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The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  7,012 ratings  ·  1,089 reviews
A lively and important argument from an award-winning journalist proving that the key to reversing America's health crisis lies in the overlooked link between nutrition and flavor.

In The Dorito Effect, Mark Schatzker shows us how our approach to the nation's number one public health crisis has gotten it wrong. The epidemics of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are not t
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Simon Schuster
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Steven Hello Ella, hope that your essay writing is going well. When I was reading this book, I noticed sooooooo many similes. There was a crazy amount. I als…moreHello Ella, hope that your essay writing is going well. When I was reading this book, I noticed sooooooo many similes. There was a crazy amount. I also found lots of rhetorical questions. There were also a lot a lists. The lists in this essay were so long sometimes they took up half of a page! It was crazy to see the long list of chemicals that goes into one simple food or even the amount of seasonings it takes for one small piece of chicken. It was just simply astonishing to me. As a father of five, after reading this book, I am for sure changing my kids eating habits. Hope this helps towards your essay!(less)

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Wanda Pedersen
The author provides a three point summary of his book close to the end:

Humans are flavor seeking animals. The pleasure provided by food, which we experience as flavor, is so powerful that only the most strong-willed among us can resist it.

In nature, there is an intimate connection between flavor and nutrition.

Synthetic flavor technology not only breaks that connection, it also confounds it.

We’ve been so busy trying to squeeze more food out of fewer resources, that we lost sight of the fact that
I’d give this book 3-1/2 stars if I could, as I found it interesting, on the whole, but I frequently had second thoughts or reservations concerning the author’s claims. Disclaimer: I listened to this book, rather than read it, so my recollection of the material may be less than perfect.

The Dorito Effect has a snazzy title, breezy style, and is pitched at wide audience, all of which I think are commendable. However, I do think the author exhibits a tendency to stand on a soapbox proclaiming the
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010s, ya, dewey600s
The kind of research that fascinates me. Wish I could have been the author's research accomplice. Recommend highly for folks with chemical sensitivities.

Quote from chapter 1 ... "One day, we may look back on this obesity epidemic as a curious aberration in history when advances in analytic and synthetic chemistry outpaced our knowledge of psychology and nutrition."

Chapter 2 ... "We eat gigantic babies. As a paper in the journal Poultry Science puts it, if humans grew as fast as broilers, 'a 3 kg
Matt Quann
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
[4.5 Stars]

Obesity is a rampant epidemic in the Western world that doubles as a herald for the dieting epidemic. The real shame, aside from the deleterious effects of dieting culture, is that just about every dieting fad ignores the biochemistry that doesn’t jive with its doctrines. Atkins will make you lose weight, but it will place you in a state of ketosis so that when you switch back to a diet containing carbohydrates, you’ll gain everything you lost. Chia seeds and coconut water for breakfa
Rob Haug
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Consider this a sceptic's review. Anyone who knows me, knows this is not an (audio)book I would normally grab. I already know I eat poorly. I didn't want to hear Big Agri and Big Food bashed, and I certainly didn't want to hear what a sad individual I am. I'm more surprised than anyone at my five star review. I think it was the cover that originally grabbed my attention. I also think this is the rare occasion that the audiobook may be preferable to the actual book.
Loaded with terms like "nuritio
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Chicken. Chicken. Chicken. Chicken. Interesting Fact. Chicken.

I think I would have enjoyed this more if it has been a lengthy article than a book. I understand there's more to the book than chickens, but that's the wha the reading experience felt like to me. I enjoyed his overall message, but I had trouble getting through this.
David Dinaburg
Nov 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was upset—outraged, actually. I felt disgusted, hurt, disrespected, pissed off, alarmed, baffled, depressed, and bewildered that industry doesn’t care about real flavor.
This surplus of verbiage happens a few other times in The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor; this just happens to be the final one in the book, not special or more egregious than the others. To excerpt more than one would run counter to the complaint that a tedious pile of synonyms is unnecessary; i
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'll still want Doritos though... The information in the book is probably not going to be too shocking for anyone who takes an interest in what goes into our food, why flavors are the way they are, and why processed foods are bad. Author Schatzker takes the reader though histories, experiments and stories of how and why we have changed what we eat and why we now have such high prevalence of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
But I couldn't help but find the book very disjointed. We star
A brief anecdote- I have spent my entire life thinking that I didn’t enjoy tomatoes. Sure, they were fine IN things, like soups and chilis where they weren’t being relied upon for their flavor, but the idea of a BLT perplexed me. How could anyone find something with nothing but bacon, lettuce, and tomato enticing? It seemed like a good way to ruin perfectly delicious bacon.

