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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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Adventures in Food Design: An Interview with Sam Bompas, Jellymonger

In which Bompas talks to GOOD about playing with food, being a jelly entrepreneur, and a gigantic cake for Will & Kate's royal wedding.


No offense to GOOD, but if I could work anywhere else in the world, it would probably be at Sam Bompas and Harry Parr's south London jelly factory*. [*NOTE: Jelly is known as Jell-O in the U.S.]

Sam and Harry launched their own company, Bompas & Parr, in 2007, with an architectural jelly banquet that included a wobbly Millennium Bridge designed by Norman Foster and ended in a food fight, during which someone hurled a jelly St. Paul's Cathedral out of the window.

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Golden Rice and Glow-In-The-Dark Jello: Imagining the Future of Food Design

How should we make sure that our food is being redesigned for good, rather than just for profit?


Food—the substance itself, as well as its methods of production and consumption—has always been the subject of tinkering and design. The color of carrots, the shape of silverware, and the layout of supermarkets are all products of human ingenuity applied to the business of nourishment.

Today, food is being redesigned more fundamentally and at a faster pace than ever before. This process is taking place in a wide variety of different contexts, with very different goals in mind, from corporate food technologists re-shaping salt crystals to maintain palatability while combating heart disease, to synaesthetic experiences designed by artist-entrepreneurs such as Marije Vogelzang. On the one hand, the Gates Foundation is backing genetically modified "golden rice," engineered to contain higher levels of the essential micronutrient, beta-carotene, while, on the other, design provocateurs Dunne & Raby recently proposed expanding the amount of food available for human consumption through a range of DIY digestive system hacks.

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Promise Neighborhoods, the presidential initiative to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone nationwide, have faced rough waters on Capitol Hill in recent days. Last week, during an increasingly tight budgetary environment, a House panel sliced the president’s initial request of $210 million down to $60 million.

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