Are you a supertaster, nontaster or somewhere in the middle? Are you someone who can drink black coffee or super hoppy IPAs with ease, or are you someone who prefers sweeter tastes? Did you know those bumps on your tongue aren’t your taste buds? If you were at this month’s Grit City Think&Drink, then you remember what I’m talking about. If not, then you missed out.
Grit City Think&Drink events are a series of monthly interactive lectures and seminars held on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at The Swiss Pub, free and open to all ages. During the first 2018 Grit City Think&Drink Jan. 9, the pub was packed with community members, faculty and students as each attendee sipped merrily and engaged in this month’s riveting seminar.
Leighann Chaffee, a professor in UW Tacoma’s psychology department, cracked open the complexities and leading issues surrounding flavor perception and what drives people to consume the different foods and beverages they do. Chaffee explained the many components that affect food choices and how our decisions are much more complex than our sense of taste alone.
Members of the crowd were actively engaged as they partook in a Propylthiouracil test, which allowed them to better understand what kind of taster they are and how that may affect their dietary choices and health.
”This event was surprisingly interactive and I learned more about my genetics than I ever thought I would at a bar,” said Dillan Henshaw, a UWT student.
While yes, it is interesting to learn about why we all have a universal love for sweets or why some people have fewer taste buds than others, there is a very practical and serious application of this knowledge as well.
Chaffee explained that the motivation and interest in this topic “comes from the fact that we have this obesity epidemic that’s widely documented but we really fail to abate it.”
She also sees that a huge contributing factor to obesity is related to taste and sweetness.
“Individuals who have obesity related health disorders do experience a reduced intensity of sweetness than individuals without obesity related disorders,” Chaffee said.
Chaffee went on to say that when a “nontaster eats something that is indulgent, they aren’t getting as much out of it” when compared to supertasters and people who fall in the middle. Ultimately, by looking through a psychological lens at this issue, it provides further insight into how to better reduce rates of obesity.
The next Grit City Think&Drink event is Feb. 13 where UWT American Studies professor Ingrid Walker will discuss alcohol and drug use in U.S. popular culture. Come on down to the Swiss Pub and grab a beverage or appetizer while learning a thing or two from a variety of UWT faculty!
Alex is studying sustainable urban development. She loves going to events around Tacoma and telling people about them. Her goal is to use her degree to make cities more sustainable.