Better fruits and vegetables through sensory analysis

Curr Biol. 2013 May 6;23(9):R374-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.038.


The flavor quality of many fresh fruits available to consumers today is generally believed to have deteriorated. While agricultural and postharvest practices certainly contribute to poor flavor, a large part of the problem is the challenge of breeding for and accurately assessing such a complex, multigenic trait in a natural product such as a fruit. Here we address the parallel challenges linked to measurement of flavor and human preferences, particularly as it applies to a complex, whole food in which many chemicals and sensations are synthesized into a distinct and recognizable flavor profile. What is flavor? What contributes to the pleasure evoked by flavors? We examine interactions between taste and olfaction as well as psychophysical measurement limitations that confound efforts to understand human flavor preferences. The ability to address these questions in a whole food presents exciting opportunities to understand the basic principles of how we select the foods that we eat.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Food Preferences*
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Smell*
  • Taste*
  • Vegetables / chemistry*