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How to describe the many tastes and flavors of saving the earth

April 23, 2021

Happy belated Earth Day!

Yes, you can help save the earth through food! Your food choices make a big impact!

By choosing farms like Miller’s that use regenerative farming practices, your food choices are improving soil, sequestering carbon, decreasing pollution of synthetic chemicals, increasing biodiversity, and so much more. 

All of the above are essential for reversing climate change.

When you eat truly natural and pasture raised foods, you can taste the difference. The flavors are stronger, the textures are more pronounced. 

In fact, one of the ways I can tell if I’m eating real food is how it tastes. If it has a marked flavor, I know the animals weren’t fed mostly corn and soy. If the flavor varies from order to order, that’s proof of naturally varying diets. If it has a distinct texture, yup, those animals lived an active lifestyle.

This is starkly different from the eerie consistency of conventional and industrialized food. 

For example, if you eat an Egg McMuffin anywhere in the US, you are guaranteed that the taste and texture will be exactly the same. It is engineered to be that way, and it wouldn’t be possible without industrialized agriculture, lots of processing, and synthetic flavors, texturizers, and preservatives.

Although standardizing and industrializing food is miraculous and many consumers love it, it does come with awful consequences for the earth. Erosion, carbon emissions, ecosystem destruction, and pollution to name just a few.

Describing tastes and flavors can be a challenge. I know the struggle is real, because I hear it from customers all the time.

The feedback usually starts with noting that the food tasted great, weird, awesome, odd, yummy, off, or different. Then it ends with, “I can’t describe it.”

Let’s see if I can provide some guidance on describing taste. Because discussing your yummy nutritious food with others is... well... fun.

When you take your first bite of a food, start thinking about the 5 main taste receptors on your tongue:

  • Salty - A salty flavor (potato chips and cold cuts).
  • Sweet - A sugary flavor (cakes and cookies).
  • Sour - A biting, tangy, tart flavor (lemons and vinegar).
  • Bitter - A tart, sharp, and sometimes harsh flavor (dandelion greens and coffee).
  • Umami - Means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese. A meaty, savory deliciousness that deepens flavor (milk kefir and miso).

Now, go deeper with your next bites. What can you detect?

  • Astringency – Dry, chalky sensation in the mouth
  • Acidic – Sharp, tart, sour
  • Acrid – Pungent, sharp, biting, bitter
  • Alkaline – Dry, somewhat bitter
  • Ashy – Dry, burnt, smoky, bitter
  • Barnyard – Dusty, musty, earthy
  • Burnt – Scorched, bitter
  • Buttery – Fatty, creamy, rich
  • Candy-like – Sweet, cooked sugar, cotton-candy
  • Cardboard – Papery, stale, oxidized
  • Caustic – Biting, acidic, astringent, stinging
  • Citrus – Ripe citrus fruit like lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange
  • Chalky – Dusty, powdery, gritty
  • Chemical – Medicinal, metal, sulphur
  • Clean – Without off-flavors or undesirable traits
  • Cooked – Sulfurous, caramelized, burnt
  • Delicate – Pleasant, mild, mellow
  • Earthy – Musty, green
  • Green – Vegetative, grassy, leguminous
  • Jammy – Preserved fruit, ripe, pungent, sweet
  • Lactic – Fresh, heated, acidified or transformed (burnt, rotten) milk
  • Lipid – Fatty, rich
  • Malt-like – Sweet, nutty
  • Medicinal – Chemical, plastic
  • Musty – Stale, moldy, mildew, damp
  • Piquant – Pleasantly pungent, tart, zesty, zingy
  • Pungent – Sharp, intense, penetrating
  • Phenolic – Plastic, chemical, medicinal
  • Rancid – Rotten, spoiled, stale, bad
  • Resinous – Woody, pine, cedar, oak
  • Smoky – Wood smoke, burnt, char
  • Sulfur – Rotten eggs, burning, match-like
  • Tangy – Tart, zesty, mouthwatering
  • Tart – Sour, sharp, bitter, acidic
  • Vegetal – Green, beany, raw, grassy
  • Yeasty – Bready, doughy

And, of course, have fun with your flavor descriptions and be creative! 

You may have a different opinion than someone else. That’s ok. Hey, you might even need to invent your own words to describe certain flavors. It’s about fully appreciating the food and embracing ALL of the flavors of saving the earth.

What Miller’s foods have you eaten lately? How would you describe them?

PS: I really love getting feedback from you. If anything tastes out of this world, let me know… even if you’re not an expert sensory evaluator! If you’re up for it, level up and leave your feedback in a Google Review.

Marie Reedell

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