Taste Matters: Why We Like the Foods We Do

Author(s): John Prescott

Food Writing

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.


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“Compellingly and comprehensively, Prescott reveals the cultural, genetic and physiological differences behind gustatory preferences. From the effects of a woman's Kalamata olive habit on her unborn child to the uncoupling of flavour and nutrition, this is a top-notch scientific smorgasbord.” 

- Nature (JC BookGrocer)

“Anyone versed in the literature of dieting, nutrition or childcare may find some of Prescott's broader findings familiar. But the details of the studies that support them are enlightening, as is the glimpse they give of the work of psychologists in the relatively new field of "food preference". For the chef or home cook, Taste Matters contains little in the way of directly practicable information, but there's certainly food for thought here, particularly for the menu designer, nutritionist or thwarted slimmer. Studies have indicated that we are programmed to crave high-energy (ie sweet, high-fat) foods, and that most of us, when we succumb to these cravings, find fullness an easily ignorable incentive to stop”  Niki Segnit – The Guardian  (JC BookGrocer)


'Our food likes and dislikes are the result of a labyrinth of influences. John Prescott is our perfect guide through this labyrinth. Taste Matters is of huge interest to the cook because it offers valuable insights into what is actually going on as we eat. But it's not just for cooks: these pages will be of interest to everyone, whether you're a parent looking for ways to get your children to eat more widely or a reader just trying to work out what makes us humans tick.' - Heston Blumenthal

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).

General Fields

  • : 9781861899149
  • : Reaktion Books
  • : Reaktion Books
  • : October 2011
  • : 216mm X 138mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : May 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : John Prescott
  • : Hardback
  • : 5-Dec
  • : 152.167
  • : 224
  • : 15