It’s not just flavors or taste buds that affect how you perceive the food you eat. Scientists at Cornell University have used virtual reality to show how an environment can alter how our food tastes.
The Same Cheese in Three Different Virtual Environments
In a study, published in the Journal of Food Science, 50 people were given virtual reality headsets, which placed them in three different digital environments, a sensory booth, a cow barn, and a park bench. They were then all given an identical piece of blue cheese to eat.
Researchers then asked the participants to rate the taste, odor and the saltiness of the cheese. Unanimously, the cheese was saltiest, smelliest and strongest when eaten in the virtual cow barn.
“We consume foods in surroundings that can spill over into our perceptions of the food,” said Robin Dando, associate professor of food science and senior author of the research study. “This research validates that virtual reality can be used, as it provides an immersive environment for testing,” said Dando. “Visually, virtual reality imparts qualities of the environment itself to the food being consumed – making this kind of testing cost-efficient.”
Food and VR?
The intent of this study was to show how we perceive our food in different environments. It also showed that VR could be a useful tool in research and is quite effective in altering a person’s perception of the world.
Getting back to dining. Could restaurants or grocery stores also provide recommended VR experiences with the food they sell? Perhaps those microwave meals might taste better on a beach then your kitchen table. Or could your local café digitally turn into a French countryside as you have coffee and a croissant?
Tell us what you think in the comments.