Me on food

Children often prefer greasy, soft, bland, sweet food.  "Have you ever heard a 10-year-old complain that the sauce was not sufficiently complex?" he asked.  "You have families going to places like McDonald’s simply because the kids want them."

And then Victor Niederhoffer chimed in.  Here is the full story, from today’s New York Sun.

Comments

Kids food preferences are instinctive and evolved. They like sweet, salt and fat.

1. Sweet because the only natural sugar is in fruit (honey is very rare); 2 Salt because it is essential for life yet rare in the environment we evolved in; 3. Fat because it is the densest source of energy, and wild animals have very little subcutaneous fat anyway (most of the fat in game animals is in cell membranes, and is the 'healthy' kind of fat).

Other tastes are aquired and cultural, and the less instinctively appealing, the higher in status: for example coffee and leaf vegetables are bitter because full of toxins, Stilton cheese is putrid, people have to learn to enjoy dry wines etc.

'Junk' food is engineered to appeal to our evolved food preferences for sweet, salty and fatty food. This isn't a bad thing, especially if you want kids to finish their food, but we obviously need to learn to resist our inclinatino to 'pig out' on junk food three times a day every day, just as we have to resist the desire to spend all our waking ours reading blogs....

I've often wondered hwere the need for sour taste in food comes from. Salt: important nutrient. Sweet: carbohydrate calories. Bitter: poison. Savory: protein. FAt: calories. What nutritional need is satisfied by vinegar or lemon juice?

and how Hungarian food was still the best cuisine in Eastern Europe, partly because Hungary never really abolished the free market.

As a Hungarian, I beseech you to expound on this. With regards to the changes in Hungarian food pre-1989 and post-1989, take a gander at this piece:

http://www.pestiside.hu/archives/dining_news_iii_a_remembrance_of_paprikas_csirke_past001965.php

If America's bland food is often 'wielded as a stick against capitalism' then surely a corresponding dig at Russia's pre-glasnost cuisine is in order - or the use of MSG in China? And if the French or Italian rural market economy is the comparison then Ireland pre 'Celtic tiger' should also be thrown into the mix. Irish food was rarely tasty until very recently.
It seems to me that the overriding cause of what is seen as American food being of low nutrient value is that Americans embraced convenience food more than many other nations. The industrialisation of food production has been taken further in the US than most other places, and earlier.
PS I don't have the stats to hand but I know that the French are one of the biggest per capita users of MacDonals - more so than the UK. Perhaps they have the right balance - widely enjoying fast food as a rare change from more nourishing fayre, or maybe it's because they serve alcohol in French MacDonalds...

Humans generally like to start with simple things and gradually increase complexity.

Children like simple things: simple food, simple music, simple books, simple movies.

Simple food is typically either sweet, salty, fatty, doughy, or easy to eat.

Childern have trouble chewing most of the time because almost as soon as they get a set of baby teeth they start loosing them to get aldult teeth. Therefore soft is good as well as sweet,salty and fat.

I think americans eat the unheathy fast food becouse it is most aviable and with the buying power of the big fast food chains it is cheeper to eat the unhealty stuff than the healthy. Ithink if compaines agresaviley marketed heather food even at a higher price most americans would chose the heathy way. But untill then many americans will chose the unheathy way. If other countries had the same options as we do in the way of fastfood I think they would eat just like us.

Re: Tyler's comment about "foie gras and French cheese for 30 days in a row"

Too bad McDonald's didn't sponsor a counterpoint to "Super Size Me": Enlargez-Moi Beaucoups

This subject reflects on the past court cases brought out about the Mcdonalds corporation and its affect on kids and their diets. The case was discussing how two young girls had gained excessive weight and were both diagnosed with diabetes and heart problems due to this food. The Judge made an excellent point though in stating that it is not McDonalds Fault that they were over weight just for the mere fact that Mcdonalds forced there food on no one and they had the freedom of choice in where they should purchase their food from.

May be kids know something we don't? Also I remember reading once something about preferences for food flavors being related to time of weaning. Kids weaned too early preferred savory stuff and those weaned too late preferred sweet or milky items. Or perhaps it was the other way round...

Regarding: "The Judge made an excellent point though in stating that it is not McDonalds Fault that they were over weight just for the mere fact that Mcdonalds forced there food on no one and they had the freedom of choice in where they should purchase their food from."

Actually, the fascinating part of that Judge Sweet's decision was his warning to McDonald's that a future suit might succeed if it turns out that the company has hidden information about it's products and their healthfulness, much as tobacco companies hid their knowledge about addictive properties of nicotine: "For instance, Chicken McNuggets, rather than being merelychicken fried in a pan, are a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook." That doesn't leave McDonald's entirely unscathed.

http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/mcdonalds/plmnmcd12203opn.pdf

Michael Blowhard, you are correct that tastes change with age. Here's the explanation the Kid's Health website provides to its youthfuil readers:

"People are born with about 10,000 taste buds. But as a person ages, some of his or her taste buds die. (An old person may only have 5,000 taste buds!) That's why some foods may taste stronger to you than they do to an adult."

http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/body/tongue_noSW.html

Perhaps it's not that kids prefer bland food. Instead, adults just suffer from years of tastebud abuse. I'm certain that five decades of gumbo and beer had some impact on my digestive tract - and on my brain as well.

How can McD's coffee prevent accidents? and where is the food at the Ballpark getting better?

I believe that the reasons that children are wanting unhealthy food is because they are not trained to eat right. Parents need to start early in the childrens lives and show them the healthy things to eat. There shouldnt be a lot of junk food in the household because then the children are going to want to eat that and are going to be used to getting junk food. I believe if parents are stricked with the childrens diets and allow occasional splurges then the children will not want to eat unhealthy food all the time because they are not used to getting their way and eating that. I believe that sweets and junk food should be used occasionally as awards for the children. This way the children learn that they wont always get their way and that they have to be good and do chores or whatever is expected of them to be able to receive these awards. Kids these days are way too lazy and they dont respect their parents. Instead, they tell their parents what they want, and it is shocking how parents listen to them. Over the years the roles have seemed to change.

I believe that the reasons that children are wanting unhealthy food is because they are not trained to eat right. Parents need to start early in the childrens lives and show them the healthy things to eat.

As someone who was raised in a "healthy" vegetarian environment, I can tell you that this is not about "training" or "education." If anything, the lack of appeal of healthy foods as a child made me enjoy junk food even more.

"kneejerk conservative defense of McDonald's"

Wow. You need to try some socialist cuisine, like maybe North Korea.

Children pefer these kinds of food because they have not learned the complexity of foods. They are given very simple foods and eat those because their tastebuds have not formed. Adults will eat different foods and try new things because they can get bored with simple foods.

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