Horizon (1964) s52e02 Episode Script

The Truth About Taste

In a warm climate, in Florida, this man is chasing his dream.
He's in pursuit of the perfect tomato.
There are people who are growing up today who have never tasted a really good tomato, that don't even know what a good tomato is and we need to fix that.
He wanted to create a fruit that is juicier, tastier and sweeter than any you're likely to find on a shelf.
And he's done it.
The reason these tomatoes are sweet is because of smells he's captured in these jars.
So he may have found a way of making things taste sweeter without adding any extra sugar.
And that's because of a trick that happens in your brain.
Now, can you fool the brain? Can you provide it with sweet that's safe and that isn't sugar? I think that's the Holy Grail.
Taste is our most sensuous and indulgent of senses.
It turns out that the story of why we like what we like is a lot more surprising than you think.
Food Mmm, yummy! SHE CHUCKLES We all have a favourite food.
All the textures, the flavours, the smellsand it's just wonderful! For some of us, it's sweet.
Chocolate brownie or rich chocolate torte.
For others, it's savoury.
I love shellfish and I love octopus.
That's probably my ideal.
What you love eating is as unique as a fingerprint.
Cream cheese, like, really fattening cream cheese, like, you know, that's just delicious and that.
Of all our senses, taste is the one we most associate with pleasure.
Good old apple crumble and sticky toffee pudding.
Crunchy on the outside and warm on the inside.
Yet the story of what happens when you taste is anything but simple.
If you really want to understand how taste works, you need an environment far removed from the clutter of a kitchen.
Today, a group of people have come to this lab in Berkshire to undergo a rather special test.
They want to find out whether they have what it takes to be a professional taster.
Someone who can judge the taste of the food you might one day eat.
There'll be two parts to the test.
The first part will be a familiarisation of the five tastes and I will give you five samples and take you through what these five samples are.
Most of these tastes are ones we all recognise.
746 - this one is sweet.
625 - this sample is sour.
Bitter and salty are also pretty well known.
But the fifth one, savoury, or umami, is a lot trickier.
198 - and take a couple of sips, really focus on this one - this one is umami.
When it comes to our would-be professionals, it's not a familiar one.
There was one, I admit, that I didn't know.
Um Mumbathat one.
Is it amani? That was a bit Never heard of that one before.
Never heard ofwhat is it, umagi? I don't even know what that is, but I'm going to find out today.
With the familiarisation over, the test really starts.
They are given much weaker versions of the basic five tastes.
They have to work out which is which.
What makes it so difficult is that there are no other cues that we all normally take for granted - no colours, textures, smells to help them decide.
No talking during this test, it's your own opinions that I want.
Already, some candidates are finding it easier than others.
Bitter and sour are often the hardest to tell apart.
There were some that I thought I was OK with, but, on the whole, it was quite difficult.
I think the umami was pretty easy to work out.
Very difficult to distinguish the flavours, they were quite slight, very delicate.
The salty was OK and the sweet.
Bitter was very hard.
But now, tasters have to undergo a second test that they weren't expecting.
They will have to identify a different variety of substances, but not with their mouths.
They'll be given a variety ranging from rosemary, fresh ginger .
to vanilla.
What I'd like you to do is write next to the corresponding three-digit code what aroma you think is in the tube.
This test will be even harder than the first.
If you are not entirely sure what it is that you can smell, put something down that it reminds you of and you still might get a point for that.
I'm normally the one that says, "Oh, can you smell that?" and nobody else can, so let's see.
I think I probably got about half of them.
I'd say it's pretty good.
Maybe a bit easier than the taste.
It was harder than I thought, actually.
I haven't actually got the actual smell, but I know what it's like.
Today, only 5 out of the 14 were found to have the potential to go on to be a professional.
That's normal for a test like this.
They could be the ones who taste the food you'll have tomorrow.
I didn't like curry, mushy peas.
Taste is bizarre.
Mushrooms, I couldn't stand them.
Anything like whelks.
I used to be scared of mushrooms.
It doesn't even stay the same.
We all remember foods we used to hate.
Olives, I tried them a few times and I hated them.
