Real Flavors

6 Dec

Growing up, I didn’t eat much in the way of vegetables.  For that matter, I didn’t eat much in the way of fruit, either.

Honestly, I don’t really remember why.  I suspect it probably came down to what kills vegetables (or enjoying vegetables) for most people – flavors and textures.  I’ll also add that the decades of the 70’s and 80’s were probably peak usage times for preserved (canned or frozen) vegetables, which are a far departure from their fresh relatives.

It’s been a gradual take-over by vegetables – but I’ve really taken up more variety of vegetables in the last three months living Paleo.  Since starting Paleo, I’ve added Bok Choy, Kale, Beets, Mustard Greens, Brussels Sprouts, and found more cooking techniques for vegetables I already consumed.  The new additions to my diet have always been consumed fresh, and I’ve tried pairing most of them with other flavors that I know I like.

I think part of this change has been realigning my expectations of flavors.  A recent 60 Minutes story detailed the food industry’s flavor additive company Givaudan gives some insight to why many people may find real vegetables unpalatable.

So what we do is just manipulate them and create with them to give the impression of the papaya, or the strawberry. (Michelle Hagen, Flavorist)

You can probably imagine the intensity right now of a strawberry flavored major brand yogurt.  It has a flavor intensity and sweetness beyond what you get from a real strawberry – so what happens when you substitute the real item back in?

If you eat a lot of fruit, you know that you can have really amazing fresh fruit, good fresh fruit, or mediocre (and worse) fruit.  It’s a law of averages – it can’t all be amazing.  With artificial flavors, they seek to take that natural flavor and push it far beyond what the natural flavor could be.

So back to the original topic – if you are eating fresh vegetables, you have a spectrum of flavors that cover a different range that doesn’t range into the hyper-sweet.  It’s many more subtle flavors (like the peppery flavor of Arugula, bitterness of Kale, or the sweetness of certain squashes, carrots and sweet potatoes) that are easily missed.  If the tongue is tuned towards only towards artificially sweetened flavors – then it’s an even stronger bias to overcome.

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One Response to “Real Flavors”

  1. enigmaedelweiss December 6, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    Our taste buds have been perverted with artificial flavors in processed foods. It is awesome that you’re busting out the greens! So healthy.

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