Lately, a condiment called Gastromat has been missing in Norwegian supermarkets, as reported by NRK. It’s not the first time food items are missing in Norway, as the Norwegian butter crisis made headlines throughout the world in 2011. This sparked my curiosity, as I had never used this condiment. And some people were starting to sell their remaining Gastromat on FINN (the most popuar online marketplace in Norway) with a significant profit – as the NRK-article indicates. But why so popular?
Enter the hoax
Gastromat (as many other spices) is made out different kinds of pulverized vegetables, seasalt and so on. One of the other ingredients is MSG (Glutamate). It creates the umami-taste, but in an artifcial way. It is used by chefs or food producers that want to hide the taste of foods that are tasteless (like light products lacking in fats) or foods that are past their prime time. Glutamate occurs naturally in some foods, but not in the concentration you will find in the clinical MSG powder. Glutamate is controversial in many ways (for example higher chronic pain prevalence), but the issues are to many to cover here.
Tastebuds needs lovin’ too
Gastromat would never be in demand without MSG. Addictions to different substances and behaviours still surprise me to this day. But the neuron stimulation provided by MSG is no exception. The continued use may manifest with higher obesity rates; after all that’s why glutamate is given to laboratory mice to make them obese. Or maybe you regret your visit to your local Chinese restaurant?
Either way, it’s time to look at why we are manipulating taste at the cost of our health. Taste in foods has taken over the show and most of us are hyperstimulated. Unfamiliar flavours like bitterness are not cherished as others, like sweet flavours. Take back the natural flavours. But to enjoy them, give your taste buds a break from fake foods. And the taste will come to you at last.