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Why Do We Hate The Food We Hate? — ‘The Why’

Welcome to the newest edition of The Why.Why do we hate the food we hate?” Good question. (OK, it’s a little “Psychology Today” but it beats answering questions about odd intimate acts. Seriously? We thought a “Mushy Biscuit” was just one of those foods people hate to eat, mmmkay?)


Image: TOO

Our guest speaker, Meeri Kim, contributor to the Washington Post online agrees that whether you call yourself a “picky eater” or “an adventurous one”, everyone has some foods they hate. She says: “Polarizing foods, such as cilantro, mushrooms, or olives, can render a dish inedible for some. Others feel a bit queasy at the thought of eating offal, the internal organs of an animal, such as brain, testicles and heart. And to the average American, bugs are creatures never to be eaten except perhaps by accident” or on a bet.

The question is though, why do we hate the foods we hate? Where do our aversions to specific food come from anyway?

We hate what we hate. It could be a lot of things. It could be psychological. It could be a bad experience or how we were raised. Who knows for sure though?


Image: Whisper

Paul Rozin, professor emeritus in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, whom Kim calls “the father of disgust for his extensive research on the subject” stated: “Every person has a bunch of foods they like, and a bunch of foods they don’t like, and we can’t explain why,”  (See?)

He notes that while sometimes we hate food because of the taste this is not always the answer. He notes that the “disgust reaction: is often based on our knowing the origin or nature of a specific food.  (Toldja.)

Kim, who researched the subject, reports: “Humans have an innate taste for sweet and fat and a built-in dislike of bitter and spicy substances, but the rest is learned. Hence, our upbringing plays a large role in what we find disgusting.”

She confirms: “Food aversion can also be acquired through a single unfortunate incident, like getting sick after eating, that gets forever burned into your brain. For instance, pickiness in children is thought to be associated with a negative experience such as vomiting, choking, an allergic reaction, or force-feeding.” (There ya go.)


Image: MGH

Kim concludes: “Oversensitivity to certain flavors is another cause of food aversions. Genetic studies have shown that how strongly we sense bitter and sweet flavors is influenced by a single gene that codes for a taste receptor on our tongues. “

Why do we hate the food we hate? Now you know.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

American Live Wire . . . Listen and be heard.

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.

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