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I traveled to many countries in the world and I found that generally meat, shrimps, vegetable, fruit in the past (like 30 years ago) were more delicious than they are now.

Is that because people try to mass produce in bulk them and that is why their quality dropped significantly?

How can humankind keep the quality of meat, shrimps, vegetable, fruit the same as in the past but keep the quantity high enough for all of us?

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    I've heard other (older) people mention something similar. However, I'm not sure whether it is really true or it's just that people remember things differently when they get older. Older people also tend to say that time goes faster with age.... – THelper Nov 30 '14 at 12:26
  • I feel pollution has an indirect affect on food. First, less healthy animals and vegetables due to poor feed or soil results in lower quality product. Second, pollution affects how we taste and perceive food. If our taste buds are less sensitive due to our bodies exposed to more pollutants that reduce the enjoyment of food. – Sun Dec 4 '14 at 21:16
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There are several reasons for this. Some are subjective and some are objective.

  • producers use different breeds of animals and different strains of plants. Instead of selecting for taste, they may select for fast growth, disease resistance, appearance, transportability (eg an apple or tomato that stays hard and won't bruise) and so on. If you have access to a producer who uses heirloom seeds or breeds, you can test this theory. The heirloom pork I buy from my butcher tastes like the pork I remember from 40 years ago.
  • producers feed animals different food (cheaper, easier to get, easier to give them) and use different fertilizers on plants. They tend to put all the same plant together and use a spacing that's convenient for machines. They often restrict animals from moving and developing muscles, or finding their own food. These choices can affect food's taste.
  • the food may be less fresh, if it has been transported thousands of miles to you, than if it was sourced locally. You may think of potatoes, for example, as being a boring vegetable that don't taste of anything. The first time I ate one from my own garden I was astonished. It tasted great!
  • people remember the amazing food they ate once but not all the boring food in between. Then they eat something boring and compare it. Today's so-so peach has to compete with the memory of a peach on a hot summer day when you were in love for the first time and had just gone swimming

Look around for different sources of food, those oriented to flavour, and you may be able to eat a lot happier. I predict that choosing more sustainable food will reward you with more satisfying food. That is what happened for me.

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    I asked this question to many people and they couldn't answer. Thank you very much – Tom Dec 1 '14 at 2:51
  • Another subjective factor is that people really do attach more value to things that are more expensive. If a food is more expensive (even relatively speaking when you are younger and have less disposable income), it's going to be perceived as better in some way. – Adam Miller Dec 4 '14 at 18:06
  • That was a lovely subjective memory you just said about the peach, I was genuinely impressed! +1 – Sustainable Programmer Dec 27 '14 at 7:57
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There are two very obvious answers to this.

First, which no one has mentioned, is that the sense of taste deteriorates with age. The meat &c probably hasn't changed, YOU have. (In much the same way that I sometimes think gravity is quite a bit stronger than it was a few decades ago :-)) Here's one reference, of many: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2579627/

Second reason is that a lot of people tend to remember their past as better than it objectively was.

I think this is the reason for the oft-quoted meme about older people eating cat food. It's not because they're poor - have you priced cat food vs equal amounts of human food? - it's because their sense of taste/smell has deteriorated to the point that the strong cat food seems tasty, while human food is bland & tasteless.

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Kate has good answers.

I'll add to this:

For meat in particular, animals that are raised quickly tend to have less flavour. Part of what we call flavour is just the age of the animal. This is true of shrimp. A large shrimp tastes much shrimpier. It's also true of Jackfish. A 16" jack tastes mildly fishy A 36" jack is almost inedible it tastes so strong.

Grass fed beef tends to be more flavour full, but mostly I think that grass takes longer to get the cow to a sellable weight.

Food is less local. When I was a kid, peaches were in the grocery store for only a few weeks, and they all came from under 200 miles away. A producer could pick Tuesday evening and have it in the store on Wednesday Morning.

Now, they tend to pick fruit less ripe, and ship it thousands of miles.

A final effect: As we get older our tastebuds and sense of smell get less acute. All flavours become more muted.

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