1

votes

A rose by another name: Evolutionary Smell

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 05, 2010 at 9:12 PM

Smell: A number of evolutionary dietary benefits , clearly good foods Smell Great, Bacon, Meats, Fruits etc.

We more importantly use it to determine what not to eat, easily telling when food has gone rancid, when a smell "turns our stomach".

Why are some smells so great? Why have we developed pleasure from non food sources on an evolutionary basis?

For example: roses, cut grass,and hickory smoke.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on October 07, 2010
at 03:18 PM

Toasted bread smells great but is bad for me. Same with pizza, brownies, cookies, pretty much anything with wheat. French fries smell good too. Actually, anything deep fried smells good - from fish to doughnuts! Lately, I notice a lot of cologne that smells like incense - it makes me gag!

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:37 AM

Why some smells smell great? I still think emotional and/or cultural loads are the biggest reason. Hmm... Unless you're talking physiologically, in which case, I have no idea.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:36 AM

The "supertaster" phenomenon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supertaster) might be related since taste and smell are so interrelated.

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on October 06, 2010
at 05:55 PM

As a general rule about fish, I disagree. Regardless of how fresh the mackerel is on a sashimi platter, the strong taste will still make me gag. Same goes for herring, sardines, bluefish, etc. However, I do agree with you when it comes to mild tasting fish, like fluke, flounder, etc.; they only stink when they're not fresh.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 02:39 PM

Fresh fish is neither fishy tasting nor smelling...

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:01 PM

@Stephen-Aegis: depends on the perfume for me. Some smell awful. A few smell like wuh-mun, gr, argh! and I think that that's an associational thing...

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 10:34 AM

Yes, but the why is what I seek.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on October 06, 2010
at 04:37 AM

Thanks Stephen. I can actually read your question.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:22 AM

Added 2 question marks and a period, my engrish teacher would be mortified that I write all this bad engrish on my phone

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:19 AM

Food is not necc. Associated with attraction, different pheromones... And yes I think paleo women exhibit much better pheromones than cookies or other cooked food

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:14 AM

I vehemently dislike the smell of perfume

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:13 AM

I r bad engrish.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on October 05, 2010
at 10:27 PM

@Stephen-Aegis -- could you please use proper punctuation to make this more readable? Thanks in advance.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on October 05, 2010
at 10:15 PM

Good barbeque? Yup, not to mention heat and protection from roving predators in the dark...

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6 Answers

1
7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on October 06, 2010
at 02:36 PM

I don't think our reactions to smells are purely instinct. I think cultural conditioning and innate personal preferences play a large part and create set of reactions that are not necessarily a blueprint for seeking out the best quality foods. E.g., I don't think there's any doubt that oily, fishy-tasting-smelling fish is healthy, but despite growing up on the Jersey Shore, with its plentiful bluefish, I absolutely despise fishy-tasting fish. And, as much as I love the smell and taste of bacon, pork, in sufficient quantity, makes my chronic epididymitis flare up.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 02:39 PM

Fresh fish is neither fishy tasting nor smelling...

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on October 06, 2010
at 05:55 PM

As a general rule about fish, I disagree. Regardless of how fresh the mackerel is on a sashimi platter, the strong taste will still make me gag. Same goes for herring, sardines, bluefish, etc. However, I do agree with you when it comes to mild tasting fish, like fluke, flounder, etc.; they only stink when they're not fresh.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:36 AM

The "supertaster" phenomenon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supertaster) might be related since taste and smell are so interrelated.

1
21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on October 05, 2010
at 11:47 PM

I don't know man. Chocolate chip cookies smell amazing. Actually, most cooked food smells pretty good, paleo or not. Here's what this PhD biologist says about smell and evolution:

"In a hunter-gatherer environment where calories are relatively scarce, you don't want your people wasting time eating food that is indigestible or has few calories. You want people to be drawn to foods with high energy content (sweet or fatty) -- just the sort of foodstuffs we are all busy avoiding in our western, food-surplus diets. Have you ever wondered why all the tasty foods are 'bad' for us? If we were all naturally drawn to low energy foodstuffs such as green salads, we'd have had a distinct competitive disadvantage in our EEA."

