Monday, August 15, 2011

Wilful Tastelessness

Willful Tastelessness

 Guest Blog by Sally Symonds, Healthy Life Mentor and author of  “50 Steps to Lose 50kg . . . And Keep It Off” & “50+ Recipes to Lose 50kg . . . And Keep It Off”
I’ve just finished reading Margaret Heffernan’s new book, Willful Blindess: why we ignore the obvious at our peril.  Although Heffernan doesn’t consider food at all, it did make me think about willful tastlessness – how society continues to eat food which both tastes bad, and is bad for you, without really confronting the issue.  It’s true that studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine[1] so certainly part of this phenomenon is chemical, rather than merely logical or emotional.  However, logic and emotion can’t be discounted entirely.  One of the hallmarks of most great chefs is fresh ingredients, not preservatives.  While most chefs agree that fat is flavour, and sugar comes a close second, it’s still so easy to taste the difference between fresh flavours and cardboard cut out dinners.  Or it was.  Now, many people are so used to eating “rotmuck” (as my mum would say) that they’ve lost all sense of what real food tastes like.  Certainly in our busy lifestyles we need to have some fast food options (whether from the food court or our freezer or pantry) on hand, but they still should be real food – not pseudo-imitations of food – and taste accordingly. Willful tastelessness, just like willful blindness, becomes a habit. 
However, the longer we ignore the issues underlying the habit, the worse they become, as anyone who has been on the dieting merry-go-round, getting bigger year after year, most certainly knows.

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[1] Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH, 2007 Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE 2(8): e698. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000698

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