February 1, 2003 12:16 AM   Subscribe

If it tastes good, eat it? Food scientists have discovered that AMP, " a naturally occurring substance ..... found in a wide range of natural foods - including breast milk" can be used to make bad tasting food taste good. Will it save humanity from the "unholy trinity" of sugar, salt, and fat, or are we all tumor meat as soon as this stuff gets some traction?
posted by BGM (29 comments total)
I don't even want to speculate on what the processed food industry could do with such a tool. Perhaps I should find a wet nurse and stick to breast milk straight from the tap for all my nutrition, just to be safe.
posted by TedW at 12:31 AM on February 1, 2003

...can be used to make bad tasting food taste good.

I wonder a) how bad and b) how good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:45 AM on February 1, 2003

I'll pass on the flavor substitutes, "naturally occurring" or otherwise, but the line "are we all tumor meat...?" just made me choke with laughter.

Funny, funny stuff.
posted by squasha at 1:05 AM on February 1, 2003

Wow, if this stuff can make tonic water taste good, it must be great!

But seriously, I'm really looking forward to this. I could really do with shedding a lot of pounds. Probably safer than the alternative in my case.

As far as it not being natural, I guess I don't care. I love pretty much everything in the sandwich machine at work (from roast beef dinner to "real" sandwiches) and could really go for a tasty TV dinner right now (in Aluminum tray). :-)
posted by shepd at 1:26 AM on February 1, 2003

"So far, the company has found the only drawback of adding too much AMP to their coffees, either in the mug or the grinds, is that it generates the taste of raw fish in your mouth"

You call that a drawback? I'll sprinkle it on my rice for instant sushi!
posted by planetkyoto at 2:43 AM on February 1, 2003

Might be one huge step forward for oral sex.
posted by Postroad at 5:02 AM on February 1, 2003

doesn't even say what the compound is I wonder whether it is the ubiquitous intracellular compound adenine monophosphate.
posted by johnnyboy at 5:33 AM on February 1, 2003

Google says you are right johnnyboy.
posted by saintsguy at 6:11 AM on February 1, 2003

The unholy trinity is really an unholy duet, consisting of those two white devils: refined white sugar and refined white flour. We need salt and fat (in small amounts). Some fat (like olive oil or the fat from an avocado or maybe the fat from some bluefish) is good for you. Mmm...fat. We need it to make certain vitamins soluble, and to pad our internal organs. No one needs refined sugar or white flour - any sugar we need is already in fruits and veggies and other yummy things.

I'm a huge fan of bitter food, so this compound wouldn't be greeted with any enthusiasm on my part. My favorite vegetable in the whole wide world is super bitter broccoli rabe, steamed with chunks of garlic and a little olive oil and some sea salt and cracked black pepper. Hot damn, that's some good stuff!
posted by iconomy at 6:13 AM on February 1, 2003

"Tumor meat"? Geez...
posted by alumshubby at 6:15 AM on February 1, 2003

Wow, if this stuff can make tonic water taste good, it must be great!

A little lime and some Boodles makes tonic water quite tasty.
posted by TedW at 7:33 AM on February 1, 2003

Another worrisome thing about this would be how adenosine monophosphate, a substance which is in EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY, can be patented. And, they found it in breast milk--isn't that evidence of prior art, or something?
posted by LimePi at 9:32 AM on February 1, 2003

Experiments with animals that had taste removed found they starved to death even when given ample food. There is a connection between taste and digestion that should not be messed with.

I am of the school when it comes to food we should eat nothing that has been processed. Eat as we did 200 years ago before industrialization, before heart disease and obesity were a problem. We should mimic the diets of traditional cultures that live long healthy lives. This includes the traditional Swiss culture who have the worlds highest intake of saturated fat (raw milk) and the worlds second longest average life span.
posted by stbalbach at 10:03 AM on February 1, 2003


No thanks - I prefer processed food. Sticking to that diet, at that time, I'd likely be dead. At 46.

posted by JB71 at 12:58 PM on February 1, 2003

200 years ago lifespans were substantially shorter than they are today (as I think JB71 was pointing out). That argument doesn't hold water.
posted by biscotti at 1:21 PM on February 1, 2003

it sounds frightening to me... I love bitter. It's the key to the deliciousness of coffee and chocolate, two of the best tastes out there. SImple sugar/ fat tastes are generally easy to eat but they never have the genuine beauty of a truly distinctive and wonderful flavor.

And that coffee that tastes like raw fish "side effect" seems pretty nasty to me. I'd rather pay a little more for actually good coffee (I mean, if they're taking out the bitter, what will make the coffee taste like good coffee?)

200 years ago lifespans were substantially shorter than they are today

due to starvation and disease, not unhealthy diets (only unhealthy in the sense that sometimes people couldn't get enough of what they needed...)
posted by mdn at 2:59 PM on February 1, 2003

Sure, but there's no reliable evidence that things which weren't diagnosable (or tracked) 200 years ago (like many cancers and heart ailments) were necessarily less prevalent either, or that if they were less prevalent, that this was related more to diet than it was to anything else, especially age (most cancers and heart problems don't present themselves clinically until well past middle age, so naturally you'd expect to see less of them in a population with a shorter average lifespan). The argument still isn't valid, there's no control, and there's the whole correlation != causation thing too.
posted by biscotti at 3:06 PM on February 1, 2003

biscotti -- I'm refering to traditional/tribal peoples not your hard-tack-bacon-whisky drinking American. 200 years ago traditional peoples lived long healthy lives without modern medicine so long as they didn't get killed or smallpox because they ate what we know today to be healthy diets lots of veggies, lean organic meats, no processed foods or chemicals. You may live to be 90 today eating SAD (Standard American Diet) but your quality of life might not be that great. Nagging and chronic conditions so common in modern culture that we just all take for granted that used to never exist. Did you know heart disease was very rare in the USA before the 20th Century? Why is that? It certainly isnt because of saturated fat because 19th Century Americans loved lard. We've processed our food to the point it's unrecognizeable to our bodies as anything we've ever eaten in the past 100,000 years and weird stuff starts happening as a result because we just DON'T KNOW the long term consequences it's a big experiment. I'd rather stick with what I know works which is thosands of years of trial and error by long lived and healthy traditional diets. No processed food, no chemicals, organic.
posted by stbalbach at 3:34 PM on February 1, 2003

200 years ago traditional peoples lived long healthy lives without modern medicine so long as they didn't get killed or smallpox because they ate what we know today to be healthy diets lots of veggies, lean organic meats, no processed foods or chemicals.

