QLD University of Technology
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts/Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Background : “The sense of taste,” write Nelson and colleagues in a 2002 issue of Nature, “provides animals with valuable information about the nature and quality of food. Mammals can recognize and respond to a diverse repertoire of chemical entities, including sugars, salts, acids and a wide range of toxic substances” (199). The authors go on to argue that several amino acids—the building blocks of proteins—taste delicious to humans and that “having a taste pathway dedicated to their detection probably had significant evolutionary implications”. They imply, but do not specify, that the evolutionary implications are positive. This may be the case with some amino acids, but contemporary tastes, and changes in them, are far from universally beneficial. Indeed, this article argues that modern food production shapes and distorts human taste with significant implications for health and wellbeing.