And then I started a garden, and I grew Rutger heirloom tomatoes in fertile soil that is part of the flood plain downstream
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty interesting read about the surprising (or maybe not so surprising) things that go into our food.

The basic premise is that farmers and business owners have conspired to make food a lot more profitable, making it very bland in the process. We can buy huge chickens, bright red tomatoes, and many other "improved" food items in the grocery stores, but these "improvements" have come at the cost of flavor, so scientists have come up with all sorts of additives to make our food taste more like t
Opps. Library book got returned before I could write a review and my bookmarks are lost so I don't have all my bookmarked notes. Review from memory.

The Dorito Effect is an interesting take on food, nutrition and our love of eating things we shouldn't. The premise that fresh food has been engineered for maximum yield and flavor has been lost. No controversy there, we all know that those beautiful unblemished red tomatoes tastes like cardboard. As a result, we add flavors, like that addictive che
Lindsay Nixon
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating.

I swore off natural flavors and flavored things (including La Croix and other flavored waters... and my occasional use of stevia for coffee/tea) after reading this book and now 2 months later, I'm still very glad I did and think in doing so my digestion (I'm not sending confusing signals to my brain--flavor says grapefruit is coming and then no grapefruit shows up) and how I taste food with my mouth (your digestive system also tastes food---hence the clarification) has
Vimal Thiagarajan
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adorations
Above all, avoid lies, all lies, especially the lie to yourself. Keep watch on your own lie and examine it every hour, every minute.

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

This quote, to me, is quintessential mindfulness. And this book, to me, is the quintessential application of this brand of diligent mindfulness to eating in the modern world of agricultural, industrial, regulatory, dietary and culinary lies. Paradoxically, if one's stance is that diligent Mindful eating is the sure-shot w
Apr 21, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, science, food

Some interesting facts I hadn’t learned before that ARE valuable and made it worth it.... but DAMN he made 90% of this book about chicken and tomatoes.

(Yes the other 10% was about goats but no complaints there).

& I didn’t appreciate the semi-condescending tone at parts - like yes I know what a vitamin is even with your weird allusion thank you.
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The quest for deliciousness is the fuel that powers the behavior, the god that breathes life into the machine. Animals eat what they need because what they need tastes good.

What a fascinating book is The Dorito Effect: With equal parts accessible science and entertaining detective tale, author Mark Schatzker attempts to answer the questions, “Why is so much of the human brain devoted to the discernment of flavour, and why, with ever more access to fresh foods and diet schemes are we getting
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nutrition-food
my opinion: eh....

In one line I can sum up the book: "avoid artificial flavorings in 'food' and eat real, natural, and high quality produce and meat."

Basically I have summed up every food/paleo/nutrition book written within the last decade with that phrase. So, having said that, this book was nothing new honestly...at least if you have read a nutrition book lately. It's similar to "Salt, Sugar, Fat" but with mentions of flavor interspersed here and there.

The way the author wrote and formatted
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this one years ago and even now, for the second time, it is still frightening to think that this is true about scientists in the kitchen...not cooks. Still a great read.


Calorie Zombies?

I always feel like I have to take these kinds of books with a grain of salt. But with that being said, this a little frightening. Science has moved into the food world, just for the purpose of tantalizing the taste buds even though there is no nutritional value attached to it.

Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was really interesting. I liked the connections that Schatzker made and the science used to back it up. I thought it lagged a little bit towards the end and unfortunately there isn't a great solution to the issues he discussed. Overall, it's worth a read and I really hope the food industry takes notice and improves their products. I would certainly be willing to pay more for better, more flavorful, and healthier foods. 3.5★ ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5★ Interesting theory, which I think is true in part. Although I think our food situation here in Australia is a bit better than in the States, although we are still very subject to the Dorito Effect of adding extra flavour to nutritionally deficient foods. However I still don’t think this is the whole cause of our growing proportion of overweight/obese population.

