Book Review : The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor By Mark Schatzker
What do $400 tomatoes and yellow chicken have in common? Ah, I’m not spoiling the book, because it’s a must read.
Probably the most amazing book on nutrition that I have ever read, and that includes my college nutrition textbooks (okay, I admit, those were dry and boring). Seriously, not a boring moment, and finished it in three days because I couldn’t put it down. Schatzker is an excellent writer, and the topic is both well researched and interesting.
I admit, I cheated, I listened to the audio-book, which isn’t really reading, regardless, the information provided caused me to rush out and buy a physical copy so I could check the references (yes, I’m one of those). More importantly, the book made me understand things about fast food I could never understand, because I don’t eat it. But now I know why I don’t desire to eat it.
Very engaging, and eye opening. This book communicates without a dull moment. The author nailed it. I admit, there were a few moments when I paused for just a second and asked, where is he going with this? But I kept listening, and sure enough, the lesson was magnificent. Yes, I even learned more about entomology from this book than I did in college.
Insight inspires insight. This book will get your wheels turning. If you are interested in health even in the slightest way, this book will inspire you to start really thinking about what food means to us as humans, what relationship we have with food, and most importantly, the nutrition that foods provide us, and why that’s mostly non-existent now.
So what is this book really about you might ask? Well… that’s a bit complicated. The really, really short version is it’s about how our food has been altered by us, intentionally. It has been “diluted” as the author puts it. We’ve willingly but unknowingly diluted it, and any efforts to bring the dilution to the attention of consumers has been swept under the rug. Instead of addressing the loss of flavor (and nutrition) in food, we’ve allowed manufacturers to artificially flavor our food instead. We’ve even encouraged it by focusing only on the final flavor outcome, rather than how it got that flavor. And flavor is now altered via lab pipettes, rather than maximizing real food’s real natural flavors.
The author also explains and provides evidence for our innate “nutritional wisdom”, and how the synthetic altered versions of what we have been eating have completely short circuited our natural biology, and contribute to obesity and numerous health problems. In summary, the author does nothing less than tie together plant ecology, human nutrition, culinary flavor, modern industrial agriculture, diet related pathology, food industry economics, the price consumers pay (in dollars, health, and in flavor), and paints an optimistic path forward, despite a pessimistic current reality. And he does all of this in an entertaining and engaging way. Most importantly, the author provides suggestions for how we could correct the current state of affairs.
If you’re a health freak like me already, this book will have you running to your fridge to check and make sure there’s nothing in there that includes “natural flavors”, because as it turns out, natural flavors have nothing to do with natural. Damn, I was fooled again. In the trash the pretend food went.
A must read. Reveals truths that in foresight are not obvious to most people, but in hindsight are so blatantly obvious you think “well of course”. The sign of true wisdom and insight.
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