This has always intrigued me though--why do we not make chocolate chip cookie perfumes and colognes? Are human smells just mutually exclusive with food smells?

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:19 AM

Food is not necc. Associated with attraction, different pheromones... And yes I think paleo women exhibit much better pheromones than cookies or other cooked food

1
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on October 05, 2010
at 10:14 PM

Stephen-Aegis leave out best smell of all: sweaty wuh-mun!

Gr. Argh!

/Grok

Seriously, though, I have to wonder what overhygienified overperfumed humans would smell like to Grok. Could our modern, advertising-driven obsession with bodily hygiene be throwing certain evolutionary olfactory benefits to the curb.

Maybe some no-poo experimenters can contribute some insight here?

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:14 AM

I vehemently dislike the smell of perfume

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on October 06, 2010
at 12:01 PM

@Stephen-Aegis: depends on the perfume for me. Some smell awful. A few smell like wuh-mun, gr, argh! and I think that that's an associational thing...

1
D5cde8031564f905260ce9aa7a1f5e2c

on October 05, 2010
at 09:27 PM

The scent of roses and cut grass - Perhaps they are signs of ecological fertility and natural bounty? Spring time, warm weather, increased (edible) vegetation all mean good times and increased survivability for hunters and gatherers.

Wood smoke has probably signified good barbecue for millennia.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on October 05, 2010
at 10:15 PM

Good barbeque? Yup, not to mention heat and protection from roving predators in the dark...

0
5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 06, 2010
at 07:23 AM

Good food smells good to me. Bad food smells bad to me. That doesn't mean that someone else won't have them reversed. For instance, I love the smell of cooking fish. My spouse can't stand it. The fish can't be both poisonous and non-poisonous at once, can it?

I think a lot of our judgments about good and bad smells and tastes are cultural instead of physiological. Think of the places around the world where people eat heavily fermented or even rotted food and think them a delicacy! Some prize cheeses smell like stinky feet. Rotten fertilized eggs, grasshoppers, roaches, fish rotten to the point of liquidity.

I love the smell of a rose but concentrated rose essence overwhelms me. When I think of strong smells I think of dogs. Dogs have a much more sensitive sense of smell than humans yet they seek out dead fish on the beach, roll themselves in it and absolutely revel in the stench.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:37 AM

Why some smells smell great? I still think emotional and/or cultural loads are the biggest reason. Hmm... Unless you're talking physiologically, in which case, I have no idea.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on October 07, 2010
at 03:18 PM

Toasted bread smells great but is bad for me. Same with pizza, brownies, cookies, pretty much anything with wheat. French fries smell good too. Actually, anything deep fried smells good - from fish to doughnuts! Lately, I notice a lot of cologne that smells like incense - it makes me gag!

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on October 06, 2010
at 10:34 AM

Yes, but the why is what I seek.

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 06, 2010
at 02:48 AM

Well obviously, we needed to develop and hone mechanisms to distiguish good from bad. One of those mechanisms is analysis of small particles in the air. Those of us who preferred what was good for us had a huge survival advantage. Soon, much of it was hardwired in. But nature left a little wiggle room for education and environment. We can learn to like some smells that might otherwise have been neutral, like crushed grass particles.

Other particles/scents, like roses and flowers might have been a situation where the plants are attempting to attract pollinators and also managed to attract us, even if we were not necesarily the intended target. FLowers usually have a sort of sweet sugary smell, something bees and others things might also be attracted to. Of course, some night blooming flowers smell like rancid meat, which attracts other kinds of bugs, but coincidentally not us. In either case, I think it was the flowers doing the evolution and the effect it had on humans was mostly accidental (until later when humans with much spare time began to cultivate flowers just for their scent..)

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