In search of ponies: Animals have different flavor priorities

It gets a bit mundane at times.

Pushing a cart through the store, browsing for food items that provide the comfort and sustainability of the usual but that are different enough to make meals worth looking forward to, all while trying to find things that can be prepared in a reasonable amount of time without spending a fortune.

And it’s huge business, appealing to the bored taste buds of people, leading to a clash of splashy colors and bold labels that scream from packaging designed to make ho-hum customers believe they can do just that — provide fast, cheap flavor like an adventure at the tip of a fork.

It really is just about sustenance, after all.

Sure, humans spend exorbitant amounts of time imagining, talking about, planning, procuring, preparing and eventually eating food, tying the act of eating to success, creativity, socializing and emotion.

But it really is just fueling all the efforts and endeavors involved in staying alive — even if it ends up consuming much of the time and energy it buys us.

Life could be so much simpler, not to mention efficient and economical, if, instead of spending hours of precious life pushing a cart, a quick trip to the store would yield a couple 50 pound bags of nutritionally balanced no refrigeration-required food.

The perfect balance of fats, proteins, grains, sugars, fiber and veggies compressed into little round pellets could be so liberating.

There would be no more complicated shopping trips or dashes to the store for missing ingredients.

Kitchens could be converted into more space for the family, energy sucking appliances eliminated, and best of all, no more dishes to wash.

With compressed cubes of alfalfa and grass, oat, corn, rice, other grains and even meat pellets and sweets, there’s hardly an animal on the planet we can’t already feed, so why not people too.

Sure, the taste would probably get old from time to time, but there are so many possible ingredients out there it wouldn’t take much to come up with a new pellet.

Besides, though we tend to think of good flavor as a requirement for every meal, the whole purpose of taste buds is to guide the eating process to ensure nourishment and prevent consumption of things that can do harm — if it tastes bad, it probably is, otherwise it fits some nutritional need.

While humans place great importance on flavor and variety in meals, it’s not that other animals don’t care.

The taste buds of dogs, for instance, are keen on meat and fatty flavors and also enjoy sweets and salty foods, while having a natural revulsion to bitter tastes.

Cats, on the other hand, can’t even taste sweets, so tend to pass over the sugary things on the way to the meats.

And both possess something humans don’t — taste buds that are programed to enjoy the flavor of water, explaining why they get more excited for big gulps than food sometimes.

With the exception of the finicky minority, animals, while certainly swayed by flavors they enjoy, eat the same thing over and over again, approaching their meals with the same excitement from one day to the next.

And they’re content because it means a full belly and all the satisfaction that goes along with it — Not a bad thing to have day after day.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: or on the web at:

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