I hated them! But they're my favourite now.
I like liver now, but I hated it then.
I used to hate mushrooms and now, I can think of nothing better when it comes to a burger than a Portobello with pesto.
It's clear that each of us develops a highly individual set of likes and dislikes over our lives.
But the process by which you acquire and change your tastes is starting to reveal its secrets.
At Birmingham University, Professor Jackie Blissett has been trying to understand the very earliest part of this process.
Children's eating is absolutely fascinating.
When you think of the individual differences that you see in children's willingness, for example, to try new foods.
That really drove me to try and understand a little bit more about the factors that were either intrinsic to themselves or in their environments that make the difference between those children who are happy to taste pretty much anything and the kids who are really, really reluctant to try.
When it comes to taste, you're born with some preferences - they're intrinsic.
Others happen because of tastes you experience - your environment.
This way, love.
Jackie is trying to discover how these two fit together.
This is going to be a really special tasting again, I think.
The children will be offered eight different foods.
Some they already know they don't like .
others are brand new.
Their challenge is to try to taste them all.
The first child is Abenna.
Her mother has told Jackie that she is a picky eater.
Have you ever had those before? No.
Jackie is interested in why there are ones she doesn't like.
Which one of those do you think looks the most yummy? That! That one looks the most yummy, why? The pomegranate, cos I've tasted them before Faced with some unfamiliar sights, Abenna follows her instincts, instincts we're all born with, and goes straight for something sweet.
Babies, very, very early in life have this preference for sweeter taste, not surprisingly, because the taste of milk is sweet.
High levels of sweetness, fattiness, all of these things indicate good calorie sources.
And then, if you had to choose another really yummy one The figs? Try it.
The sweet tastes go first, so now her choice becomes more difficult.
I don't like sprouts Again, Abenna's instincts cut in - she's wary of bitter.
Things like this, it looks all like We are all programmed, really, to avoid bitter tastes wherever we can, they might be poisonous, they might have high levels of toxin.
So bitter tastes are often very problematic for parents, in particular, to introduce to their children.
I don't like mushrooms They're all squashed.
Oh, squashed.
So far, Abenna is reacting as nature has programmed her to do - she's drawn to sweet and tries to avoid bitter.
But now, another influence starts to exert itself - her own experience.
Which one do you think looks the most yummy now? SHE CHUCKLES Oh, it's difficult.
Sprouts, cos I've tasted them before.
Sprouts? Do you want to try it? They're all right.
She's thinks she's chosen the least worst option, but then something telling happened - this time, the sprout she thought she hated tasted fine.
Because she'd been exposed to the vegetable before, it overcame her intrinsic dislike of bitter.
When you see something like vegetables, children are going to have to have a number of exposures to those vegetables to find them familiar, to have tasted them often enough to have acquired a reasonable preference for them.
So there isn't a magic, overnight effect.
It is often a long process of gradually learning to like the tastes that aren't particularly innately preferred.
And this is the key to how we all develop our tastes - we develop a liking if we keep tasting it.
Children at around two or three years old, if they're relatively fussy eaters, those patterns track through childhood and into adulthood, so it's absolutely important, really, really important that dietary range is as broad as it can be before those children reach that kind of age.
What about this one? What about the litchi, have you tried that one before? But there's another surprise that may explain why you like some rather strong tastes.
Even when you're tiny.
If a mother is consuming a large amount of something like garlic when she's pregnant, we know that that flavour passes into the amniotic fluid, and some research has shown that babies who are exposed to some specific flavours in utero actually continue to show preferences for those flavours later.
Do you want to give it a little try? And what's true of garlic may also be true of chilli and onions.
Do you want to try some now? Mmm What we taste when we're little has a powerful influence on us.
But scientists have also found your sensitivity changes as you age.
Your sense of bitter fades.
So those foods you found it hard to like can become that bit easier to start to enjoy.
But it isn't as simple as that for all of us.
Gainesville, Florida.
This is Professor Linda Bartoshuk.
Linda may not be a household name, but she's probably done more in her career to understand your sense of taste than anyone else alive.
