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S5 E3 – Have our taste standards been ruined by mass produced foods?

We’re surrounded by mass produced food and as a result, you begin to just accept the food you’re most exposed to. But what if we had more exposure to a varied diet from a young age? And what part does marketing have to play on exploiting these trends?

Best soundbite: “I can’t wait for my son to say ‘please can we have sushi tonight, daddy?'” – Barry Taylor

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  1. 19bill96

    As much as I love the Sorted boys (obviously I decided to pay for the podcasts), this episode might as well be named “First World Moaning”

    Because at the end of the day, everyone here is in a position where there is a choice to eat “real food”. The reality is we can’t feed the world with only “real food” and lots of people around the world choose to eat meh food rather than starve.

    I grew up in a part of the world where we didn’t care if the food was processed or not because the primary concern was satisfying hunger. And having fortunately come made a life for myself the part of the world where people have the privilege to have choices, it always amazes me how that choice is treated as an entitlement rather than the privilege it is.

    • 19bill96

      Again, I love Sorted

      When I wrote that comment last night (after a few drinks) what I was getting at is the idea that just because something is processed does not make it “fake food”. I think as long as it is no more harmful than naturally grown food, food is food, and involving the naturalistic fallacy into food is happening in the developed world because we have the luxury of that choice.

      That’s all I way trying to get across, sorry for the mean spirited initial comment…

  2. Annie1962

    P.S kudos to Baz for mentioning our lord and savious Elon Musk hahaha

  3. Annie1962

    I have two teen sons and trust me, there’s no way I would be buying convenience foods over fresh meat vegies etc.

    I can right now get potatoes for 8 c a kilogram , last week I bought a bag – 10kg for $3- so if you know what you’re doing, you have plenty of meals.

    When I worked I was too tired to work so I’d tend to buy rubbish in KFC etc but that now is very rare and it’s not because I don’t have time but for some reason KFC batter is the shiznit. I would looove to discover what the batter is made of. I’d never buy KFC again – I’d make it haha

    Today’s society has both parents working – both parents too tired to provide themselves with proper nutrition because it apparently takes more time to prepare – time they don’t have or well. just too tired to prepare anything properly.. so standards drop in favour of quick and unnatural fast food meals. unless you’re rich and can afford to have highly nutritious meals made for you by some exotic chef who delivers it to you via limousine.

    I hate supermarkets now and have become very aware of their sneaky marketing. Note what food is stationed around the checkouts.. while you’re waiting with a full trolley, your child sees lollies and chips strategically placed at their eye level so they’ll scream blue murder until you grab a lollie off the shelf to shut them up. Clever marketing.

    Also clever marketing is in ‘healthy’ products which really aren’t, aimed at young parents to fool them into thinking that the fruit in a squeezy tube with the bright colours is healthy for their child because well..’fruit’. It’s not. It’s full of sugar.

    Don’t be fooled.

    • alm477

      It’s not an exact dupe for KFC, but to regular flour try adding dried sage, dried thyme, salt and maybe some white pepper or a SMALL amount of cayenne. Dip the chicken in egg before putting it in the seasoned flour. You might have to play with the ratios a bit–my dad and I only ever eyeball the amounts so I don’t have proper measurements.

      This batter also works great for fried mushrooms.

  4. Esther

    @Jamie Did you really say a stopover in Calgary? I’m always surprised when non Canadians can name Canadian cities.
    I’ve actually questioned whether or not Antoni can actually cook. He seems to know food but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of substance?

    Loved the direction the discussion turned. Growing up, I used to eat a lot more crap food. McDonalds, frozen meals, you name it. That’s not to say that my parents didn’t care – I think that they were simply unaware of the extent of how bad it was for me. Even now, we have a very different definition of what’s healthy and what is not. They think that a meal with lots of meat, a bit of veg and a bowl of white rice is healthy whereas my definition of healthy would be a salad with no dressing.

    My diet has taken a significant turn from when I was growing up. I used to eat a lot more processed food and meat but I now enjoy eating vegetables more and trying new recipes/ingredients.

