Podcast Episode 111: The Untold History of MSG & Umami – Sarah Lohman

Feb 18, 2019

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Disclosure: I want to thank Ajinomoto for inviting me to the World Umami Forum and for their support and sponsorship of this podcast series. Please note that guest views do not necessarily reflect those of Ajinomoto.

This is a 3-part series on Umami & MSG – or monosodium glutamate. In this series, I’m speaking with four different experts to explore the largely untold history, research on the safety, culinary applications – and even some potential health benefits and current research approaches. What you learn may surprise you!

MSG is one of the most beloved and vilified ingredients in American history.

It’s a staple for home cooks and world-renowned chefs, yet it’s a subject of skepticism as brands and restaurants promote “MSG-free” foods and dishes.

Last September, I was invited to attend the World Umami Forum in New York City, an event hosted by Ajinomoto, the world’s first and leading manufacturer of MSG. What I learned was so compelling that I decided to do a series of episodes so that I could interview several of the speakers and experts that I met at the conference and bring their knowledge to you. You’ll hear from a food historian and author, a registered dietitian, a research and food industry scientist, and also a chef.

Sarah Lohman: culinary historian and author

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American CuisineThe first episode in this 3-part series features Sarah Lohman, a culinary historian and author of ‘Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine’. She shares how and why history has influenced our perceptions of MSG.

People can choose to use MSG or not; it’s more important to understand that it is safe, and the fear of MSG is historically linked to bad science and xenophobia.”
– Sarah Lohman

MSG & Umami – The Basics:

  1. MSG or monosodium glutamate is a seasoning that combines sodium with glutamate, an amino acid that is naturally present in certain foods.
  2. MSG is the purest form of Umami, which is 1 of the 5 tastes in addition to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, and brings out the savory flavor in foods.
  3. Studies have shown that MSG can reduce overall sodium content in a recipe by 30-40% by reducing the need for salt. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has referenced the potential of MSG as a tool to reduce sodium in foods.
  4. MSG is sold under the brand name Ac’cent in the United States, as well as AJI-NO-MOTO™, and can be purchased in the spice aisle of most major supermarkets, Asian grocery stores and online.

5 Facts You Need to Know About Umami

Get the Factsheet: 5 Facts You Need to Know About Umami

Guest bio:

Sarah Lohman: culinary historian and authorSarah Lohman is a culinary historian and author of Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, which is a #1 Bestseller on Amazon, and The Atlantic called it “Richly researched, intriguing, and cleverly written.” Lohman focuses on the history of American food as a way to access stories of women, immigrants, and people of color, and to address issues of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. She performs across the country both as a solo artist and as part of the ‘Masters of Social Gastronomy’, and has taught classes on everything from open fire cooking to a walking tour of the “Little Tokyo” neighborhood of Manhattan. She also writes a weekly newsletter about all things delicious and historical.


Sarah’s Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

About MSG & Umami: whyusemsg.com

MSG & Umami Resources: Patient Education | MSG Safety | Recipes | Scientific Citations


Umami History

Related Episodes:

The Hamilton Cookbook with Laura Kumin – Sound Bites Podcast Episode 90

A Historian’s Take on Food and Food Politics with Rachel Laudan – Sound Bites Podcast Episode 017

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Save the Date!

Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium 2019

Sound Bites is collaborating with Today’s Dietitian! Stay tuned for updates on the podcast, blog, and newsletter!

Save the Date! Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium 2019 is in Scottsdale, Arizona May 19-22!

Music by Dave Birk

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