Food, in the sense of taste, is very much involved in our appreciation of life, it produces enormous pleasure.
What intrigued Linda was not just which tastes we each like, but how strong some of us seemed to like them.
Why do some people cover their food with hot sauces and others never touch them? When I started working in taste, and it was a lot of years ago, we knew a great deal about observational tastes, from people cooking, paying attention to what they ate, we didn't know very much about the mechanisms.
She was interested in how sensitive different people were to the same food.
It's easy to do a basic test.
If you are adventurous, you can put the whole thing in your mouth.
If you want to take it a little slower, taste the little corner of the paper, and if you don't taste it, put a little bit more in.
Her testing equipment is simple.
A piece of paper soaked in a very bitter chemical.
I don't really taste anything.
You don't taste it? Very little.
Well, for some, it is.
It's very bitter.
This sort of test has shown over and over again that different people do have different reactions to the same taste.
Linda wanted to see if there was an anatomical reason for this.
Her task was daunting.
She had to take an extremely close look at thousands of tongues.
Taste buds are buried in what are called fungiform papillae.
They will stand out when you stain the surface.
But you still have to count them.
Counting papillae is not the most fun in the world but the best thing to do is take a picture.
And if you've got a picture, you can go back, look at it, count and that's what we did.
And indeed the group of people who were intensely sensitive actually had more fungiform papillae.
Those with fewer, tasted less.
Five per six millimetres, it's that precise, and you're at the bottom of the scale.
60 and she has a new name for you - supertaster.
The people at the end with five are really having pastel experiences with taste in food.
The people at the end with 60, taste in food are neon to them, they're extremely intense.
Today, Linda's comparing the tongues of Jenny, who's thinks she has a very strong sense of taste, with Derek, who's thinks he hasn't.
If Jenny is a supertaster, she should be anatomically different.
I look at this screen and I can tell right away this is a supertaster tongue, this is not.
We see many, many more fungiform papillae here, many fewer here, larger here than these.
And that's typical of these two groups.
We already know that Jennifer tastes things more intensely than Derek, so I expected her tongue to show that she's a supertaster and it does.
In fact, around 15% of the people she studied are supertasters.
But the question is whether how intensely you taste affects what you eat.
You know, you might ask, is it better or worse to be a supertaster? Well, the truth is, it depends on what you're asking about.
Supertasters are better off in some circumstances and worse off in others.
A supertaster is going to experience at least three times the burn from a chilli pepper as another person.
Smoking and drinking have rather unpleasant characteristics to supertasters and they don't do as much of that.
Bitter is going to be more intense and bitter is something we don't like, so vegetables tend to be bitter, supertasters don't eat as many vegetables.
So what about Linda? I hate to admit, as a person working in this area, that I am about as far away from a supertaster as you can get.
And I know it's true, my taste world is pastel, nothing is terribly strong.
Never in my life have I perceived anything to be too sweet, most people can't say that.
So think again of your favourite meal.
Bread and butter pudding with a smooth, creamy custard.
That's just divine! What you like, you like for good reasons.
Partly, it's because of the instincts you were born with.
Chocolate, I love chocolate.
Anything sweet.
That's my thing, really.
Sweet things.
Your tastes will be partly what you ate as a child.
The earliest memory of food I have in childhood is cake.
They could be partly because of what your mother ate before you were even born.
I love my chilli.
I like it so that I'm actually breaking out a bit of a sweat.
I don't know why anyone would like something that made them cry, but I do.
But there is something that shapes your taste even more than what you're putting into your mouths.
Molly Birnbaum's has had a lifetime fascination with food.
In 2005, she was determined that this interest was something she wanted to pursue.
When I was in college, I fell in love with food, with cooking, with being by the stove, with bringing people together into my kitchen and feeding them.
I read more cookbooks than I did textbooks, I was obsessed.
I knew that's what I wanted to be - a chef.
Molly got her first job as a trainee and was in her element.
I would get home, in the wee hours of the morning, smelling like veal stock and butter and the fat from the deep fryer, but I loved it.
I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing it.
She had found her purpose.
