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  • Why humanely raised meat tastes better

    New York Magazine - 08/24/2016

    People who buy more humanely raised meat obviously do so for moral reasons. But there’s more going on with these labels than the objective information they convey. A long line of research suggests that the way we taste food and drink is affected by all sorts of factors that aren’t tied directly to its taste — it may be that just thinking meat came from a more humane source causes it to taste better than it would have otherwise, at least for some people.

    It’s an intriguing idea, and the researchers Eric Anderson of Tufts University and Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University investigated it for a new paper just published in PLOS One. “Our goal was to test whether beliefs about how animals were raised (whether they suffered) would influence the experience of eating meat,” the researchers write. In asking this question, they were drawing on a bunch of prior research showing that, among other, similar findings, “Wine tastes better when people believe it was expensive, compared to when they believe it is inexpensive — even when the two wine samples are actually identical.” Our perception of what we’re consuming goes a great deal toward shaping the sensations that follow, in other words.

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