Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 210 Changing your palate could be a radical political move

I've talked in this blog before about David Kessler's The End of Overeating. Kessler is a former US Surgeon General who set out to understand why he always bought two huge chocolate chip cookies and then obsessed about them until he had eaten them both. While he does talk some about addiction and our inner workings that lead to that food obsession, he spends a lot of time talking about the food industry and how they have shaped our cravings and our palates to lust after salt, sugar, and fat.

I won't go into the details here (his book is very accessible and well worth reading if you struggle with food) but our mouths basically have become addicted to salty, sugary, smooth foods that don't take much chewing. They just slide on down. Much to the delight of our mouths and the delight of the restaurant owners, who get us to come back and do it again and again and again.

You may remember me mentioning a few months back Kessler's reporting on chicken breasts at most chain restaurants, which are soaked in oil, salt, and sugar and precooked before being frozen and shipped to the restaurant, where they are soaked in oil, salt, and sugar before being cooked and served to us. So that chicken breast is a lot more than chicken. The deception aside, the additional calories and contribution to obesity aside, the whole point is to have food that is so tasty (palatable), in fact hypertasty, that you'll come back and buy it over and over and over again. The chicken isn't flavorful because it's a great piece of chicken, it's flavorful because it has salt and sugar in it and on it. The chicken isn't juicy and tender because it was raised right, it's juicy and tender because it's been tenderized and juiced up with oil.

How food tastes is being manipulated for profit reasons. It's not illegal, it may not be immoral. It's up to us consumers to know what we're getting and if that's what we want.

I don't know if I would enjoy that food anymore. I haven't tried it and I don't plan to. But I do know that my palate has changed. That I like the way vegetables taste by themselves, without sauce. I like less salt on my food. I don't want much oil on my food. I don't want sugar in things that aren't naturally sweet. Call me radical, call me a revolutionary. I want real food, not manipulated food.

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