Are You A Supertaster?

Several years ago I was part of a group who visited a food testing site that was geared toward deciding which products would be added to a grocer’s shelves. It was quite an interesting event; we participated in a taste testing of a full meal complete with testing materials used by the facility and we met one of the managers who explained that the products that appear on their shelves were carefully chosen to meet particular standards. It was a joint effort between the product producer and the grocer to determine if the product met standards, and, if not, what needed to be done to make the product interesting to the consumer.

The most interesting part of the visit, in my mind at least, was meeting with one of the managers who explained how the impact of taste and appearance effected the success or failure of a food product. It was the first time I’d heard of a ‘supertaster’ and it was fascinating to see how many in our group were classified as such.

A supertaster is a person who tastes certain flavors and foods more strongly than other people. Feb 21, 2019

We all know of a picky eater – we might be considered picky ourselves – but do we really understand why that individual might be one? has an interesting article explaining this phenomenon. Check it out HERE.

Some folks have issues with texture, others with heat (which, by the way isn’t a ‘flavor’ but a ‘sensation’) while others are particular about certain flavors.

Personally, I don’t like heat. For me, chili is made with 1/4 teaspoon (yes, you read that correctly) or less of chili powder. Any more than that and the dish is not tasty it is actually an irritant. I’m also the person who uses half the can of chopped green chili in my chili.

I realize there are fans of heat that would find this sacrilege but for many of my family and friends, even this might be too much. 🙂

What I find interesting with this situation is that the foods we do, or don’t, eat have great impact on our health and well being. Food itself has become weaponized. Food = The Enemy, as it were. This creates additional issues when we look at things like roller coaster dieting or bulimia.

Teaching a youngster to eat healthy foods can be tricky if that individual has issues with strong flavors like broccoli or spinach.

Proper cooking techniques also impact the way food is, or is not, eaten. There is nothing more detrimental to teaching good eating habits that constantly producing overcooked vegetables. The idea is to provide foods that encourage consumption rather than discourage it.

When I was a kid, salmon came in a can. We lived in the middle of the country and fresh salmon, not to mention fresh seafood, was unheard of then. Now, it can be found in pretty much any major grocery store. The cooking methods have upgraded, too, so preparation isn’t as daunting as it might have been for those weren’t used to regularly seeing it at the grocer’s.

Julia Child brought an awareness of different methods of preparing a variety of foods and was careful – not to mention diligent – to teach viewers that there were options that provided tasty results with little effort.

I’m inclined to think that one of the reasons we have so much spicy food now is because for many decades farm animals have been raised to reduce fat. Consumers went on a ‘health bend’ requiring less fat on meats and poultry which required farmers to raise stock with less fat. The problem is that fat = flavor. When you reduce or remove the flavor you have to find something to replace it with to encourage folks to actually eat it. Suddenly, spicy foods started showing up in areas where they weren’t a staple.

A similar situation arose with fruits and vegetables. The consumer wanted large, beautiful produce. They weren’t interested in anything that might be oddly shaped. The first, and last, time I tried one of those California strawberries that were roughly the size of a toddler’s fist, the main thing that stood out is that while it was a beautiful shade of red, it had absolutely no flavor.

You see, I was raised in the Midwest where strawberries were raised every year and while they weren’t gigantic, they had a beautiful flavor. So much so that sugar wasn’t really needed.

Speaking of sugar and salt, these preservatives began to be added in what seems like bulk because even though we’ve managed to breed the flavor out of food, the major producers needed to find ways to entice folks to buy their products. Both sugar and salt are addictive. No brainer there, right?

Back to Basics

I’ll share a secret with you. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to prepare. It doesn’t need to come from mass producers if you have access to a farmer’s market. It doesn’t need to be expensive, either.

Good food can be as easy as roasted chicken and vegetables on a sheet pan. As simple as tuna noodle casserole. How about salmon patties served with a great salad? Hamburger Tater To Hot Dish or meatloaf? Macaroni and cheese – without the box or the fancy sauce.

A few years ago I came across some material put out by one of the major weight loss chains. They had collected nutrition and calorie counts of food found at a variety of fast food outlets. Turns out that some of those foods were actually quite healthy when eaten in certain combination.

What this meant to me was the necessity of reviewing what I’d been told for decades about ‘healthy eating’ and the reality of what was available. Earlier this year I took part in Mind Over Munch’s Food Freedom course. It was eye opening!

When you tie all of this together with the supertaster you come away with tools, tips and tricks to help you eat better, build more interesting meals and stop the fight with food. Or your kids. Or both. 🙂

To me ‘diet’ is a constant no win situation. It is non-sustainable. When I look at lifestyle changes; like focusing on less processed foods, drinking more water and less sugary drinks, I see a more sustainable collection of habits that encourage a healthier lifestyle.

What seems to be overlooked in all the hype for the ‘healthier lifestyle’ is that our ancestors lived for many, many years eating foods that weren’t over processed or full of chemicals. They didn’t get boxes or meal plans every month, either.

At the end of the day it is our choices that will help or hinder our success. One step at a time, right?

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