Exploring the history of vanilla flavouring
A new commission for Science Gallery Dublin
Part of FAKE, 2 March to 3 June, 2018
Vanilla is one of the world’s most in-demand flavours, and yet only 1% of it derives from a ‘natural’ source — the vanilla planifolia orchid, native to Mexico. Most vanilla on the market today is man-made vanillin, a synthetic single chemical compound and a much cheaper product. As consumers increasingly demand all-natural products, the industry is turning to synthetic biology for new ways to create ‘all-natural vanillin’.
Considering consumer demand, product scarcity and environmental circumstances, is natural really the most important consideration when it comes to vanilla? If given the opportunity, could you even taste the difference between real and imitation?