And was about to enrol in the Culinary Institute of America.
This is what I wanted to do, this was the first of many steps towards becoming a chef, something that I loved and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.
But then, one morning in August, I went for a jog.
It was a drizzly morning, it was an early morning and I was hit by a car.
Molly had multiple injuries, including a broken pelvis and a fractured skull.
Slowly, her body began to heal.
But the head trauma she had suffered started to reveal other damage.
It was a month before I realised that something else was wrong.
And that happened when my stepmother, Cindy, baked an apple crisp.
It's one of my favourite desserts.
The scent of that dessert is just one of the most beautiful things, I think, that exists, with the cinnamon and the butter and the fruit.
But when she pulled it out of the oven, everyone in the room was oohing and ahing over this smell and she held it underneath my face so I could inhale and I could feel the steam in my nose, which was warm and thick, but there was no smell whatsoever.
In that moment, she realised she had lost her sense of smell.
I could feel the texture of the crisp berry topping, I could feel the temperature, and I could just feel them in my mouth, this mush, sweet mush.
But everything that made it apple crisp, the flavour that I loved and recognised and remembered, was gone.
It was just nothingness.
In fact, her sense of taste was not damaged.
So she could taste sweet and sour, for instance.
But because she couldn't smell, there was no flavour to enjoy.
I relied on texture, on temperature, on the visuals of food.
Two bowls of ice cream, chocolate and vanilla, without looking at the colour, they would taste exactly the same to me.
Eating meat was flavourless, texture blob, some of it felt like eating cardboard.
I put hot sauce on anything and everything, because it at least gave me tingles, which was better than nothing.
But I was uninterested in all of it.
When Molly lost the ability to make the connection between the worlds of her senses and the memories that had gone with them, she felt lost.
I missed the smells of food that my mother cooked when I was a child.
I missed the smells of foods and dishes, and places and people that reminded me of my past, because smell, I very quickly realised, is so tied to our memory, our emotional memories, and I wondered who I would be if I could no longer make those memories for the future.
The simple truth is that what most of us think of as taste is, in fact, smell.
How taste and aroma come together to become the flavours we enjoy is at the forefront of research.
Your system of smell is actually made of two parts.
Both operate whenever you eat, say, a strawberry.
The first thing I do when I'm going to eat this strawberry - smell it, you get a wonderful strawberry bouquet, put it in my mouth.
When something is in your mouth and you start chewing, compounds called volatiles are released.
I'm chewing .
and swallowing forces the volatiles up behind my palette and into my nose.
The aroma that comes through our nose is called orthonasal smell.
The smell system in your throat and mouth - retronasal.
Finally, all these signals come together in your brain.
It's a brain construction.
The brain sends it to an area that also gets taste.
They interact and that's flavour.
The flavours we experience are unique to us, they are subjective, we can't share them.
I can't experience a strawberry through your senses, only through my own.
So your sense of flavour doesn't really happen in your tongue or your nose, but in your brain.
And that's why it connects to your emotion and your memory.
When Molly lost that connection, it was to Linda that she had turned.
You really have to understand that this loss that Molly suffered is devastating to your life.
And it happensit makes people miserable when it happens.
But Linda could only offer sympathy, she had no remedy.
No-one was expecting what happened to Molly some months later.
I was alone in the kitchen, I had a bunch of fresh rosemary, the herb, and I was chopping it.
Then, all of a sudden, there was this scent.
And it just took over my entire head, it took over my brain, it was earthy and herby, and, immediately, it reminded me of a moment in my childhood when I had gone horseback riding out west and there must have been rosemary bushes.
But it just this incredibly powerful rosemary scent.
And I remember I looked around, I was just like, "Oh, my God, it's back, it's here, it's this!" No-one's quite sure how this happened.
But, somehow, the olfactory nerves linking her smell to her brain became active again.
And slowly, she started to recover her smell and her memories.
Some of the first ones to come back after rosemary were ones that meant a lot to me.
Chocolate was one of the first things that I could smell.
The sweet grape scent of wine, I could smell.
Foods that I gained most pleasure from and they were related to emotion, to my past, to happy moments in my life.
