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Lecture 7

PSYC 3P37 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Food Energy, Teratology, Miscarriage

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Michael Ashton

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PSYC 3P37: March 3, 2015
Evolutionary Functions of Food Preference
Why do people like the taste of $ood $avored by spices? (“why”
in the functional sense)
Sherman and Flaxman (2001):
oPhytochemicals that protect plants from microorganisms
also protect people by preserving their food from
contamination (through antimicrobial activity)
Prediction: spices used in cooking should be antimicrobial
oCon/rmed: lab studies show that (of 30 spices tested) all of
the spices killed at least ¼ of bacteria species, and half of
spices killed at least ¾; four spices killed every bacteria
species tested (garlic, onion, allspice, oregano)
Prediction: should have greatest use of spices in hot climates
(where unrefrigerated food spoils quickly)
oCon/rmed: hotter countries used more spices  in 5 of 6
hottest countries every meat-based recipe had spice; in
two coldest countries studied, more than one third of meat
recipes had no spices
oAverage Indian meat recipe used nine spices, average
Norwegian only two
Also, within-country basis, more spices are used at lower
latitudes (closer to equator) and lower altitudes (closer to sea-
Prediction: within any country, meat recipes should have more
spices than vegetable recipes… because risk of microbial
infection is greater for meat than for plants (which have tougher
cell walls and lower cell pH levels)
oCon/rmed: across all countries, average of 3.9 spices per
meat recipes and 2.4 spices per vegetable recipe; also,
more spices in meat than in vegetable recipes within each
Note also… Korea has much less food poisoning than Japan does
(3 vs. 30 cases per 1000000), perhaps because Korean foods are
much spicier  traditional Japanese diet involved local fresh
seafood, but nowadays seafood not always so local or fresh, so
much higher risk of contamination
Alternative hypotheses and responses…
oMaybe spices just mask the smell and taste of spoiled food:
they might, but spices are antimicrobial, not just strong-
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