FEB 23

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11. FEB 23: Unit 3: Gastronomy, Neurogastronomy, and Dietary Change

Assigned Work

  • Barber, Dan. Chapter 30: "Seed" from The 3rd Plate (382-409) (27)
  • The big idea from the Land Institute: The Land Institute, big idea in 3 minute video
  • Gordon Shepherd, Neurogastronomy Chapters 2, 7 (17)
  • SW2: Assessing Industrial Foods


  • Barber, Dan. Introduction The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, (1-22). (22)

SW2: Assessing Industrial Foods

  • Stage 1: Please write an 800 hundred word maximum answer to the following question by Thursday, March 3, 2022, 11:59pm.
  • Topic: What are the most serious problems with the US Industrial Food System and Industrial Diet? Focus on this question in your answer, but allow some room to acknowledge what industrial processes and systems do well. Allow about 1/4 of your answer (200 words) to address this question: What are the main lessons for protecting yourself from the worst effects of the Western industrial diet?
  • Advice about collaboration: Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes, verbally. Collaboration is also a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs in the class. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way. You will lose points if you do not follow these instructions:
  1. To assure anonymity, you must remove your name from the the "author name" that you may have provided when you set up your word processing application. For instructions on removing your name from an Word or Google document, [click here].
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text, in a typical 12 point font, and using normal margins. Do not add spaces between paragraphs and indent the first line of each paragraph.
  3. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student ID number in the file, but not in the filename. Save your file for this assignment with the name: [filename].
  4. To turn in your assignment, log into courses.alfino.org, click on the [dropbox name] dropbox.
  5. If you cannot meet a deadline, you must email me about your circumstances (unless you are having an emergency) before the deadline or you will lose points.
  • Stage 2: Due to the timing of Spring Break, I will comment and score this batch of writing.

Barber, "Introduction" The 3rd Plate

  • Browse to these three restaurants
  • "Blue Hill at Stone Barnes" and "Family Meal"-- as a project [[1]]
  • Chez Panisse [2]
  • Wild Sage in Spokane [3]
  • Compare on qualities like: Farm to Table - use of Farm names to identify source. Traditional (1st / 2nd plate) vs. novel (3rd plate). Fixed price v. entree pricing (No-choice allows more power to the chef.) Wandering Table tried this in Spokane.
  • Story of Eight Row flint corn at Blue Hills. sig. "varietal restoration" "heritage cultivation"
  • Story of the summer of corn at Blue Hills Farm when Barber was a kid. Note diffs.
  • planted in "Three Sisters"
  • polenta not typically thought of as high flavor experience, but in this case it was.
  • Barber says (8) that the polenta story is the kind of experience he found himself repeating. What does he mean. What are the main features of the polenta story?
  • Barber's "Plates"
  • some background on "farm to table" "artisanal eaters" "locavores" -- (another side of industrial food, esp. for a chef, is the effect of varieties and production methods on flavor).
  • chef as activist (p. 10 reference to Paul Bocuse) -- Wolfgang Puck -- eventually industrial food system produces a version of the chef's innovation.
  • p. 11ff: Barber's critique of farm to table and the 1st and 2nd plates. Criticizing the way we eat: protein-centric plate, small side of veg Protein consumption per capita by country
  • Some detail on Blue Hills.
  • lamb chop story-- Problem: farm serving table. Table is still in charge of the plate. "cherry picking ingredients that are often ecologically demanding and expensive to grow" So, eliminate the menu! p.14 top of 15. Note characterization of American cuisine vs. French and Italian. No peasant heritage to base it on. Am: immoderation, big slabs of meat. (Carla's story Fall 2018 - What it means to have a place based culinary identity).
  • 16: Note discussion of cuisine - based on ingredients local and sustainable.
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd plates 17. Claim: "The future of cuisine will represent a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking about cooking and eating that defies Americans' ingrained expectations." 18 Note that he gives another definition of the 3rd Plate at p. 21.
  • 18: "truly delicious food is dependent on an entire system of agriculture. .... 21: the thrid plate goes beyond raising awareness about the importance of farmers and sustainable agriculture. I helps us recognize that what we eat is part of an integrated whole, a web of relationships, that cannot be reduced to single ingredients"
  • The food "supply chain" is an ecology. The implication is that we can assess it in terms of sustainability, flavor, quality, diversity...etc.