    I say this as I’m munching away on Cadbury Mini Eggs.

    I think that it all goes back to what the boys were saying though – awareness. Education is key and as long as you’re aware of what you’re putting into your body, there’s no harm in cheating every once in a while. Salty snacks are still my weakness but I make sure that the rest of my diet is clean enough to accommodate for it. If I feel like having a sweet treat, instead of reaching for ice cream, I’ll whip up a 3 ingredient fruit smoothie.

    My interest in cooking has grown over the years because not only do I want to know what I’m putting in my body but I enjoy the process of making my own food.

    I’m going to stop rambling now. Good topic.

  5. alm477

    This was an interesting topic! Though I do admit to some frustration because a lot of these conversations tend to–at least partially–assume that Once Upon A Time All Food Was Pure And Free From Additives/Impurities But Modern Life Has Corrupted This. And that…is not really true. I think Barry hit it on the head by saying that there is more transparency now. People have been adding things (sometimes very harmful things) to food for a very long time. As in, there is a record of a meat seller from the Roman Republic who got in trouble for painting rotten meat to look fresh. Flour whitened/bulked out with chalk or plaster was a problem in the US and Europe until at least the late 1800’s before governments started regulating that. And if you want to feel queasy look up the practices of dairy farms in the US pre-FDA, because who doesn’t want milk tainted with manure, diluted with bacteria laced water, dyed white with plaster/chalk/lead paint, and topped with pureed cow brains to take the place of cream? And this was not “big Dairy” doing this either–it could be your small time dairy farmer selling you this.

    The type and amount of research done to allow companies to sell food products is staggering, fascinating and horrifying by turns (if you’ve never heard of the term “Bliss Point” relating to food it explains why you can down a terrifyingly large portion of some foods as processed ones are often explicitly formulated to meet one).

    This comment is all over the place, but I will leave it with the sobering point that there are times/situations/people where ANY calorie is better than none at all.

    • Sorted

      That’s actually a very fair point. There is definitely far more transparency now but we didn’t do much research into the history of food production and you raise a lot of interesting points – definitely something for us to think about!

  6. Anita

    Guys, great topic! The most important thing is that we cannot expect solutions to our food, nutrition, health problems from above (government, companies – whose obvious no. 1 goal is profit-making -, the healthcare system etc.) we can only expect to eat better, feel better, do better, and maybe, just maybe have a positive impact on other people and the world at large, if WE change. Our choices (as you mentioned, we cannot expect supply to change if demand remains the same), our time management, our relationships, our priorities. It can only be done from the ground up, starting from ourselves, from small communities that share our values.
    When we talk about kids… Their relationship with food starts in the womb (if not sooner). And it breaks my heart to see parents feeding processed crap to toddlers that makes them sick physically, mentally and emotionally (if we fancy this breakup) engraving these harmful (for them, for the Earth) habits for life.
    The Internet can help create these life-changing small communities regardless of where the members are situated in the world, planting the seed here and there (maybe quite literally). Kids now grow up on the Internet and if they are talked to in their language now, they can really make a difference tomorrow. So yes please, as the others also mentioned, Sorted Kids to the rescue with homegrown fruit and veggies, local farmers, home-cooking naturally tasty dishes and having fun in the process! 😉

    • Sorted

      Thanks Anita! Yeah I think you’re right in that the change needs to come from us personally… a lot more education is needed around the subject of food and hopefully we’re beginning to get somewhere. Hmmm Sorted Kids would definitely be a fantastic idea if we ever got the chance!

