First Bite: How we learn to eat

We are not born knowing what to eat; as omnivores it is something we each have to figure out for ourselves. From childhood onward, we learn how big a “portion” is and how sweet is too sweet. We learn to enjoy green vegetables—or not. But how does this education happen? What are the origins of taste?

The latest book from Britain’s finest living food writer Bee Wilson goes to the heart of the matter of food habits.

In First Bite, Bee Wilson draws on the latest research from food psychologists, neuroscientists, and nutritionists to reveal that our food habits are shaped by a whole host of factors: family and culture, memory and gender, hunger and love

First Bite is primarily concerned with demolishing the mountain of twaddle that has accrued around our vexed relationship with food. In particular, Wilson explodes the notion that we are genetically programmed towards certain foods. For example, she dismisses the «claptrap» about women having an in-built fondness for chocolate: «There’s no biological imperative… the female craving for chocolate is culturally determined, not innate.»

Her exploration of our dysfunctional relationship with food has a powerful personal element, occasionally startling in its candour.

The way we learn to eat holds the key to why food has gone so disastrously wrong for so many people. But Wilson also shows that both adults and children have immense potential for learning new, healthy eating habits. An exploration of the extraordinary and surprising origins of our tastes and eating habits, First Bite also shows us how we can change our palates to lead healthier, happier lives.