In his book “The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor,” award-winning journalist and author, Mark Schatzker, investigates the introduction of flavor into the industrialized food supply. An investigative journalist by profession, Schatzker’s curiosity about flavor led him to eventually write two books addressing this issue. The first, “Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef” was, as the title implies, about steak.
“I got deep into the science of flavor [and] the science of how we perceive flavor. But I also [asked a] question that we rarely ask, which is ‘Why does food have flavor?’ We think it’s all very simple. We take for granted of the fact that apples taste like apples and steak tastes like steak. But then when you start to get inside it, it becomes very interesting,” he says.
“I would visit a ranch and there would be a field of pregnant cows and a field of steers. The rancher would say, ‘Oh, the pregnant cows are in a field of clover because they need a lot of protein [when] they’re pregnant.’ Cows don’t even know what protein is, so how does a cow know what to eat?
The answer is flavor feedback. They seek out the flavors that bring their bodies what they need. It’s something we are certainly very alienated from … We tend to think there’s an inverse relationship between health and deliciousness. I set out to do that steak book thinking, ‘It might be that the best steak I find is awful for the cow [and] horrible for the planet; it’s like a heart attack on a plate.’
What I found, oddly, was that the most delicious steak was the best for the planet, nicest for the cow and the best for me. I thought, ‘This is not what I expected. This is not what we were taught to expect. Is there something going on here?’ … [I]n nature … delicious flavors guide animals to the foods they need. So, I asked what is a simple question with a very complex answer, which is, ‘Does it work that way for humans?'”
Read more: The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth about Food and Flavour