  7. Dimi

    Another episode with a lot to say in not a lot of time! I also have a lot of thoughts about this but will try not to write another essay in the comments.
    I’ve spent most of my adult life working in supermarkets and am forever curious about peoples shopping habits, trends and how the way people shop has changed in the last 14 years.
    I think there needs to be some accountability from food producers and retailers and perhaps the government to make fresh whole foods more accessible to lower income earners. It may seem cheaper to just buy fresh foods, but that is definitely coming from a perspective of privilege.
    The example I like to go to is Pasta: as I’ve been trying to eat less processed foods and have been attempting more and more to make things, one thing I have stopped buying pre-made pasta sauce. My go-to mid-week pasta sauce is actually now the Sorted levelled up pasta sauce Barry and James made, and if I have time I’ll roll out some pasta too, or buy some good quality and not full of unnecessary additives/ingredients pasta. All up for 2 people the meal probably comes to $10 (Australian), so much cheaper than say a deliveroo (other food delivery services are available) of some nice pasta, but also, I can look at that and say “that’s so cheap”. But then I look at the cheapest pasta and sauce you can buy at a supermarket, and for less than $4 you could buy enough pasta and red sauce to feed a family of 4-5 people. That pasta and sauce is going to be choc-full of fillers and crap and is not a good quality meal, but for a family struggling to feed their kids and pay their bills, it might be all that they can afford.
    I think the most important point is definitely getting people to learn to cook, and to be interested in cooking as the way to solve a lot of problems. Having made that pasta sauce for a few of my friends now everyone is surprised by how easy it is to make and seem to think, before they see me do it, that making your own pasta sauce is some really hard task. Again, simple education solves that in an instant.
    As far as the original question goes, I think taste standards is probably the wrong question to be asking, because taste is subjective, and if you think something tastes good who cares if it’s mass-produced supermarket chocolate or artisan, hand crafted premium chocolate. I think the question of the quality standards of food, and the health aspects that can come with that is the obviously more important question/debate. But that is kind of what you were talking about despite the original question anyway.
    And Barry, my God son has been eating sushi since he was 3! He still asked for turkey dinosaurs and sweet potato chips for his favourite meal for his birthday the other night, despite being brought up on a vast array of fresh home cooked meals. As Jamie said, you have less control than you think you have over what children will eat sometimes.
    I will second the idea of maybe some Sorted Kids videos where you can show kids how to make fresh, healthier alternatives to the stuff they “usually” eat, like say home made salmon fish fingers over frozen “fish” fingers. But in a silly/fun way where you never once use the word healthy, and just promote it as fresh and home made and fun, which I think is a better way to get kids attention. I think getting kids in the kitchen early, and also modelling good behaviours, ie- you eating diverse, fresh, home cooked food as much as much as you reasonably can is definitely the best way to move forward.

    • Sorted

      That pasta example is really interesting and we completely agree that education would definitely help in solving the issue. And another great point of taste being subjective! Love reading these responses! Barry’s still got a lot to learn after that sushi comment it seems…

  8. Lynzilla

    Wow, so much to cover in so little time! If you think about it, the very origin of Sorted was to address these very issues; Cooking something yummy instead of eating some over-processed garbage. I have become a bit of a fresh-food evangelist; A year ago I was almost entirely subsisting on fast and processed food, grossly overweight, depressed and had some serious health issues. I quit processed food almost entirely, and decided if I couldn’t pronounce it, I wasn’t eating it. A year later, I am 200lbs lighter, health issues are clearing up, depression has been tamed, gut is happy and so am I. No magical solutions or surgeries, just the gym and the Sorted “cooking school”.
    Here in the US there is an appalling reliance on processed food; Reading labels can be so eye opening- Pitfalls are everywhere-This ‘all natural’ can of soup has almost 1500mg of sodium per serving! Aak! Snack foods are worse when you munch a bag of crisps and realize you just consumed 8 portions. Cooking fresh really doesn’t cost anymore than buying processed, and it is so easy to cook extra to freeze and enjoy later. I am spending much less per month on groceries than when I would go through the drive thru.
    Change will happen slowly, but with education and persistence change can happen! t least restaurants and fast-food joints are putting calories on menus now, so you are less likely to gobble a day and a half of calories in one sitting.
    Hopefully the new awareness of how and what we eat affects us so deeply will be passed on to the next generation. How about starting “Sorted Kids” where you can aim your content at children so they can start young? That would be amazing.

