Are nutrient deficiencies common among chefs?

January 19th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

I don’t pretend to have culinary skill, and to the best of my knowledge, I get all the iron, riboflavin, niacin, and magnesium my body needs. (Which is to say I have no idea that I do.) But my mid-morning meal of tofu with almond butter, honey, and arugula—the latest in a string of ghastly food combinations I’ve chosen for my subsistence—got me thinking about food cravings.

Second to pregnancy, nutrient deficiency seems to be the most common reason attributed to bizarre cravings, with eating disorder being another popular explanation. And most chefs make their living and reputation by creating dishes that combine foods in ways that most of us would never fathom or that we find repulsive—until we’ve tried them, at least.

I believe that the correlation—or cause-effect relationship, though I don’t know which direction—between culinary skill and eating disorders is well-established, but I wonder how often, if at all, chefs draw accidental inspiration from nutrient deficiencies. The overlap seems logical, whether it’s real or not.

Related to that: Do women often find that they are better chefs and / or have a more adventurous palate post-pregnancy? I don’t think my readers include many pregnant women, or for that matter, women, or for that matter, readers, so I’m just asking rhetorically.

Anyway, these are the kinds of questions I usually ask myself, then spend a half-hour “researching” with a series of self-answering Google searches before realizing the explanation is boring or well-established or dubious or inconclusive or otherwise not worth blogging about. But I have a colleague awaiting a return phone call and a sewer model that needs building, so I don’t have time for that today. (But time enough to speculate, strangely.)