Text: Béatrice Schaad, chief editor
Photo: Patrick Dutoit

Pleasure comes slow-cooked

You might call it progress. A shake that contains the exact nutrients you need for perfect nutrition.

You are guaranteed to take in just the right amounts of Omega-3, carbohydrates and proteins required by our modern-day temples. Mouth-watering Simmental prime rib? That crispy fresh courgette you’ve just bought at the corner market? Who needs all that? Everything is contained in a single beverage. The company that came up with the idea touts the slogan, “What if you never had to worry about food again?” The surrounding picture shows a young man wearing a sleeveless shirt and standing in a high-tech kitchen. He will never experience the joy of grease stains from splattering butter.

Our special report looks at how science is fuelling huge advances in nutrition. But what kind of world is it whipping up for us? Is it even appetising?

Developments like these wipe our tables completely clean of many other benefits reaped from the pleasures of dining. What about savouring the taste and texture of different foods in your mouth? What about the conversation around how delicious the food is and choosing just the right words to describe it? What about simply enjoying the experience of sharing a meal? Having a gluttonous meal with friends must certainly count for something in terms of health benefits. Perhaps they just haven’t yet been quantified by science. Even when imperfections join our table, voices are raised or omega-3s lack here and there.

Trying to maintain a perfect diet has a name: orthorexia. The eating disorder was defined for the first time by a doctor in 1997 to refer to the obsession with healthy eating. It may offer the body some benefits, but it weakens the soul, the first symptom being social isolation.

That’s what could happen when scientific progress interferes with our eating habits. How are we supposed to tell the difference between eating well and obsessing over it until it makes us sick? Resisting that temptation will be made even more complex as food is gradually personalised, a phenomenon emerging in numerous other medical fields. Isn’t a meal something that is not supposed to be individualised and focused on yourself?

Breathe in that perfectly nutritious drink. Compare it to the aroma wafting from the stove. The conclusion draws itself. Give up that all-in-one smoothie and other products dressed in lab coats. Making that choice means you still want a world where pleasure remains a slow-cooked art.