    • danielahitstheroad

      Sorted Kids – that’s a stellar idea! Not sure if the boys would have time left for that, but it sounds great. Maybe a cookbook theme ‘Things to cook with little chefs’ or a feature once a month.

      • Lynzilla

        Ultimate Battle – Toddler Edition!! (Just be sure to reward brownie points with actual brownies!)

    • Sorted

      ‘If you can’t pronounce an the ingredients, don’t eat it’ is such a clever idea – we’re so happy to hear about your journey with food! It’s so scary seeing how many bad ingredients are in seemingly ‘normal’ food, right? And we completely agree that batch cooking and freezing food is the way forward – Ben LOVES doing this!!

  9. VixReviews

    Another super interesting topic, and once again one that I come at from a very different point of view to you guys. As I have mentioned way too often, I am disabled and have celiacs. Because of my disability (and a slob of a flatmate that leaves the kitchen unusable), I have trouble with cooking often. This means I pretty much have to rely on thing that are readymeals or grab and go. And my goodness they put a lot of rubbish in most of the stuff I buy, but I don’t have other choices. So many ready meals throw random gluten-containing ingredients in where they just aren’t needed, so I often turn to the gluten-free alternative. Those, though, often pad out the meal with sugar to give it more flavour, and fat because otherwise it can end up rather dry. As to why I don’t get meals that are naturally gluten-free and fairly healthy, well, local shops don’t stock them. So maybe a big change that needs to come first is not at the production level, but at the retail level. I know that healthyish ready meals exist, they sell them at the massive supermarkets, but they just aren’t available at local stores.

    On a slightly different tangent, I am pretty lucky living in a really foodie city, so can order amazing healthy takeaways. This means that it becomes almost physically difficult to eat a rubbish ready meal when the day before you were eating fresh tapas, which has really encouraged me to put in as much energy as I can spare (which admittedly isn’t much) into finding better options as I know that otherwise I’m going to have to choke down something barely edible. This has cut down my unhealthier habits a bit as things like chocolate bars just don’t taste as good as they did before I had something really good.

    So, that was a barely relevant ramble from me… Also, go to the chocolate tree when you’re in Edinburgh, it’ll literally ruin you for other chocolate and they do guided tastings.

    • Sorted

      The smaller local shops selling healthier meals would definitely benefit a lot of people I reckon. Thanks for the Edinburgh suggestion, we’ll pass it on to the production team!

  10. posion_me_daddy

    This was a really good episode! I recently moved to Iceland and I´m now living on my own for the first time. I´ve always enjoyed cooking and food (i´ve grown up with homecooked food and good ingredients which i´m very grateful for). I try to cook as much as possible and your videos help me with inspiration and knowledge for a long time.

    I really like that you guys talk a lot about local and fresh ingredients and promoting it in the way you do. It makes such a difference to a lot of people and our whole planet:)

  11. danielahitstheroad

    What a great topic! I agree that learning to cook is key to a lot of the problems you adressed. My brother and I were taught to cook as soon as we could handle a knife without too much bloodshed and got introduced to new flavours and products all the time. I didn’t like a lot of the vegetables at the time, but I knew how to prepare them once my palate had changed and I realised that, yes, aubergines are indeed really tasty. I was also the only child at my school who had fennel bulbs for lunch when no-one else even knew what those were.
    When he was 8, my nephew’s favourite dish was truffle tagliatelle; which indicates that his Dad was a massive snob, but also shows that kids are willing to try new stuff. So just keep offering them both the products and the knowledge how to deal with them. At home or at school or through media.
    I’d also like to add that buying fresh and seasonal and local food will almost always be cheaper than processed ‘food’, not only healthwise in the long run. Sometimes you might have to hunt for the stuff you want, but I think most people waste their time for a lot less important stuff than what goes into your body.

    • Sorted

      It’s really lucky you were exposed to so much veg! Good point on the kids, we’ll pass that on to Baz and hopefully Austin will love sushi in a couple years time haha.

      And absolutely, someone else mentioned it’s even cheaper to bulk buy, cook and freeze the meals so it’s a win, win!

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