Monday, November 29, 2010

The Color Of Yum

Color, or lack thereof, inherently changes a design because color is its own language. It speaks to people emotionally, physically, and socially. Colors have certain deeply ingrained societal definitions, and if a designs’ color is at odds with what its’ social definition would otherwise be, that design is doomed. Arguably the most important area where color must synch with design is in food.
From an aesthetic standpoint, people don’t eat unappealing food. Studies have proven visual appeal to be a rather significant factor in the taste of food. Following this evidence, fast food companies who allow their billboards along the freeway to fade with sun and age do themselves a disservice; nobody wants to eat a purplish gray slab of meat on a gray-brown bun. From an evolutionary standpoint, food that is a different color than normal, it is suspect, and should be avoided for health and safety reasons. These ingrained assessments still dictate how we choose food today, and is why commercially available food is or isn’t artificially colored.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Consider, if you will, the Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs And Ham. Outside, perhaps, of a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, who in their right mind would eat green eggs which should rightly be colored yellow and white? Nobody would eat those eggs, because the color is so vastly different from what it is assumed it should be. In fact, what the public assumes is the correct color for a food is so important to sales and marketing that many non-organic products are dyed in processing. The colors aren’t changed, merely enhanced; more red to bacon and salmon, more green to vegetables, yellow in butter, colored wax on apples and other fruit. For me, natural is the right color for food. If my produce is a little duller in color, or a little more orange, or green, or red, it’s fine, and if it’s severely off from what I know the color to be I eschew it. I don’t need artificial colors to make my food taste better.