If spice is supposed to be a plants method of defence, why does it taste good?


If spice is supposed to be a plants method of defence, why does it taste good?

In: Other

In most peppers there isn’t enough capsaicin (the stuff that makes spicy things spicy) to hurt humans badly, instead we just feel the heat

Because we have taste receptors in our mouth and eat them. For smaller animals there’s wouldn’t be a taste as much as a inhabitable landing zone similar to being in a haze of smoke or mustard gas

Humans are pretty weak in the sensory department when compared to most animals making them more sensitive to things we might enjoy tasting. Additionally people eat some weird shit.

I always thought of it like this: the purpose of life is to propagate and procreate. If we, as the top of the food chain, have decided something is bad we will work to get rid of it – poison ivy/oak/sumac…. If we decide something is good we will harvest and plant it again – peppers, saffron, etc. There’s also the beauty aspect of it, if we like something for its esthetic we will keep it around – orchids (they give us vanilla too) and other flowers.

Edit: spelling and grammar

Humans are weird. Birds don’t have the receptors for capsaicin, the chemical that feels spicy, so they don’t care. The theory is that peppers evolved to discourage mammals from eating them, because mammals typically have grinding molars that can destroy the seeds. The birds that eat peppers won’t destroy the seeds and will just poop them out.

No mammal/* other than humans *likes* spicy food. Scientists studied dogs in areas where spicy food is an important part of the culture. The dogs were fed table scraps, which were often spicy. That meant the dogs would have been exposed over generations and may possibly have acquired the taste.

They did not. Given the choice, these dogs would *always* choose food that was not spicy first. They *would* tolerate spicy food when no other food was available – unlike a control group which would avoid the spicy food. But none of the dogs willingly chose spicy food over bland food.

Humans are *weird*.

/* The only other mammal is a tree shrew in China. Genetic tests show that due to a mutation they, like birds, do not have the receptors for capsaicin (or a lot fewer of them) so they are unaffected or less affected by the chemical.

To all other mammals (and arguably most humans) spicy food does *not* taste good.

One theory suggests that Humans have evolved to like them. Spices helped preserve food. It also made the tongues tingle. Some people liked it, some tolerated it.

And yes as others have said. Humans are weird.
I mean why would someone consciously choose to eat hot peppers….. It gives nothing but pain

Because most spices on their own don’t taste good. If you doubt that, go eat a ghost pepper, a stick of cinnamon, a handful of cardamom pods, or gnaw on a turmeric root. They all taste terrible when eaten by themselves.

“Wait a minute, ABS!” I hear you say, “That’s not how you’re supposed to use spices.” and you are correct about that. Plain and by themselves is how every other animal would be eating a spice though. Only humans combine different things to eat and cook it. That dilutes the defensive chemicals in the plants so they stop being repellent. Other animals can’t do that and instead would take that big bite of peppercorns, spit them out when they burn, and learn that plant is not food.