How do we avoid food traps? Adam Brumberg from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab explains.

Food Inspiration talked to Adam Brumberg, Research Specialist at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and Deputy Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

The Food and Brand Lab is a department of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY that is made up of an interdisciplinary group of scientists from the fields of psychology, economy, food science, marketing, human nutrition and history. The goal of the researchers is to provide the tools for people and businesses alike to make better choices when it comes to health and business management, and to make them aware of so called food traps.

What do you at the Food and Brand Lab hope to find in the near future?

‘Peoples’ level of understanding and interest in food has gone up dramatically in the past ten years. We’ll always continue to do things related to messaging and to environmental changes that promote healthier eating. There are a lot of corporations, both big and small, that make very healthy food but they have a hard time getting that message across to consumers. We’re helping them to get their message out there.’

How do we avoid food traps?

‘Sometimes people feel like it’s hopeless. They think their brain is working against them and they’ll never get past these food traps. But I’d like to emphasize that you can. You can make improvements in your diet. You can do things that seem silly, but are actually proven to work like using smaller dishes, or serving your main course from the counter: set the fruit and vegetables on the table and your meat or fish on the counter. People would sooner have seconds from the table rather than walk to the counter. You can use the same tricks that tricked you, to trick yourself into making better choices.’

Do you think there is an educational role for caterers and restaurants? Can they make consumers more aware of their choices?

‘There are certainly restaurants that have made this their mission and they generally appeal to a very specific clientele. However, most people don’t go out to eat with the idea of nutritious intake. You should be prepared to answer questions about nutrition; but being proactive is not a great idea for most restaurants because when we go out to eat, we tend to indulge ourselves a little. You can help people by highlighting certain items or offering half portions without being in their face about this or that thing that is going to make you healthier. That is not going to be revenue positive.’

Do you want to read the whole interview? Or do you want to know more about food & psychology? Read the Food Inspiration Magazine.