And you know that these long healthy lives were that way because of their diets, and not any of the other multitude of variables, how? Whole foods may well be good for you, probably are in fact, but there are better arguments for their healthfulness than unscientific ones like this.
posted by biscotti at 5:46 PM on February 1, 2003

We know this because when these people went on "modern" diets they became fat, diabetic and disease prone. Look at native Hawains. Eskimos. American Indians. The list goes on. This is all based on scientific fact theres tons of studies going back 50+ years. It is epedemic amoung these populations where before the problems never existed. They are called first-world diseases.

This is a slight change in subject but it amazes me that people trust the food industry. They are there to make a profit. Period. Just like the music industry. They don't care about the consumers best interest they only care about makeing more money. So why defend the food industry out to use technology to cut costs and sell us things that may or may not be healthy and which they don't care. They sell this fake tasteing chemical goo and say its a "modern miracle". It's only a modern miracle because they can now sell "food" that otherwise tastes like shit. Why would anyone consider that a good thing unless you were out to make money? That reason alone should be sending red alarm bells off about the food industry. Europeans tend to be more savy about this.
posted by stbalbach at 6:28 PM on February 1, 2003

LimePi, the patent won't be for "ownership" of the compound, it would be for the use of it as a taste-enhancing food additive.

For example, we all know there are no patents for cheese on pizza. However, the idea of stuffing cheese into the crust of a pizza could be patented. And it was, and that's why Pizza Hut got themselves into a whole bunch of trouble over their stuffed crust pizza. I love walking into a Pizza Hut and asking for their patent infringing food. It gets me funny stares, except for the few that have heard the story. :-)

So no, just like cheese, this compound couldn't be patented outright, but the specific use of it could be.
posted by shepd at 9:33 PM on February 1, 2003

stbalbach: diet was not the only change for these people, that's my point, there were substantial lifestyle and other changes, there is no way to conclusively prove that people were healthier 200 years ago solely because of diet. If you have access to McDonald's, you aren't hunting seals all day every day.

And don't misunderstand, I'm not sticking up for anyone, I'm just pointing out that the specific argument you used (also used by Atkins, also inaccurately) relies heavily on confusing correlation with causation, and with handily ignoring factors which don't support it.
posted by biscotti at 9:46 PM on February 1, 2003

The big mac was also patented, although that expired a few years ago, when burger king came out with their clone.

Stbalbach: you're being stupid. The lifespan of those lard-loving americans was to short for people to develop heart disease. They were all busy dying from polio and bacterial infections and such.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on February 1, 2003

biscotti -- Lifestyle is important, but diet is indeed a major factor in health and has been proven many times over. One can do experiments with animals all other factors being equal (lifestyle, exercise, etc..) the rat fed a good diet versus one fed a crappy diet will be healthier.

delmoi -- yeah Americans 200 years ago were riddled with disease you are correct. That is why I talk about traditional diets from traditional peoples as being healthy they didnt have these problems. Diet, a major factor in health, plays a key role and theres lots of science to back it up, if the common sense "you are what you eat" is not good enough.
posted by stbalbach at 10:03 AM on February 2, 2003

stbalbach -- you're spouting things that are just plain false. Aleuts and Eskimos have been short and round for yonks because the ones that weren't short and round died from hypothermia faster. Nor is it the case that polynesians were willowy elves before they met Cook and discovered chubbiness. If anything, they're having problems with anorexia in their young girls for the first time.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:31 PM on February 2, 2003

ROU_Xenophobe -- there's much information on the web but you can start here for traditional diet information. Here's a good article on heart disease and historical numbers and some common myths about nutrition debunked.
posted by stbalbach at 6:35 PM on February 2, 2003

stbalbach >> the last line of that post about myths talks about the health of Seventh Day Adventists. I have an uncle who is a vegetarian SDA and he now has diabetes, which I was really shocked to discover. There is no known family predisposition to it either. He is also overweight I must point out which I always found to be strange. How does one become overwieght on a strictly vegetarian diet? How is that even possible?
posted by SweetIceT at 9:55 PM on February 2, 2003

How does one become overwieght on a strictly vegetarian diet? How is that even possible?

I gained more weight while I was vegetarian than before or after. And I'm pretty sure I know why. I wasn't vegan, and I didn't do much cooking for myself (or living in California) as vegetarians need to do. I basically swapped meat (which can be fairly healthy, high protein low-to-moderate fat) with cheese (much more fat) and eggs (ditto with the yolks).

Refined sugar is the biggest evil though, and it's insidious. Some of the people I work with don't even think twice about drinking 160 ounces of soda in a day. :P
posted by Foosnark at 10:20 PM on February 2, 2003

Foosnark, I had the same experience, and dropped the weight once I went vegan and got out of the habit of eating starchy cookies and chips in between meals.

But I'm not here to preach, folks, just to note that the Chinese are way ahead of us in the using-breast-milk-as-an-additive department.
posted by soyjoy at 9:29 AM on February 3, 2003

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