I felt that my nose was doing the good fight to get those back first.
Molly's experience of regaining a rich and deep sense of taste also underlies how, for each of us, our sense of taste is connected to our emotional experiences.
Emotions and memories reinforce taste pathways and connections in our brains.
Memories from childhood are often the strongest.
I was about five or six, watching my mum prepare stuffed vine leaves.
You could smell the lamb wafting through the house and sometimes, I used to go down and sneak one when she wasn't looking.
There was five of us, all sat round the table and my mum used to put this big dish in the middle and we all used to have a bit of Yorkshire pudding.
But for some of us, that pleasure has started to control us.
I'm a bit of a chocoholic, you see.
So I enjoy chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with nuts in, everything like that.
Once you eat it, you get these brain waves and you think, "Oh, this is really nice.
Go and get another one.
" You know, "I want more of this.
" It's quite pathetic, really, that a grown woman, who can hold down a job and look after two children, can't go to bed if there's a bar of chocolate in the fridge, but that's just the way it is, I can't.
Now, a growing number of researchers are starting to wonder if our understanding of taste could have a practical use.
If we could use it to trick ourselves into liking less unhealthy foods.
And at the forefront of this work is one substance - sugar.
In downtown Chicago, something rather bizarre is happening.
It's taking place in a gourmet kitchen.
The man behind the vision is award-winning chef Homaro Cantu, who is taking a rather unexpected approach to food.
What we'll never get rid of is the demand for sweets, for fatty foods, for foods that, you know, degrade our health.
We need to make food that tastes good, that's healthy for us, that tastes like junk food.
When I grew up, we were homeless for three years and we went from homeless shelter to homeless shelter.
And the food that we had there was leftover junk food and, even to this day, I still love that food, it's delicious.
Inspired by his childhood memories, Homaro has a mission - to find a way of reducing the amount of sugar we eat, but without giving up sweet foods.
We're attacking just one small part of the obesity epidemic, we are just trying to get desserts to be made without sugar and we want them to taste better than the real thing.
At the heart of his plan is one small African berry.
Its potential to turn sour into sweet has been known about for centuries, but there's a snag.
This is freeze-dried miracle berry.
This has a value of probably around 400.
This little thing right here, it's more expensive than truffles.
And this is where he has a secret.
What we do is we have to turn it into this.
It's basically hundreds of times cheaper than that.
But it does the same exact thing.
We add secret ingredients to it and what we are going to do here is just, you know, tell you basically what this does.
The power of the berry powder is that within minutes of eating it, foods containing acid will taste really sweet.
So first, you eat the powder, pause and then any bitter citric flavour you eat afterwards will be transformed into a sweet one.
I like to describe it like this - not only is it the sweetest lemon that you've ever had, it's the tastiest lemon you've ever had.
Each evening, the miracle berry sensation will be part of the guests' experience.
But when they arrive, they know nothing of this.
This is the real deal - you are going to eat something and then the flavours change while it's in your mouth.
That's a whole new world in gastronomy that's never been tapped into.
It's like the real Willy Wonka part of food.
You know, we've heard a lot about Willy Wonka and science and food, but that's all child play compared to what happens when you flavour trip at iNG Restaurant.
Tonight, the dessert is course number six.
This is when the guests are introduced to the star of the show - the berry.
Basically, what we give to the diners, we'll just give them a little spoon of this, they will eat that, it'll take about 60 seconds.
Once the lemon tastes sweet, then they keep eating whatever they're eating.
The dessert is sugar-free and bland, but after eating the miracle berry powder, the hope is it will taste sweet and interesting.
In the centre here, you have the miracle berry in its powdered form.
What you do, you take the powder, put all of it onto your tongue, let it soak into your palate.
Once it's completely dissolved, take a bite of the lemon and if it tastes like lemonade, that means it's working.
Once the powder is sitting on the tongue, it needs to be combined with acid.
Acid makes the sweet receptors pucker up and our perception of sweetness explode.
It's sweeter now! The berries contain a chemical, a glycoprotein that's been called miraculin.
