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Hold the Sugar: An Interview with Food Scientist Beverly Tepper on Genetics, Taste, and Bitter-Blockers

The director of Rutgers University's Sensory Evaluation Lab on bitter blockers, nanotechnology, and where food science has gone wrong in the past.



"Food design" can mean very different things, depending on whom you ask. Over the past couple of weeks, we've heard from a design critic, a corporate giant, a Jell-O entrpreneur, and a pair of design provocateurs about the possibilities and pitfalls of redesigning our food—and between them the conversation has ranged from the impossibility of inventing new pasta shapes to the need to rethink agricultural subsidies, and from DIY digestive system hacks to flavor-changing chewing gum.

The food scientist Beverly Tepper is director of the Sensory Evaluation Laboratory at Rutgers University. Her research combines nutritional science and psychology with the genetics of taste perception in order to better understand the links between flavor, diet, and health. We talked about some of the innovations she thinks will reshape our food in the coming years, where food scientists have gone wrong in the past, and what she thinks of molecular gastronomy.

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