Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Eating with our ears" Explained

I'm still periodically deep into Mary Roach's book "Gulp."  I say "periodically" because it is intense reading for a person who looks forward to Wednesdays to go to "Midweek Madness" to read a compendium of supermarket trashbloids.*

When we bite into something crunchy (carrot, potato chip) our ears tell our stomachs "This is okay - it's fresh."  But our ears are somewhat flawed -- what we hear as one crunch per bite is actually hundreds of individual sound bursts.

Scientists (who clearly have nothing better to do) have arrived at between 90 to 100 decibels as the perfect "crunch" sound level.  And these scientists are a peevish bunch - crunch food makers don't consult them, but just ask the volunteer, "That taste good to you?"

That's why Roach is such an interesting writer.  Not only does she find weird stuff, but she researches it thoroughly - interviewing the scientists face-to-face and asking the tough questions. 

* patent pending 

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