Fast Food Nation

Grainger had brought a dozen small glass bottles from

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Unformatted text preview: ot pits, it contains traces of hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison. Benzaldehyde derived through a different process — by mixing oil of clove and the banana flavor, amyl acetate — does not contain any cyanide. Nevertheless, it is legally considered an artificial flavor and sells at a much lower price. Natural and artificial flavors are now manufactured at the same chemical plants, places that few people would associate with Mother Nature. Calling any of these flavors “natural” requires a flexible attitude toward the English language and a fair amount of irony. The small and elite group of scientists who create most of the flavor in most of the food now consumed in the United States are called “flavorists.” They draw upon a number of disciplines in their work: biology, psychology, physiology, and organic chemistry. A flavorist is a chemist with a trained nose and a poetic sensibility. Flavors are created by blending scores of different chemicals in tiny amounts, a process governed by scientific principles but demanding a fair amount of art. In an age when delicate aromas, su...
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