You know that feeling when you’ve taken that first dangerous bite of a snack that you just can’t seem to get enough of? Cheese puffs, chips, crackers, any snack foods with a mysterious addictive quality are likely ridden with chemical additives that enhance their flavor and swindle you into “just one more bite”. Author Mark Schatzker calls this phenomenon “The Dorito Effect.” Schatzker argues that the obesity epidemic is not strictly caused by the overconsumption of fats, sugars, or carbs. Instead, the 600 million pounds of FLAVORINGS that Americans consume each year causes us to eat way more salt, sugar, carbs, and fats than we would otherwise.
It’s super tempting to choose a bag of Doritos over an apple for a quick snack. But why is this? Why does pseudo-food take the prize over real, nutritious food that provides us with benefits other than instant taste-bud gratification? It’s all about the flavor.
Real, nutritious and natural food is now largely bred and cultivated for the sake of volume and revenue – but not so much for taste. Things like chicken and tomatoes are grown to maturity as quickly as possible in order to maximize sales, but in the process these foods lose so much of their flavorful potential. In the past, we looked to nature’s already developed and perfected products for sustenance. Now, food companies modify nature in order to turn a profit, and this has a significant impact on its taste. Real food has become increasingly bland, and junk food has all the orange-dusted, finger-lickin’ goodness we now crave!
We reach for the cheese puffs because we know they will satisfy a craving for flavor. The problem is that this (artificial) flavor is a concoction of chemicals that convinces us to eat way more than we should. Ultimately, this is what leads us to rack up the calories and overconsume fats, salts, and sugars.
It is certainly alarming to recognize that our eating habits are being engineered by chemical flavorings, and on a fairly regular basis. So, what can we do about it? Because, frankly, Doritos are probably here to stay.
The best thing we can do is to choose locally-grown, whole foods. Do your best to avoid processed foods with any kind of additives.Read the label and stay informed about what you’re feeding your body. Instead of reaching for the artificial flavor-infused snack food, try grabbing a handful of locally grown berries! If you’re doing it right they should have even more flavor than that all too addictive cheese dust.
Check out Mark Schatzker’s new book The Dorito Effect to learn more.
Photos: Creative Commons: Flickr