BostonTalks: The Science of Food

THU, MAR 25, 2021 (51:50)

Why do we make the choices we make when it comes to food? GBH Curiosity Desk’s Edgar B. Herwick III interviews two experts on the science of food to uncover some of the fascinating and surprising facts that influence our food consumption.

+ BIO: Vayu Maini Rekdal, PhD

Dr. Vayu Maini Rekdal is a scientist, chef, educator and a current Miller Institute Fellow at University of California, Berkeley.

Vayu fell in love with cooking at a young age in his multicultural home in Stockholm, Sweden. He first moved to the U.S to work in restaurants, but the flavors, textures, and sensations of the kitchen eventually led him to scientific research. His journey in both cooking and science has brought him to restaurants and laboratories around the world. He recently earned his PhD in biochemistry from Harvard University, where he studied how bacteria living in the human gut digest food and medicine. Vayu’s current research explores how we harness microorganisms to sustainably produce delicious and nutritious foods.

In addition to pushing the boundaries of knowledge in the laboratory, Vayu loves sharing his passion for cooking and science with the public. He is the founder of the Young Chefs Program, which teaches scientific methods and concepts through the language of food.

+ BIO: Rachel Herz, PhD

Rachel Herz, PhD is a Neuroscientist, actively involved in research on the psychology of smell and taste. She consults on smell, taste, food and flavor to multiple sectors, and is on the faculty at Brown University and Boston College.

She has been conducting research on the senses, emotion, perception, motivated behavior and cognition since 1990. Dr. Herz is a TEDx speaker, has published over 95 original research papers, received numerous awards and grants, co-authored scholarly handbooks, and is an adjunct professor in the Medical School of Brown University and part-time faculty in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Boston College.

She is also a professional consultant to various industries regarding scent, taste, food and flavor, and is frequently called upon as an expert witness in legal cases involving olfaction. Dr. Herz is the author of several academic and popular science books including the leading college textbook on Sensation & Perception (Oxford University Press) now in its 6th edition, The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (2007; Harper Collins), which was selected as a finalist for the “2009 AAAS Prize for Excellence in Science Books,” and That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion (2012; W.W. Norton & Co), which analyzes the emotion of disgust from culture to neuroscience, and was listed as a New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice”. Her latest book Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food (2018; W.W. Norton & Co) explores how our senses, brain and psychology govern our perception of food, and the experiences and consequences of eating. Why You Eat What You Eat was a finalist for the “2018 Readable Feast Awards” and listed among the “Best Food Books of 2018” by The Smithsonian and The New Yorker.

Browse Dr. Herz’s books here.

Image Credit: Kathleen McMann

Partner
WGBH
Series
BostonTalks
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