This changes shape with acid, enhancing the sweet receptors so powerfully that it drowns out the sour.
Oh, wow! It just Boom! It just wakes you up.
Oh, that's nice.
This feels good, it doesn't, like, roll me off the back of the chair.
It's good! I like it.
Clearly, the berry gets a reaction, but there's the problem of the gap.
You have to eat the powder before the food.
If you combine them, the science suggests that you'll lose the effect.
The problem here is that you have to eat this berry and then you drink your soda or you eat your cookie.
You know, that's for a small group of people, like, diabetics would do that.
But what about, you know, a six-year-old kid? They don't care what's going on on their tongue, they just want their cookie.
So what we're going to solve is just that.
We're going to put the berry in the cookie, so, that way, when you eat it, it tastes sweet, but there's no glucose in this cookie whatsoever.
Do you think you're going to be able to do that? It is quite a difficult thing to do, isn't it? Uh We've already done it.
We've done it on a small scale, and now we need to take it to the next level.
Just because I can make something in a lab, it doesn't mean that it's ready for prime time.
So that's our next step.
This challenge of tricking our taste, luring us away from the seduction of sugar, is being taken up.
Working in a quiet corner of Florida, Professor Harry Klee had come up with his own plan.
A plan that was to have implications that he could not have imagined.
He began his quest not in the present, but by delving back into our past.
It's kind of the reverse of what we normally do in science.
We're going back 150 years to recapture what was lost.
Harry was casting back to a bygone age to help with our contemporary problem with eating.
There's no doubt there's a problem with obesity in the developed world.
We are eating junk foods, because we don't have foods that are healthy for us that taste as good.
He started by looking at the fruit we eat - crops, he believes, are increasingly grown for shelf life, not for flavour.
He decided to focus on one plant.
There are people who are growing up today who have never tasted a really good tomato, that don't even know what a good tomato is and we need to fix that.
What inspired him to choose tomatoes was a chance finding in an old bookstore.
I found this reference in a very old book from 1906 to these varieties that kind of stirred my interest and I said, "Well, it'd be really neat "if we could find these varieties, "and grow them and see what they taste like.
" Harry set off on a massive tomato trail.
He sent off to seed banks, he even followed up on people's personal preferences.
We got large, round, red ones, we got oblong yellow ones, we got green and black ones.
We knocked on every door we could and checked every website and collected several hundred of these varieties from all different sources around the world.
Logistically, this has been an absolute nightmare, trying to grow these plants up.
Some of the plants do really well, some of them do really badly, some of the really good plants give lousy fruit and you just wonder, "What did people see in this tomato that they actually saved it?" After two of years of research, they'd recovered 200 lost varieties.
They then set out to understand the chemistry that made the good ones taste the way they did.
We knew that sugars were going to be important and we knew that acids were going to be important and we knew that the gaseous compounds that you smell, what we call volatiles, some of them were going to be important.
But we really didn't have an idea which ones would really drive people to like or dislike a tomato.
Harry's quest began.
Understanding the role of the sugars and acids would be the straightforward part.
Finding out whether the volatiles would be important and, if so, which, would be tricky.
As it turned out, this knowledge of volatiles was going to have implications way beyond tomatoes.
But by the end of the process, what Harry noticed was the sheer wealth of detail that he was collecting.
There was incredible variation from tomato to tomato.
Far, far greater than we ever expected for the different varieties.
We'd see a hundred or a thousand fold differences sometimes between different varieties, in some of these chemicals.
Armed with this new knowledge, Harry set up trials.
100 volunteers were recruited and asked to rate the tomatoes.
Which ones did they like best and what was it about the tomatoes that they liked or disliked? One of the things that we learned early on was that sweetness is a huge component of a good-tasting tomato.
People like sweet.
Harry then looked at the chemistry of these favoured tomatoes, chosen largely because of their sweetness.
And a pattern started to emerge.
What was really surprising to us was that certain volatile chemicals were actually making those fruits taste sweeter than the amount of sugar that was in them.
What we found was things that we smell were enhancing the perception on our tongue.
And that was unexpected.
In other words - our sense of smell means that two tomatoes with the same amount of sugar could taste very different to us.
