Looking through a typical supermarket fruit ‘n’ veg section one can see naturally occuring foods of nearly every colour and hue in the rainbow with the exception of bright blue.
There are, for example, bright green peppers, bright yellow lemons, bright red tomatoes, and so on. But most of the blue foods tend to be on the drab side - even blueberries are kinda dull (more like a bluey-purple I reckon) compared to a nice, shiny red apple.
A good haloween party piece when I was younger was to make blue pasta or blue rice - most people felt dead uncomfortable eating blue food like that. Why is that?
I was thinking that maybe because mouldly food tends to go blue we might have a conditioned aversion to snacking on blue nosh, but I was wondering whether someone could sort me out with a definitive reason…?
The “blue food” links I followed in Google had a somewhat “different” take on the concept (eg. “1001 uses for a courgette in the bedroom”) which, while certainly enlightening, didn’t really answer my question
ps. Apologies if this has already been dealt with. I tried a search but it didn’t come up with anything. Could someone point me to the right URL if this has been sorted out already. Ta.
George Carlin, of course, concluded that the government was hiding the blue food from us. I think he once even tried to stage a rally demanding the blue food.
(Carlin did his “blue food” routine decades ago. I wonder if he was the original vector for this question. It seems to surface a lot, and many of the people doing so seem to be unaware of the old Carlin bit. But I’ve never heard of the observation being made before Carlin, though I’ll admit that I haven’t particularly looked for it.)
Here is my WAG. Blue food has the blueberry problem. If you look at a blueberry, it really looks kinda black. But now smear it on your best while shirt and you get a blue stain. Too much blue pigment and you get black. Food doesn’t have any evolutionary reason to fine-tune its percentage of blue pigment to appear blue to us.
Hmmm. Are humans not better at resolving certain frequencies of light?
This is kinda from the “What A Bloke In The Pub Told Me” school of Biological Science, but are there certain colours which humans (and other animals?) find easier to see? If a plant wants to get its fruit eaten (and thus its seeds distributed more widely) might there not be “optimal” colours to use so that it gets spotted more successfully?
Just a thought - I’m not a scientist (whaddaya mean “you can tell?!”) so this might be fair game for a proper panning
Rob_S, there is some blue ketchup (and green, too) marketed in the U.S. for kids that is simply reprehensibly vile. So I’ve noticed the effect you postulate.
I’d say lack of blue foods in nature has a lot to do with aversion to blue foods. I mean medium blue that’s far from purple or far even from navy. Electric Blue, if that means anything to anybody. The color of a Pepsi can.
Anyone remember the scene in the movie Vegas Vacation where Randy Quaid takes Chevy Chase to a $1.99 Vegas buffet? Quaid tells the buffet attendant “Don’t skimp on the blue stuff” – referring to the tempera-paint- looking royal blue meatloaf! ,gag>
Arthur C. Clarke brought this up in his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of course, the (unseen) aliens feed astronaut David Bowman blue food, or rather, all the food containers in that fancy room at the end are filled with blue glop. (Not in the movie, of course).
There are blueberries and blue (bleu) cheese, of course, but they have the air of cheating. The only blue food I had as a kid was blue raspberry popsicles – something MilliCal loves, as well.
Once, for a dinner I had that happened to fall on April Fools Day, I made blue dinner rolls (using a LOT of blue food coloring). Nobody ate them. (They didn’t eat the puyrple mashed potatoes, either). So there is an irrational prejudice against blue food, or maybe just against my dinner rolls. Maybe the prejudice has survival value.
Well, from an evolutionary standpoint, red, yellow, and orange fruit make better sense than blue fruit, being brighter in color and thus easier to spot by the animals that are supposed to eat it and thus drop the seeds far away from the parent plant. And since hominids are omnivores, including a lot of fruit in their diet (you’re supposed to be eating an apple a day, ya know ), maybe we’re just predisposed to prefer brightly colored fruit.
Just off the top of my head, the truly blue fruits tend to be very small berries, like blueberries and other viburnums, which wouldn’t repay the hominid’s effort expended in gathering them. Lotta work for a mouthful of berries–much faster to eat a peach.
I thought the new ketchup color was purple, not blue?
Then again at this rate, blue can’t be too far off . . .
I remeber an episode of Chef! where one of the characters lost a band-aid in the kitchen. Garreth at that point revealed his policy that they all wear blue band-aids in case such a thing should happen: if you do lose the band-aid, and it’s blue, you can find it easily b/c it won’t blend in with any of the food they serve.
. . . “and if you can think of anything more revolting than finding a used [band-aid] in your food, then I don’t want to know what it is!”
So perhaps for this reason alone, forcing blue food into the world is not the wisest course of action . . .
My father is big on food coloring. He can’t make mashed potatoes without some sort of color alteration. He does the same thing with bottled pears. This food tends to come out pastel unless you add a lot of food coloring. It is a big hit with the grandchildren but freaks out the unwarned.
I once had a friend who took a coaching position at her alma mater’s arch rival. Since her new school colors were blue I did a (pastel) blue farewell cake with vivid blue icing (I had to add a 2 oz bottle of food coloring before it looked right). I could tell that I had eaten this cake for several days afterward just by glancing in the toilet bowl.
I’m not sure if there is truly an innate, universal, revulsion to blue food. My kid likes this “Blue’s Clues” applesauce which is tinted bright blue. Has no problems with it at all. Some kids, at least, don’t know that food isn’t supposed to be blue.
I think that the green ketchup looks disgusting, too. I’ll eat other foods that color, but not ketchup. Yuck!
The problem with the Frugal Gourmet’s experiment is that he did not separate out whether it was the “unnatural” color or specifically the blue color which was so disgusting. I think green mashed potatoes and turkey would be gross, too, even if I would eat green beans.
There aren’t very many truly blue flowers out there, either. I remember people planting “patriotic” flower gardens in the summer of ‘91–they had red, white, and purple flowers. I doubt that a lack of blue flowers, especially of the cultivated variety, has to do with any human aversion, since people like looking at the color blue. Either blue was evolutionarily selected against long, long ago, or blue is a tricky color to make in nature. Most true blues we see in nature are not made by pigment–they are made by light reflecting off the structures of an unpigmented object. Here is why the sky is blue. A similar principle is at work for such things as blue eyes and many blue birds’ feathers. Blue created by natural pigment (blueberries, etc.) looks different–more purply.