by Heynia Loro-Cooley
I remember going to the grocery store with my grandmother when I was nine-years old. Shopping with my grandmother was always an experience in of itself, but more importantly was what I learned from her. I remember picking up a packaged tube of pink and blue swirled yogurt and my grandmother immediately told me I could not have it claiming it was not “real” food. My grandmother proceeded to tell me that real food should look and taste like real food. If food is packaged, processed, and filled with artificial sweeteners and preservatives with a lengthy nutrition label, do not eat it!
We are all aware of the large amounts of processed and artificially flavored foods available at the grocery stores. How did we become a society where high-fat, fast food, and processed food became so popular? How have “fake” and synthetic flavored foods changed our taste and perhaps altered our desirability for more fake foods and less real and whole foods?
Author Mark Schatzker has explored the idea of synthetic taste technology and the increase in fake, processed food consumption in his new book, “The Dorito Effect.” Schatzker believes that synthetic flavors in foods have heightened their desirability while at the same time, whole foods are losing flavor. As a result, humans have accidentally programmed themselves to like less healthy foods because we think that’s what all foods (even natural ones), should taste like. Schatzker also mentions that evolution did not program us to get fat but rather we’ve tricked ourselves into craving the wrong foods.
Americans now use 600 million pounds of flavoring every year. Once again supporting Shatzker’s theory of how we are making bland, high calorie, food taste delicious! As a result, our waistlines, heart health and many other obesity related issues have significantly increased.
Are we doomed as a nation to our cravings as a result of processed and artificially flavored foods? Absolutely not! We all have a choice as to what we put in our body…the food does not chose us! Addressing cravings and becoming aware of what we put in our body is key to better understanding how to make healthier food choices.
There is a growing movement in this country to get back to eating real, raw, natural and nutrient dense foods. Reminding ourselves that flavor is about choosing natural ingredients that are fresh and unaltered and not made to last longer or look prettier than they should.
If it doesn’t look like food, don’t eat it! How about trying a little junk food restraint? Choose real food over fake, artificial, and processed food when you can. Savor the sweet and fresh flavors of foods such as strawberries, cucumber and tomatoes. Most importantly, enjoy the many benefits of real natural food.