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The Science of Your Favorite Foods

"The Science of Your Favorite Foods" artwork. Cartoon of pizza, hamburger, doughnut, fries, icecream, and cake.


NGSS Standards:


Cross Cutting Concept:

Systems and System Models

619- The Science of Your Favorite Foods
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What’s your favorite food? Why does it taste so good? It turns out, what we think is tasty isn’t just a matter of opinion. It’s science! Ecologist and science writer Rob Dunn takes us on a journey back in time, before kitchens, cooking, and even farming! We find out how our ancestors’ tastes shaped our own cravings - and how our experiences lead us to pick our favorites.


This episode was based on Rob Dunn and Monica Sanchez's book for adults, "Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human." Find out more about it here:

Listen to our other episode with Rob, "Discover The Wildlife of Your Home."

We did a really cool interactive audio course with Rob based on this episode! It's available for purchase and download at Himalaya Learning.


How do scientists study and learn about taste? Turns out, it's more complicated than putting your tongue on things - but much more interesting.

This video explores more about the evolution of taste:

This video looks at why kids & grownups have such different tastes:

And, here's a whole TV show about the science of taste! (It's public television, so you know it's healthy even though they talk about ice cream.)

Follow up with this lesson plan and video from National Geographic on "how we taste what we taste."


As Rob says, when you think about our ancestors, think about gatherers. Hunter gatherer societies still exist today.

Scientists are still learning more about these ancient cultures. Think only men hunted and women gathered? Think again! New research challenges these assumptions.


Lindsay and Marshall are grownups, but they both still love sweets! Marshall says he has so many favorite desserts, it's impossible to choose. Lindsay feels the same, but particuarly enjoys cool creamy custards and her family's famous ice cream cake. We both love tacos.

What are your favorite foods? Draw a picture and describe why you like them - from our hunter gatherer taste preferences, to your own experience!


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