Monday, October 12, 2015

The Dorito Effect : The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

The Dorito Effect : The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor
By Mark Schatzker
Simon and Shuster, 2015. 259 pgs. Nonfiction

Have you ever noticed that your tomato doesn’t really taste like a tomato? Or that eating a pear-flavored Jelly Belly gives you more pear flavor than eating an actual pear? Welcome to the weird world of food science, where flavors are synthetic and we’ve traded real taste (and nutrition) for yield. At the same time, we’ve gotten really good at making junk food taste better and better. This book illuminates the unforeseen consequences (obesity, compulsive overeating, etc.) we all experience when junk food has more flavor than actual food.

This book was an eye-opening explanation of the food desert most of us live in today, and how we got here over the last 75 years. All of this crazy tinkering with food and flavor has, of course, wreaked havoc on our bodies and brains. This book was a fun, quick read that helped me understand much better my own attitudes about food, and how I can find fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats that actually taste like they’re supposed to: delicious, complex, and satisfying (no salad dressing required).



Breanne said...

"The Dorito Effect" argues that eating "real" foods - i.e. foods not manipulated by flavorings or decades of breeding for yield rather than flavor - will better nurture and satiate our bodies and ultimately lead to better health (and less pounds). He cites a lot of interesting research to back up this argument and appeals to common sense, but you can't help but feel that he does over-simplify the problem of food in America a bit too much. There are larger issues of economics and sustainability, cultural habits, marketing manipulation, and environmental issues that he doesn't address much if at all. He lays the blame of food issues solely at the feet of "flavor," which is problematic, but overall an interesting argument. Although he doesn't have all the solutions, I think his book does more to further the conversation about food than to solve all of our problems.

This book had a lot of good information, mentions specific interesting studies, and presented its info in a narrative style (more so than "Salt, Sugar, Fat" which I found too repetitive). I also found it to be very motivating, feeling the same inspiration I felt after reading Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food," (their conclusions are very similar). However, one downside is that this author comes across occasionally as condescending, and will probably alienate a good portion of people who could benefit from this book with his off-putting observations of people who are overweight or obese. Despite the issues here, any book that engages us in conversations about modern food and the food industry, including health problems that come as a result, is valuable for us as consumers to read. If you are looking for motivation to try to eat better or find solutions to break out of an unhealthy eating rut, this book is highly recommended.

Amy said...

In order to eat healthier, we are told to eat a wide variety fruits and vegetables, less processed food, etc, but we don’t often think about how flavor plays a role in nutrition. I this book, author Mark Schatzker investigates the link between flavor and nutrition. With in-depth research, Schatzker supports the idea that our brains have evolved to eat naturally flavorful foods in nature. The modern food industry’s manipulation of flavor by adding artificial flavor to otherwise bland food is tricking our brains into craving processed food. But, according Schatzker’s evidence, our addiction to flavor is the solution to this problem. By selecting and consuming the most naturally flavorful whole foods, our cravings will be satiated, our bodies healthier, and our lives better.

This book gave me a lot to think about. While I agree with many of Schatzker’s conclusions about food and how to eat it, I did not like the way he arrived at those conclusions. Much of his narrative is alarmist and derogatory, and he often ignores certain factors that play in to overall health, and I prefer the research and tone of authors such as Michael Pollan or Dan Buettner. Nevertheless, the ideas and research presented in this book are unique and important enough to give The Dorito Effect a try.