Mark Schatzker's The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor is a quick and easy read, but while the science is presented simply and effectively, the ideas themselves are not easy to digest . . . especially for a chip lover like me; here are some of the ideas (sans science, if you want that, read the book) in a proverbial nutshell:
1) much of our food has become bland, because we breed for the highest yield, the most pest-resistance and the best supermarket appearance . . . this as true for chicken as it is for broccoli and tomatoes . . . and the stuff in the book on chicken is pretty horrific . . . the chickens we are eating are abnormal genetically altered infants that grow at such a rapid rate that if you put it in human terms a two month human infant would weight 660 pounds . . . because of this the meat lacks flavor and nutrition, the flesh is watery and doesn't contain any of the good fats that more mature meat contains;
2) chicken used to be loaded with flavor-- especially older birds-- and there were varieties of chicken-- some for frying, some for broiling, some for stew-- but now all chicken is flavorless and has to be flavored post-slaughter, marinated and rubbed and coated and spiced;
3) we desire flavor because flavor indicates nutrition, but artificial and added flavors trick our brain into thinking we are getting a variety of food when we are not;
4) our body will keep eating these junk foods because our gut is waiting for the secondary compounds-- the fiber and vitamins and minerals and antioxidants-- which signal that we've had enough . . . you can eat enough McDonalds or potato chips to make yourself sick, but you can't do this with radicchio;
5) there is hope: people are trying to breed heirloom tomatoes for higher yield; it's possible to get a real chicken if you try hard enough; and kale and arugula have become very popular . . . Schatzker's advice is to try new natural foods, even if it's just a nibble of kale or mackerel; seek flavorful real foods; eat meat from pastured animals; avoid synthetic flavor technology; organic doesn't always equal good; use herbs and spices to complement food, not to cover up the blandness; don't pop vitamins; eat dark chocolate, drink wine and craft beer; find amazing fruit and give it to your kids; and demand better tasting chicken, strawberries, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, beef, etcetera . . . if you demand flavor, it will come, and with good flavor comes micronutrients and all kinds of other good things . . . and if you take one thing away from this post, it should be this: the lemon/lime flavoring in Sprite will NOT cure scurvy.