GARRY LEE – FOOD SCIENTIST

Imagine this…You’re instructed to bite in to a slice of lemon… You are to eat the lemon as if it was an orange. While you’re expecting the cringing sour taste you have always known lemons to bring, it’s a sweet, juicy, refreshing orange flavour that fills your mouth, but how?

This is exactly what a room full of Karratha locals were asking at Food Scientist Garry Lee’s ‘Perception vs Reality’ Workshop on Tuesday 2nd May.
With more than eight years under his belt as a Professor of Food Science at the University of Western Australia as well as being a leading researcher on an international project to develop the ‘Best Chocolate in the world’, it is safe to say Garry Lee has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the science behind foods.
Gathering at the Welcome Lotteries House, the night began covering topics and labels such as MSG Free, Gluten Free and Organic foods. We learnt the reality of what these labels actually mean. MSG for example, an additive we are all lead to believe we should avoid, can actually be found in all of our everyday foods, yes, even that juicy orange you have sitting in your fridge. It’s the extra artificial formulated MSG that we want to avoid. Next time you’re at the supermarket and eyeing off that packet that says ‘MSG Free’, remember that simply means no extra artificial MSG was added in the making, original MSG isn’t all that bad for us!

Now we would all love to believe the saying ‘Chocolate is good for your health’ and technically there is some truth behind it, but, before you go grabbing your nearest and dearest bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, keep reading!
Taking out a snap lock bag filled with a lovely looking block of chocolate wrapped in gold, we all got a taste of what is actually classified as ‘real’ chocolate, the chocolate that is ‘good for your health’. With the ability to prevent ageing, it is the Polyphenols in chocolate that are the ‘do-gooders’, the problem is as we learnt, real chocolate which is high in Polyphenols doesn’t actually taste that great. Even the smallest of crumbs were too rich and bland to enjoy, they certainly showed no trace of the sweet heavens a normal block of Cadbury brings about…plus at $300 a kg it isn’t affordable for most.

The night finished with tasting experiments, there was a selection of salt and vinegar chips, lemon, tomato, apple, lime, sweet gherkins, goat’s cheese and vinegar. After each having a quick taste of the original foods, we were then given the ‘magic’ pill containing an extract of the Synsepalum dulcificum berry. Instructed to keep it on our tongue for one to two minutes, the purpose of this pill is to coat your mouth and interact with some of the receptors on your taste buds. Although hesitant at first, (because who likes to bite in to a lemon for the fun of it) the crowd were in awe at the orange flavoured lemon they were tasting.
The night was a great success with the group requesting for Gary to contuinue on for many more hours.Many marketing ploys used by the big brands these days were blown wide open – who knew the famous ‘green smoothie’ could contain just as much sugar as a can of coke.

Garry Lee followed up his workshop with an appearance at the Karratha ‘Reach Your Peak’ Career Expo the next day where he was constantly surrounded by eager to learn school students and amazed community members. Who knows, we may have a few budding Food Scientists in the making here in Karratha!