Barber, Dan. Chapter 30: "Seed" (pp. 382-409)

  • Introductory story of the tomato fungus. fungus worse because spread from trucks, but also highlighting varietal system. Mountain Magics resist blight fungus and still taste good. We meet the Cornell breeders of this variety.
  • Theme of the chapter: how does the work of plant breeders affect the food system, especially flavor and yield. Story of Flvr Savr tomato with no flavor. Calgene's gmo industrial tomato. discontinued.
  • Background on Land grant breeding programs. 1862, with USDA, experiment station, extension service added in 1914. Can have negative effects from success. Breeding programs raised yields, but also lowered prices. 388: description of the work of the breeder. Really agriculture's artists.
  • Terroir for wheat? Aragon 03, kept alive in a corner of Spain, in high demand.
  • Palouse Heritage -- take a look at the landrace/heirloom food system for cereal terroir in the Northwest.
  • Steve Jones, formerly of WSU, now Washington State Research and Extention Center, Mt Vernon (and Bread Lab) background story - how land grant seed banks work, fateful meeting with Monsanto (p. 395), 1880 Bayh-Dole Act. by 1990s majority funding from private industry.
    • Specialty wheat in Skagit Valley. (So, if wheat were a fresh crop, we would also be supporting crop rotation over syn fertilizers.)
  • Nice narrative moment with the farmers and Jones. Interesting point about how the flavor yield trade off occurs more in plant that have been selected for size and water. Harder to ramp up flavor with all that water. Also, older wheat variety had higher nutrition. Claim of 50% more calcium, iron, and zinc.
  • Digress on Fall 2018 Florence "Ancient Grains Seminar" (Shared folder)
  • Jones wants to move beyond heirloom varieties. Still ways to improve and diversify strains.
  • Land Institute project fits here.