The author lost me a little bit when he started on the goats - not sure why I lost interest at that point, but I only half regained
❤Marie Gentilcore
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book about “The Dorito Effect” which is basically how the food industry uses flavors (natural and artificial) to get us to eat more even when it is not good for us. This book was very informative. Now I want to eat a Bard Rock or Heirloom chicken so I can taste the difference between what chicken used to taste like versus the diluted taste of today’s young chickens. Recommend for anyone who wants to know more about the food we buy.
Nicole Harris
The science behind flavor was interesting... but when it turned into a soapbox lecture about palates not being refined and how we should pay more for food... (classist much!?) I was just made angry. now I want doritos out of spite.
Ann Keller
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
Interesting book. I don't think I ever realized how much goes into our enjoyment of food. I think our modern age has placed too much emphasis on growing foods which are bigger and better, but lacking in taste and nutrients. This should be a real wake up call! ...more
Gretchen Rubin
More on the subject of taste and flavor, with the argument that the food of today contains fewer nutrients than it used to, and the consequences of that.
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker is a very highly recommended, well researched account that addresses the cause of the health crisis today as being a direct result of what we have done to our food.

In an effort to increase size, and production, we have taken the natural flavor out of food. Our bodies naturally crave flavors that the current food isn't providing so we eat more trying to fill the flavor void we're missing. Focusing on mainly chicken and tomatoes, Schatsker does an excellent job
Simon Eskildsen
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Dorito Effect added insightful perspective to my understanding of how food has changed in the past 50 years, filling in much needed missing pieces. The world around us shows what happens when chemistry and artificial flavouring outpace knowledge in farming and human health.

We obsess over the ultimate spice blend, and make them incredibly complex—but when it comes down to it, we're trying to run from the fact that the food we're trying to eat in the first place is bland. 50 years ago, recipes
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I agree with most of Schatzker's points. Motivated by profit margins, the food industry has made food bland and as a result, less nutritious. Therefore, we should eat more whole foods and failure to do this leads to obesity, health issues, yadda yadda yadda. It's interesting but for the most part, nothing new for those who pay even the slightest attention to health and wellness.

What's really disappointing is that the author—aided by an obnoxious narration of the audiobook—barely acknowledges the
After reading a book about an obese family, Sugar, this was the match-up book for one of the weeks of Audiofile's SYNC program. This book was basically horrifying. How the food we eat is so bland that we pile on the fake flavors to make it taste better and it's basically just terrible for us. But we're addicted to it. Natural flavors, artificial flavors, both are bad! It's incredible and awful to think about. How do we fix this?! Buy from farmer's markets, buy from local farms, get into partners ...more
Jun 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating and terrifying in equal measures. I feel that my palate might already be doomed seeing as I have had a lot of the foods it talked about in here. It was really interesting learning about how food in handled in other countries such as France, Spain, and Italy. Some of the stuff they talked about being done to make it super large (such as boiler chickens) made me think of some crazy fiction such I have read in Margaret Atwood books. Guess life isn't that far from those out ...more
4.5 stars

This book is all about modern food so if that isn't what you're wanting to learn about you'll probably be bored. I just happened to pick it up anyway, even though I wasn't looking for it. I really got into it. It has tons of helpful information and stuff I had no idea about. It definitely changed to way I look at things, and ever since I read it, I've been telling bits I learned in random conversation with others.
Jami Balmet
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A VERY interesting look at our modern food system and how unhealthy our food has become (and why)! Overall I loved it and highly recommend it! I listened to it as an audio book and it was great!

I do wish he had connected the dots a little bit more and diverged from just taste to some other large problems with our modern food (but I understand that’s not the point of this book). I also felt like the middle got a little long and bogged down. But overall a soldier 4 or 4.5!
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Mark Schatzker is the author of three books: Steak, The Dorito Effect, and The End of Craving. A former feature writer for Conde Nast Traveler, his work has been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Best American Travel Writing and Annual Review of Psychology. He is the writer in residence at the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center, which is based at Yale University. He ...more

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11 likes · 0 comments
“The food problem is a flavor problem. For half a century, we've been making the stuff people should eat--fruits, vegetables, whole grains, unprocessed meats--incrementally less delicious. Meanwhile, we've been making the food people shouldn't eat--chips, fast food, soft drinks, crackers--taste ever more exciting. The result is exactly what you'd expect.” 7 likes
“Can these foods [low-fat, vitamin-enriched, etc] even be called "healthy"? Perhaps we should think about it this way: If you cut a batch of pharmaceutical-grade cocaine with chai, you could say with some degree of honesty that it is "healthier," "less addictive," and "now with chai!" But would you say it's "good for you"?” 4 likes
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