If one of those tomatoes has more volatiles, it could taste much sweeter.
These volatiles were intriguing.
I have a few of them right here.
This first one - geranial.
To me, it smells like flowers, perfume It's not a bad smell, it doesn't smell anything like a tomato.
It doesn't smell sweet.
One of the volatiles that was a huge surprise was this one here - isovaleric acid.
This is a really nasty chemical, most of the people in my lab describe it as the smell of dirty socks or a locker room.
It's really terrible and you smell this and you can think of .
men running around naked with their underwear and yet, this turns out to be a really important chemical that's contributing to the perception of sweetness.
Not a single one of them smells like tomato, not a single one of them particularly smells anything like a food product even and yet, it's the combination of all of those chemicals that make the tomato smell the way it smells and make it taste the way it tastes.
Harry now knew which of the ancient, heirloom tomatoes were the sweet ones.
He knew they were the ones with extra volatiles.
But they were really hard to grow.
What he wondered was, could he cross-breed these old, sweet favourites with the hardy modern tomato to get the best of both worlds? Can we take those varieties that people really like but are just horrible to grow? Can we very quickly turn those into something that still tastes great, but actually has some performance of a modern variety.
Two years later, he had the result.
It was hardy and, he thought, delicious.
Now, it was all down to the consumers.
Much to our shock, people said, "Hey, we like these just as much.
"They're just as good as the heirlooms.
" And we're thinking, "This is great!" Because these things make five times as much fruit and the fruit are so much healthier and the plants are so much healthier and they taste just as good.
But now, Harry's success with tomatoes gave him another idea.
Something that he had never set out to do.
What if he could take these volatiles, nature's natural sweeteners, and use them in cakes or desserts? The next logical step is, "Well, what happens if we take a food "that has sugar, that's desirable because it's sweet, "what if we take some of that sugar out "and replace it with these volatiles "that synergize to make it taste just as sweet, "with less sugar in it?" And if we do that, then we have the potential to take foods and improve them.
Harry's work on tomatoes could lead to a natural, calorie-free, sweet alternative to sugar.
It's a bold idea, but he has been developing it with the most pre-eminent scientist in taste.
We found a lot of volatiles that were adding to the sweetness of the tomato and had nothing to do with the sugar content of the tomato.
So, all of a sudden, we've got volatiles creating sweet.
Together, they've been preparing tests to see how they can apply this to other sugary foods.
So far, it looks like it's going to work.
We have to do all the experiments indicated - take it out, put it in something else and see if it has an effect.
But the truth is, I think the chances are that this is going to work broadly in a lot of different foods and beverages.
It's possible that what started out as a mission to promote the humble tomato, could actually help our troubled relationship with sugar.
In theory, the things that we're doing with the volatile enhancement of sweetness could apply to fruit juices, could apply to desserts, could apply to almost any food where you are combining products.
There's no reason that we can't make something taste just as sweet with less sugar in it.
You could see that very soon.
That could impact some of the products that are sold today.
Our brains tell us to eat sugar, they tell us to go after sweet.
It's hardwired in the brain.
Now, can you fool the brain? Can you provide it with sweet that's safe and that isn't sugar? I think that's the Holy Grail.
Looking for different ways to trick our sense of taste has become an active area of scientific research.
Although the very idea of manipulating what we eat, even to make us healthy, raises obvious concerns.
But even if it can be done, there's another hurdle to cross and that leads us into a different science - the science of us.
It's 6am at the Smithsonian Zoo, in Washington.
And time for breakfast.
Preparing and delivering the right meal for each animal for the day ahead.
Good morning, lion, tiger.
Your diets have been delivered.
Have a good day.
Nutrition to wolf keeper.
Your diets have been dropped off.
Have a good day.
Animal scientist and nutritionist Michael Power knows exactly what each animal receives.
Animals with their food preference have evolved over long periods of time.
When you bring animals into captivity, you have a responsibility to them.
We have to give them a selection and choice, while we also make sure the nutrition is right.
This means they have to put together a diet that resembles what they've evolved to eat.
