As children, our tastes are conditioned.
That is, taste behavior is practiced and learned. Children who are rewarded with sweets will later reward themselves that way; children who think that fish sticks are real fish will turn their noses up at the catch of the day. Children whose parents eat fast food in front of them, will eat the same thing later.
And school food? It’s unbelievable that in a country like Germany one cannot take for granted that schools offer good meals. There are different justifications for this: a lack of funds (as always), a lack of infrastructure, a lack of staff.
The craziest story was one told to me by a cook who wanted to start up a good school cafeteria. Everything was all set, until the headmaster intervened: the school food would lower the sales figures from the snack counter. Sweet drinks and candy bars prevailed.
So much for the state of taste education.
We need a taste revolution.
And all parents can start it by resisting the encroachment of the large manufacturers of sweet food like Dannon (“fruit dwarves”) Ferrero (“Nutella”) or Wild (“Capri Sun”). They put more and more pressure on schools and kindergartens, where they host sports events or, like Nestlé with its “Nutrikid” and so-called “Nourishment Awareness Campaign,” falsely link their products to an image of “health.”
It’s a scandal that even top athletes let themselves be yoked to such products in television commercials.
Whether in the supermarket or at the farmer’s market, you have everything at hand to prepare meals.
Ask around and test the options; take your children with you. Children are curious, as you know. Where does food come from? How is it produced? What can I cook with those ingredients? What’s in it?
You’ll realize quickly where you’ll get inspiring answers, and where you’ll get a shrug. Who can tell you more about what he sells, and who can’t. And where you’ll be able to sample and compare the wares. Ultimately you should only invest your money where it’s well-placed: in the food whose origin and ingredients you’re familiar with.
One can easily go wrong in questions of taste; there’s a great story about this floating around the Internet.
It takes place at a wine tasting, where the same wine (in different bottles and with different labels) is placed before the professional wine tasters. According to the label, one bottle contained a cheaper wine and the other a very expensive wine.
In reality, both bottles contained the cheap wine. However, the testers gave the wine from the bottle with the expensive label considerably more points.
You can do similar taste experiments with all foodstuffs, comparing apples and pears, cold cuts and bread, and with all kinds of flavors: bitter, salty, sweet, spicy.
When you train your taste buds with these or similar exercises, you’ll become a taste expert, and it won’t be so easy to trick your taste buds with a fake label.