It's Friday Reads time! Today I'm going a little outside of the norm with my pick and choosing a non-fiction read. This may not be for everyone. I know I can be a little (a lot) nerdy, and research-focused type books are my jam, but this one is written in a very compelling style and is a page-turner despite the fact that there is a lot of science and a number of research studies discussed.
One of my areas of interest has always been food and nutrition, so I've read and watched a lot in that sub-genre. So it's rare that a book on this topic completely changes my perspective on something. The Dorito Effect did.
Yes, we all know that artificial flavors (including those listed as "natural" flavors, which this book shows you are no different from artificial) are not great for us. But why? And what exactly does it do to us, our food supply, our children, our tastebuds, our chickens? Why are tomatoes, which used to be so delicious when I was a kid, bland and watery now? Why do we overeat strawberry ice cream but not strawberries even though both have sugar? This book seeks to answer those questions with both history and science.
Spoiler: it's not just about sugar or fat or calories. This is not a diet book. This is a book about flavor and what's happened to it and why.
And it's utterly fascinating.
This book will make you want a really juicy tomato or flavorful chicken. This book will also probably make you angry. It made me angry (not at the book but at what's happened to our food.)
So if you want the curtain pulled back on the things we eat, I highly recommend it. If you don't want to look at your Doritos or vegetables or meat differently, then maybe pass it by.
About the book:
A lively argument from an award-winning journalist proving that the key to reversing America’s health crisis lies in the overlooked link between nutrition and flavor: “The Dorito Effect is one of the most important health and food books I have read” (Dr. David B. Agus, New York Times bestselling author).
We are in the grip of a food crisis. Obesity has become a leading cause of preventable death, after only smoking. For nearly half a century we’ve been trying to pin the blame somewhere—fat, carbs, sugar, wheat, high-fructose corn syrup. But that search has been in vain, because the food problem that’s killing us is not a nutrient problem. It’s a behavioral problem, and it’s caused by the changing flavor of the food we eat.
Ever since the 1940s, with the rise of industrialized food production, we have been gradually leeching the taste out of what we grow. Simultaneously, we have taken great leaps forward in technology, creating a flavor industry, worth billions annually, in an attempt to put back the tastes we’ve engineered out of our food. The result is a national cuisine that increasingly resembles the paragon of flavor manipulation: Doritos. As food—all food—becomes increasingly bland, we dress it up with calories and flavor chemicals to make it delicious again. We have rewired our palates and our brains, and the results are making us sick and killing us.
With in-depth historical and scientific research, The Dorito Effect casts the food crisis in a fascinating new light, weaving an enthralling tale of how we got to this point and where we are headed. We’ve been telling ourselves that our addiction to flavor is the problem, but it is actually the solution. We are on the cusp of a new revolution in agriculture that will allow us to eat healthier and live longer by enjoying flavor the way nature intended.