Listening Topic: Food Science – Interview with a food scientist

A. Listen to the radio report. Then choose the correct answer to the question.

___ Eating out and eating at home

___ Amount of vegetables eaten

___ Consumption of soft drinks and milk

___ Variety of foods

___ Types of supermarkets

___ Quality and quantity of food

B. Write down some notes about what was said about each of the following topics. Then listen to the radio interview again and add more details.

1   The biggest change in eating habits ___________________________

2   Changes in drinking soft drinks and milk ___________________________

3   The effects of income on diet ___________________________

4   Prediction for the future ___________________________

5   The effect of immigration ___________________________

6   Surprising trends ___________________________



1 ✓   3 ✓   4 ✓   6


Answers will vary.

 People eat out much more nowadays.

 People, especially kids, used to drink a lot more milk. Now they drink twice as much soda.

 If people have more income, they eat out more.

 There will be greater demand for variety.

 Immigration affects the variety of food available, including types of restaurants.

 People will ask more for quality, rather than just quantity.


A = Host, B = Roger Sabarta

A:   Good morning. Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite topics: food. It’s something we can’t live without, yet we might take it for granted in some ways. Have you ever stopped to think about how our appetites and eating habits have changed, or for that matter, considered how these habits might change in the future? Our guest today is Roger Sabarta, a food scientist who’s done a lot of research in these areas. Welcome Mr. Sabarta

B:   Thanks for having me.

A:   So what’s one of the biggest changes in eating habits that you’ve found?

B:   Well, I’d say that the biggest change, and really the one that also has the most implications for health and things like that, is the amount of eating out that most of us do nowadays. In 1955 the percentage of food budgets spent away from home was 19 percent, and in 1997 it was 38 percent … and it just keeps going up.

A:   I’d never really thought of it, but of course, thinking of my parents and how often they were likely to eat put compared to me in my life, well, it’s a lot different.

B:   Exactly. And then kids nowadays eat out even more often. In the same 42 years from 1955 to 1997, fast food consumption increased 166 percent for teenage boys.

A:   One-hundred and sixty-six percent? Wow! So teenage boys are eating a lot more fast food than they used to!

B:   Yes, it’s really striking. Now think of some of the effects of this change in habit.

A:   I’d guess it probably isn’t all that healthy.

B:   Not really. For example, there’s soda and soft drinks versus milk. Twenty or 25 years ago, people – especially kids – drank a lot more milk. Nowadays, people drink about twice as much soda as they used to and a lot less milk.

A:   And that’s because of eating out so much?

B:   Yes, at least to some extent. Of course there are other factors contributing to this. The amount of advertising done by the food and drink industry goes up every year, so that certainly has an effect as well.

A:   Does your research suggest that this trend will continue?

B:   Pretty much so. The strongest influence that we see on this is income. If people have more income, they usually eat out more. However, one factor that could affect this is age. Older people typically eat out less than younger people, and since we expect the population of older people to increase, this could result in smaller numbers for eating out.

A:   Unless of course older people change their habits and eat out more.

B:   Absolutely. It’s certainly possible.

A:   What else does your research predict for the future?

B:   Well, a demand for more variety in foods in definitely one thing. We’ve already seen this change and we expect it to continue. Just think of the variety of types of food available in supermarkets and restaurants these days.

A:   You mean like Mexican food or Chinese food and things like that?

B:   Or Indian food, or Thai food, and so on.

A:   Hmm, yes. There are so many different types of restaurants in my area compared to ten years ago. I assume this is because of immigration?

B:   Yes, that’s right. As new populations come to the United States, of course they bring food traditions and preferences, so this definitely influences food trends. And these can be positive influences. For example, the consumption of citrus fruit is expected to rise over the next twenty years or so because of consumers coming from places where fruit is a big part of the diet.

A:   Well, that would be good.

B:   Another aspect of this is that people just want variety. They may love a special new flavor of potato chip, but after a while, it becomes a little boring and they start looking for another new flavor. So this will also produce continued variety in food options.

A:   It seems like we already see this a lot. There’s one flavor of something and then they have to make lots of different flavors.

B:   Yes, that’s right.

A:   Were there any surprises in your predictions?

B:   Well, I was a little surprised that we expect people to want quality more than quantity in the future. You know everyone seems to want quantity right now – larger hamburgers, more French fries, and so on – but our analysis suggests that this will change, that people will ask for more quality. For example, they might want a special type of meat, rather than just a hamburger and things like that.

A:   Yes, that is a little surprising. Well, we have to stop here. Thank you very much, Mr. Sabarta.

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