill at the BBQ joint down the street. Do you notice they have the grill/smoker outside or even vented outside, all the better to send those lovely smells in the air and capture us for a sale? It's an emotional response, our involuntary response to those smells wafting in the air. Researchers say 80 percent of the flavors we taste come from what we smell.

Our sense of taste is also triggered by sight. Ever notice the ads for foods on TV look SO juicy and tempting? Enough so that we have an emotional response that even overrides the reality of the supposedly same thing we are actually served. We salivate and feel the taste of a preferred food before even touching it. In the end, we believe more in what we see than in our other senses.

I have to constantly remind myself that those "almost foods" or "food-like products" come packaged with "micronutritional" malnutrition, and they can bring on (among other things) thyroid dysfunction, insulin resistance, and poor gut flora... all of which can lead to obesity. So many processed foods aren't really food, but nutritionally lacking "food-like products" engineered to stimulate us to eat more, buy more, and ensure that big food conglomerates turn a profit.

When most Americans eat a "hamburger", it isn't really meat they are eating. It's a "flavorless, factory-formed protein matrix for sugar and soy oils engineered to induce higher consumption".  Source

* I do eat pizza... but home-made, with real aged raw-milk cheese rather than pseudo "processed" cheese... tomato sauce from my garden without any artificial ingredients; true pepperoni that even real Italians would recognize rather than that imitation stuff made just for pizzas; fresh organic vegetables (onion, peppers) and mushrooms for toppings, and NO GMO soy or canola anywhere in sight.

My hamburgers are local grass-fed beef, and the condiments are lacto-fermented, home-made without all that sugar, although I think you can now buy good quality condiments with a dedicated search. I did look in the natural foods store yesterday for a mayonnaise without GMO soy or canola oil. None to be found.


  1. when we get a hunger for fast food we both laugh and say that we've "become senseless victims of marketing!" and then we hope it goes away!


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