What’s wrong with food? For 50 years, we’ve been laying the blame on nutrients—Fat! Carbs! Salt! Sugar! But the harder we try, the worse it gets. Less than a third of Americans are slender today, and obesity is the number one cause of disease. In The Dorito Effect, I argue we’ve been getting it all wrong. The problem with food—and why so many people eat so much of it—comes squarely down to one thing: the way it tastes. Restaurants and supermarket aisles today are filled with fake thrills and nutritional lies.
How much do you know about the flavor of the food you love? Take this quiz and find out!
How many different flavors are you capable of distinguishing?
c) 1 million
d) More than a trillion
In 2014, the journal Science reported humans can distinguish more than a trillion different aromas. Since smell is an integral part of how we experience the flavor of food, this demonstrates that the ability to taste and appreciate what we eat outperforms our other senses.
Compared to the classic heirloom tomatoes, a modern supermarket tomato has…
a) 25% more flavor
b) the same flavor
c) 25% less flavor
d) 50% less flavor
e) 80% less flavor
Modern tomato plants have been bred to produce huge harvests of tomatoes with thick skins and a long shelf life. But the tomatoes are watery, and the modern plant has lost the ability to produce the flavors we love.
According to a study published in the scientific journal Food Technology in 1962, which chickens are the most flavorful and tender?
a) 9 week-old chickens
b) 12-week-old chickens
c) 18-week-old chickens
d) 28-week-old chickens
Older chickens are more flavorful than young chickens.
How old are the chickens we purchase in most grocery stores today?
a) 4 weeks
b) 6 weeks
c) 8 weeks
d) 10 weeks
As Julia Child put it, modern chickens taste like teddy-bear stuffing.
Which of the following ingredients is found in yogurt, pig feed, and cigarettes?
a) bacterial culture
Getting young pigs to eat manufactured pig feed is a common problem for farmers. Flavor chemicals sway them into consuming a food they aren’t inclined to eat. Is that why food and cigarette companies are adding the very same chemicals to their products?
Which of the following groups of foods DO NOT frequently list “natural flavors” on the ingredients list?
a) sour cream and onion dip, soft drinks, powdered gravy, frozen pizza
b) raw chicken, canned tuna, tea, soy milk
c) beer, chocolate milk, tomato sauce, butter
d) none of the above
Natural flavors sound healthy, given that FDA deems them “natural,” but they are very often chemically identical to artificial flavors. The distinction has nothing to do with the flavoring chemicals themselves, but how they’re made. Flavorings are so potent it can take less than a gram to flavor an entire meal.
How much flavoring did the world consume in 2013?
a) 1 ton
b) 2,000 tons
c) 1.4 million tons
According to the market research firm Euromonitor International, the American flavor market exceeds that 300,000 tons and the world flavor market stands at more than 1.4 million tons.