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Olwen Anderson's Blog

This food tastes strange

Saturday, July 22, 2017
Market by Seemann via MorgueFileThe butcher warned me, as he must have warned many other customers: “This is going to taste a little different”.  I was purchasing a packet of bacon made traditionally – from free range pigs, genuinely smoked (you know, over a fire), and without preservatives. What a relief. I’d had a hankering for bacon but was unwilling to settle for the smallgoods usually available: made from pigs kept in cages, their meat injected with smoke extract to create the flavour and then embalmed in preservative for long use-by dates. It made me think about how real food can now taste ‘odd’; when in reality it’s just that our palates have become jaded by industrial production of food.

Same with celery. A weedy-looking specimen greeted me at the organic stall. I felt a little unsure about buying: would this bunch be inedibly stringy? It was a very dark green and didn’t have the plump appearance of other celery. The farmer shared that this crop of celery hadn’t had such an easy life with a guaranteed water supply, hence it’s ‘stunted’ appearance. The first bite, though, was a revelation: an intense celery flavour, not at all bitter or stringy. I knew that that the stronger in flavour a vegetable is, the more valuable nutrients it contains, so this celery was extra nutritious.  In reality I was actually experiencing  a‘real’ celery flavour.  Like we used to.

Organic chicken is another taste discovery. You might not know that fresh chicken, even free range birds, are routinely chilled during processing in a water bath with chlorine added; but organic chicken is air-chilled. The flavour difference is extraordinary; try it.

It seems we’ve become accustomed to eating foods plump in appearance and uniformly sized, yet short on flavour. And yet taste, after all, is what makes eating vegetables appealing. No wonder people find it challenging to eat enough vegetables. So, if you want more flavour-full produce to eat consider shopping at the local organic market for some less-than-pristine produce that’s actually bursting with flavour. Keep in mind, too, that if you keep settling for less that’s what will fill the supermarket shelves. Manufacturers and farmers will continue to produce the foods people open their wallets for.

What happened with the bacon? As the butcher warned me, it was “different”, mostly in texture. Yet the flavour was sublime, a really smoky, bacony flavour. Like food used to taste like before we began to settle for less. 

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy 'Would you like that fish wild caught or farmed?'

Image credit: Seemann 

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