The Test of Taste

“…what we eat is part of an integrated whole, a web of relationships, that cannot be reduced to single ingredients…” -Dan Barber, The Third Plate

Good afternoon, all. As one of the newest members of the HowGood team, I’m extremely excited to start contributing to our blog. When coming up with an idea for a series to write, I was struck by Dan Barber’s concept in his book, The Third Plate, that nutrition and taste are correlated. “Sustainability is also about resurrecting flavor,” notes Krista Tippet, from American Public Media, in an interview with Mr. Barber. If this is the case, would we be able to blind taste where food products fall with relation to the HowGood sustainable food rating system? My thought? Of course we would! Growing practices, ingredient sourcing and profile, food processing, distribution range, and a whole host of other industry specific metrics measured by our research team are without a doubt interrelated, and my hypothesis going forward is that the members of our team here at HowGood will be able to taste the difference between sustainable and environmentally and socially sound food products and their counterparts. Let the games begin!

Our experiment starts with dark chocolate. I conducted a blind tasting of eight different dark chocolates: two earned ratings of GREAT from HowGood, two earned ratings of VERY GOOD from HowGood, two earned ratings of GOOD from HowGood, and two earned no ratings from HowGood. I presented the chocolates in two different tastings, with one representative from each category in each tasting. This is information that I made sure to give my colleagues prior to the tastings. The two tastings were set us as shown below:

B. Endangered Species (GOOD)           F. No Rating Earned 

G. Theo (VERY GOOD)                          D. Green & Black’s (GOOD)

C. Alter Eco 73% (GREAT)                    H. Alter Eco Dk Velvet (GREAT)

A. No Rating Earned                              E. Divine (VERY GOOD)


The results ranged from spot on to somewhere in the middle, but my findings showed that the two chocolates that earned no rating consistently fell in the bottom 50% when it came to my colleagues ranking them. In other words, they may not have been able to pick out precisely where chocolates ranked on the HowGood scale (GREAT, VERY GOOD, GOOD), but on average, they were able to decipher and taste which chocolates belonged in the bottom tier with no rating. Looks like so far, so good with my hypothesis; taste and sustainability seem to correlate. My plan is to keep conducting blind tastings with a wide variety of food products, and I’ll revisit my initial prediction three months from now. Next up, I think I’ll try for some dairy… Yogurt, maybe? Milk?

Until next time,



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