WKAR's podcast "Serving Up Science" taught dozens of people about the science behind taste. It was the final signature event of Michigan State University's seventh annual Science Festival.
WKAR "All Things Considered" host Karel Vega and Food@MSU writer and food historian Sheril Kirshenbaum welcomed 60 people to the Kellogg Center on Saturday, April 20.
With the help of Robin Tucker, assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition at MSU, the audience learned the difference between flavor and taste. The audience also tasted a piece of paper with a substance on it called PTC or phenylthiocarbamide. Depending on their reaction to having the paper in their mouth for 10 seconds, they learned if they were a "super" taster or someone super sensitive to bitter tastes.
Helen Veit, a food historian in the MSU history department, talked about the history and culture of so-called "picky eaters." She said in the 1800's, there were few Americans who said their children refused food. But the idea of "picky eaters" rose with the rise of processed foods. Veit also said genetics played a role.
The MSU Science Festival ran April 5-20. Hundreds of MSU scientists, researchers and educational partners displayed their reserach and findings to the public. Events were held on the MSU campus in East Lansing as well as in Detroit, Grand Rapids and across Michigan.
Editor's note: WKAR is a sponsor of MSU Science Festival. In addition to Serving Up Science, WKAR's Curious Crew also made an appearance at the festival.