Flavorists: the enablers & my Grandmothers



CBS 60 minutes recently aired a special report on : “The Flavorists: Tweaking tastes and creating cravings”. I would have appreciated the segment more if it actually went into explaining food flavors and the flavor industry, but instead Morley Safer indicated that the flavor industry is “the enabler of the Food Processing Industry”.  The implication then being that processed foods taste delicious and therefore people eat too much and become obese.  This program attracted a plethora of negative comments about the flavor industry and one commenter even mentioned her disgust of flavorist morals.  Some untruths from the written segment:

1) They (flavorists) mimic mother nature’s molecules with chemicals.  Molecules are the same as chemicals used in flavorings (organic chemicals). The reason CBS chose different names is for sensationalism.

2)  The flavor industry is the enabler of the Food Processing Industry.  My thought is that consumers that buy processed foods are the enabler. Yes, the flavor industry exists to make processed foods taste better; but it’s the consumer that chooses to buy these products.

Why is it that so many Americans rely on processed foods?  We are short on time and continually busy. My grandmother (who will be 100 next week) tells me it’s a shame that everyone is always in a hurry. She’s wise. Why don’t we slow down and enjoy the moment?  She’d walk instead of drive the car and she’d take time cook a nice dinner. Grandma seems the most in tune with why our society is unhealthy and obese.

I am fortunate that I’ve spent a bit of time with both of my Grandmothers. One lived with me during my early years and passed when I was 18. This grandma, Hazel, was born in 1892 and often relayed to me how she hated butchering chickens when she was young. She taught me that one hundred years ago,  we used to process our own food. Hazel taught me to cook and can fruits, but also liked using minute rice, spam, frozen bread dough and bacon fat. My grandmother, Marion, who will be 100, taught me to set out an appetizer plate of veges before a meal, make sun tea and squeeze fresh orange juice everyday. Marion also introduced me to Kraft macaroni and cheese, Cracker Jack and the toaster oven. Both Grandmothers showed me how to cook from scratch, roast a turkey and prepare a family meal (they only believed in family meals), but they also taught me to appreciate convenience in life.  In all their wisdom, they were teaching me balance.  Perhaps the cause of unhealthy habits and obesity in our culture is lack of balance.  In my struggles as a mom, I strive for maintaining and teaching balance.  I do not plan on being a “victim” or teaching my children to be “victims”. Struggles with weight and health need to be tackled with courage and determination and we need to support our friends who have these struggles. And as Grandmother Marion tells me, we need to slow down.

Grandma Hazel and Susie mid 70's

Grandma Marion and Susie 2010


  1. Im happy that you had the orpuptonity to learn how to live, the right way.Today, all those good things are being lost, I guess Im a lucky one, I have a wonderfull mom and grandparents, who tought me and my sibilings how to survive and live happly with very little, and most importantly, with out hurting mother earth.Thank you for sharing your story, it made me remember were I come from, the beautiful family I have, and how lucky and blessed we are, Thank you, I give you a 10!!

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