We too were once on the same evolutionary path, but we've branched off.
We, as a species, have actually changed the fact that we're capable of manipulating our environment and changing things and actually, making our external environment more like we want it, as opposed to the way it is.
We know we've evolved to prefer high-fat and high-sugar foods, but, in nature, they never occur together in one food.
Bananas are high in sugar but are fat-free, avocadoes are the opposite.
We can now put those all together in the same thing.
You come up with a candy bar with, like, salty nuts in it and nice fat in there and lots of sugar and chocolate all over and everything.
We only have to think about it.
We simply say, "Well, what do we want?" That's all we have to worry about.
What do we want and what's easy to get.
Also, the speed at which we have changed our environment means that we have not evolved to deal with the endless supply.
Our ancestors never needed to know when to stop, because there were always times when food was scarce.
We never evolved a protective barrier against too much, because there never was too much before.
The external environment put the barrier on and now, though, we can produce too much and we love it.
And so would all the animals in the zoo.
Given a chance, they'd choose a diet like ours, only the zoo doesn't let them.
In a sense, what you look at is the animals in the zoo are probably in general getting a better diet than most of the people who come to watch them.
And this is the puzzle.
Why do we willingly eat too much of the food we know is bad for us? There's been years and years of study, trying to figure out what controls our appetite, how can we control what we eat.
And all of it basically revolves around looking at it from a nutritional basis.
The problem with human beings is that that's not what food means only to us any more.
We eat in meals, we eat with other people.
So now, a meal, sitting and eating, has more to do than with just the food, with just the nutrition, it has to do with the whole social context.
Very, very different scenario from what a chimpanzee does or an orang-utan does or a gorilla does.
It could be a pleasurable one, it could have politics involved, it could have sex involved.
It could be dating, it could be meeting new people.
The business lunch.
A meal is something we use to accomplish purposes besides filling our bellies.
We are the ultimate social animal.
It's what has made us the dominant species.
Yet, this asset comes with a potential weakness.
If the social group has come to be eating too much of the wrong food, it's hard to be the one who doesn't.
If the people in your social group are eating a certain kind of food, well, that's the kind of food that you're also going to want to eat.
So if you're determined to diet, it makes it difficult for you.
You have one part of your biology, the social part, telling you to go this way and the part that's listened to maybe the nutritionist and the scientist saying, "No, no, no, I should be eating this for my health.
" And then, your stomach is trying to tell you whether it's full or not, but that isn't necessarily what you're listening to, depending on the circumstances.
If you're sitting there happily chatting away or everybody else orders dessert, you say, "Well, yes, I could eat a little bit more.
"Yes, I'll have that dessert too.
" We all know that meals are about much more than food.
You kind of just keep going.
As long as there's conversation, you're still eating and that will probably be more than you actually need.
If food was just about nutrition, there wouldn't be so many overweight people.
But, to me, it's about feeling safe and feeling needed and wanted.
SHE CHUCKLES It gives you a nice sensation that you're looking after them.
I've put on about two stone in the last year since I met my boyfriend, because we both love food.
You can justify it to yourself better if you've got someone else sitting, doing it there with you.
It's an easy trap to fall into.
I don't want my children to grow up with an attitude to food like I've got, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that they're healthy.
We're pulled in different directions between our desire to be healthy and our basic human nature.
With our understanding of taste, we may have created a technology that can help us deal with this.
We're a clever species, we got ourselves into this mess.
It's possible that there are technological ways out of it, but there is decent evidence out there that says that just because you give someone a sweet taste with no calories, that may actually increase their food intake.
It may not actually allow them to eat less food.
So it's a very difficult, a very difficult problem.
In Florida, the scientists think their technology can make some contribution, if we use it wisely.
Humans just, by our genetic make-up, like sweet and there's no way around that.
So let's give sweet in a package that's a little healthier for you.
I don't think that that's a bad thing.
I think it's a very good thing.
I think what we're doing is applying knowledge that we got, that we didn't expect to find, this was serendipitous, but let's take it and use it to our advantage, to improve the human diet.
I see no problem at all with that, I'm very excited about that.