Gordon Shepherd, Neurogastronomy Chapters 2, 7, 11, 18, 19, 21, 27

C2: Dogs, Humans, and Retronasal Smell
  • comparison of dog’s snout and sniffing with human. Important how motor functions and anatomy are integrated to behavior. Dogs can sniff 6-8 times a second. Mice sniff up to 10x a second!
  • Inside the snout: modern mammals engage in ortho and retronasal olfaction. Receptors in nasal bulb direct to brain.
  • Evolution of the Human Nose: Why we don’t have snouts....bipedalism or diet. Argued in evo theory that decline of the snout led to ascendency of vision. Stereoscopic vision only possible without the snout. Human olfaction favors retronasal vs. Dogs. Retro-nasal more emphasis on what we put in our mouths. 25-26: mechanics of chewing, sampling by taste buds, air flow, heating, humidification, retronasal olfaction,
  • Why would retronasal olfaction be favored in humans?
  • 1. Bipedalism increased our range and exposure to food varieties.
  • 2. Cooking. Origins of “cuisine” in emergence of cooking 400,000 years ago. (Note both are food explanations and they connect become “omnivores” with evolving retronasal olfaction.
  • Conclusion: The evolution of humans as upright omnivores with retro-nasal olfaction puts more emphasis on the brain in processing and remembering flavor and odor.
C7: Images of Smell
  • The Olfactory Bulb: molecular and neural pathways at the bulb. Glomerulus (glom) - convergence site of receptor cells. Interneurons: often specialized processors. Periglomeral cells, Mitral cells, tufted cells. Granule cells.
  • How does olfactory bulb represent smell? Story of discovery: 1930s Edgar Adrian, hedgehogs, noticed how patterns of excitation could create an “image” of the smell, using electrophysiology techniques.
  • Sokoloff method for tracking energy used by the brain with a marker for glucose uptake. Important work that led to PET and fMRI. Follows his own research from 70s in using this method to track energy use in the olfactory bulb as it is exposed to odors.
  • Confirms idea of a “smell image” or pattern of activation in the glomeruli. Started to fill in a “map” of the receptor sites on the bulb. 1990s.
  • Some “odor images” from the work of Michael Leon and Brett Johnson. [4]
  • Final point: The olfactory pathways are heavily modulated - sensitive to behavioral state: appetite, aversion, openness to experience, all affect flavor perception.
C11 Creating, Learning, and Remembering Smell
  • lateral olfactory tract — context output from the bulb to the olfactory cortex in the brain. Long in humans. What is its role?
  • importance of pyramidal cells. 100: capable of feedback excitation to stimulating cells. Thought important to memory. Damaged in dimentica patients.
  • 101: Olfactory cortex “serves as content-addressable memory for association of odor stimuli with memory traces of odors. “. Structures that support this claim. Herb rule - identifies activity that suggest memory and learning. Interesting parallels between odor recognition and face recognition.
  • 103: summary of functions of olfactory cortex. Not clear if perception of smell itself arises in ol. Cortex. Some research suggesting that it can detect the absence of the essential amino acids.
  • key ideas: knowledge of mechanisms for understanding memory and flavor; learning mechanism, may even detect amino acids.
C18 Putting it all Together: The Human Brain Flavor System
  • opening summary of the "human brain flavor system."
  • reference and quote from Brillat-Savarin, the first “gastronome” . Nice continuity between early language and neurogastronomy.
  • sensory system vs action system
  • sensory system:
  • flavor also produced by smell, taste, mouth-sense, sight, sound.
  • multi-sensory integration, or “Supra-addivtivity” involves congruent repetition of combinations of stimuli. “internal brain image” of the flavor object.
  • read summary sentence, p. 160: “A consensus is emerging....” [Think about this a minute....]
  • action system
  • chart on p. 161 matching brain structures to aspects of flavor perception. The action system includes emotional response, memory, decision making, plasticity (how the activity of the body/brain — in this case eating— changes the brain) Language, consciousness. (Each treated in next section. We sample the chapter on emotions.)
C19: Flavor and Emotions
  • emotions moves us toward action, but also reflect our internal state of desiring and wanting. What is diff between want and craving?
  • research from Monell Chemical Senses Institute. Cravings implicated in eating disorders. Dull diets stimulate craving. Marcia Pelchat and colleagues looked at parallels between food cravings and drug craving. In a study, one group of test subjects were on a monotonous diet and another on a normal diet. In brain imaging, the monotonous eaters produced strong activation when asked to imagine a favorite food. Supports hypothesis that there is a common circuitry to natural and pathological rewards (food and drugs). 168ff: discussion of brain structures implicated in the study. Hippocampus, insula, caudate nucleus. Caudate includes high concentration of dopamine. Also part of the striatum, which involves habits (which probably involve dopamine). When we are hungry, we can activate food memories and emotional responses in anticipation of the food.
  • [An implication of this for eating is that hunger plays a key role in satisfaction. The hungrier eater produces stronger anticipatory activation. “Hunger is the best relish.” “Images of desire” maybe be important to satisfaction. But also, this research suggests that an unsatisfied brain (one on a dull diet) is more likely to produce cravings . In a sense the brain demands satisfaction. read at 168. Digression on question: Does the industrial diet produce real satisfactions? Mixed evidence. ]
  • chocolate-satiety study (Dana Small) — test subjects eat chocolate to satiety while in imaging. Difference in activation can be thought of as a change in the flavor image (for chocolate) under conditions of craving and satisfaction. Mentions concept of “reward value” current in brain research. cool idea here is that our flavor images change with our hunger states.
C21: Flavor and Obesity
  • considers the case of french fries in relation to the flavor perception system. Salt, fat, and sweetness (SFS). Discusses the meat flavor from tallow, now artificially added. Adds in the rest of the typical fast food meal. Chased with coffee and a cookie. Coffee has over 600 volatile molecules. Point: the fast food meal involves sensory overload.
  • Overeating:
  • sensory overload;
  • caloric density; reduced roughage.
  • But also “Sensory-specific satiety” . Single flavors diminish appetite while multiple flavors amplify it. You can eat more food if it includes multiple flavors. The complexity of industrial flavors increases our ability to overconsume them. 187
  • long-term overstimulation of skin and membranes of the lips and mouth. Interesting research shows obese test subjects have more activation of these areas even while not eating. [this supports the idea of a learned behavior from food conditioning]
  • Conditioned overeating: Other research by Dana Small. You can induce extra eating in rats with conditioned stimuli (bell). Humans have wide field of potential conditioning stimuli.
  • Other research suggests that ineffective inhibitory circuits play a role in obesity.
  • Others speculate that the reward value of food for obese is too low. The brain doesn’t register enough pleasure from a normal diet.
  • Kessler: combination of SFS culprit (note that in Kessler’s theory several of the above theories are included.)
C27: Why Flavor Matters
  • brief summary.
  • Flavor at different life stages:
  • In the womb: flavors in amniotic fluid, rat study showing odor preference established pre-natally. Diet studies with pregnant women (using anise or carrot juice for eample) show similar results.
  • In infants: flavor and preference also communicated through breast milk
  • In childhood: research showing kids are hyper sensitive to SFS foods.
  • In adolescents.
  • Flavor and dieting in adults. Doesn’t work. 238: “key element missing in most discussions of diet is flavor”. Very important point. Cites Brownell’s “Food Fight” (2004) and Barbara Rolls.
  • In old age: research on loss of smell sense.