Why do we like the foods that we do? What happens when we eat not for nutrient intake but for sensory pleasure? How far are our food preferences determined by genetic inheritance, by maternal diet, by cultural practice? These are some of the questions that sit at the heart of John Prescott's Taste Matters, a book that provides scientific explanations for why we eat in the way that we do. Surveying a broad range of factors, from different cultural traditions to physiological and genetic influences, Prescott argues that in affluent Western societies food selection is increasingly unrelated to survival. Food has become less about nutrient intake, and more about sensory, and sometimes intellectual, pleasure. Moreover, changes in the average modern diet have led to an increase in obesity and high blood pressure. Why and how do our tastes create such paradoxes? With its sensitivity and awareness of such contemporary issues, Taste Matters is a relevant and timely title. Highly accessible and compellingly written, Prescott's book brings scientific research to a wide audience, paving the way for a healthier, more sustainable and informed understanding of taste.
John Prescott is Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia, as well as Editor of Food Quality & Preference and Executive Editor of Chemosensory Perception. He co-edited, with Beverly Tepper, Genetic Variation in Taste Sensitivity (2004).