Should "Love" Be Considered an Ingredient?

October  5, 2017

I’ve always been taught that the best recipes are made with love. Nestled between layers of flavor, both savory and sweet, love is the special ingredient only the most dedicated chefs imbue their dishes with. Not to be overly romantic, but I've been told: Cook with love, and its taste will shine through even the thickest and heartiest of sauces.

Well, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, love has got no place in the foods we eat. On Tuesday, the government organization issued a letter to the owners of Nashoba Brooks Bakery in West Concord, Massachusetts. The bakery in question came under fire for citing “love” as one of the ingredients in their house-made granola. While the gesture was meant to be more fun than factual, it seems the FDA begged to differ.

“Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient ‘Love,’” reads the letter. “‘Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.” (No, FDA, love is most certainly not a usual ingredient name, but that's what makes it so special, right?) Though the FDA cited additional issues with the bakery, such as not-too-sanitary conditions, the crackdown comes off a little stilted and a tad Orwellian.

Shop the Story

It’s the marriage of intense bureaucratic lexicon with off-the-cuff cuteness that makes this case feel particularly funny. Obviously, it’s the sentiment that counts. Love is not measured by the teaspoon but felt in the give of a particularly gooey cake or the lush creaminess of a well-simmered risotto. So, go ahead, try some of our site's best granola recipes, and don't forget to add in that special, FDA-disapproved ingredient.

So, should love be considered an ingredient? Share your thoughts in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mickey
  • Kathryn Porterfield 1
    Kathryn Porterfield 1
  • wik
  • MarieGlobetrotter
  • Margaret
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Mickey October 8, 2017
Sorta like the special ingredient in Kung Fu Panda’s noodles?

Yes, lots of Love goes into my chocolate fudge brownies. Then shortly after I am filled with guilt after consuming those brownies.
Kathryn P. October 8, 2017
It is definitely an ingredient in the granola this nonna makes for her children and grandchildren! Love both goes into making it and returns to the maker from those who eat it.
wik October 8, 2017
hasn't anyone read the book or seen the film "Like Water for Chocolate"?
lovely evidence that emotions can change the outcome of food...
MarieGlobetrotter October 7, 2017
They have a lot of time to waste apparently. We all know love is not an ingredient. Seriously, these people should actually focus on making people eat healthier and getting food giants to follow regulations so that people don’t end up ending junk
Margaret October 7, 2017
If we're going to quibble about this, can we please address the rampant use of "homemade" in a lot of restaurants? I started noticing and now it drives me nuts... in whose house was the bread baked? That seems less genuine than the addition of "love". And yes, I think FDA intervention is silly.
Alexis M. October 5, 2017
Iron Chef Chairman: Today's secret ingredient is... *reveals empty table* LOOOVVVEEE! ALLEZ CUISINE!
AntoniaJames October 5, 2017
No. It's a cheesy, transparent marketing gimmick. On principle I would not buy anything that listed "love" as an ingredient. Period. ;o)
Erik October 5, 2017
I'll agree that food, made with love, is an important factor in the interpersonal relationship that is fostered by food, but is not an ingredient, and cannot be quantified when the "cook" is a faceless (to the consumer) company. A well-executed meal will taste the same regardless of whether the cook makes it with love or not. The love is "tasted" when the person hands you the food, beaming, and says, "I made this for you, I hope you like it."

Even if we are willing to consider "love" as an ingredient, there are undoubtedly times when the workers at Nashoba Brooks Bakery also make the food with boredom, anger, resentment, frustration, etc. We would never allow ingredient labeling to only list the items that the business wanted to highlight while ignoring others... if we allow Love to be listed as an ingredient, all the other emotions that go into the making of their granola should be listed, too...
cine October 5, 2017
i totally disagree with a dismissive, concrete attitude toward the ethereal ingredient, love. i'm old & started cooking when i had a single-digit age. yes, everyone LOVES my cooking and they beg for my recipes BUT when it doesn't come out "the same", they complain. i used to think it was substitutions (non organic or now gmo's) but long ago realized it was THE WAY, the spirit in which they cooked or baked.

i always cooked a meal for my family & friends with my heart and mind occupied with the love i had for them. you cannot discount the energy we have to empower our deeds with. their execution and spirit of intention, while spiritual, truly flavors the end result with YOU, your love, your heart, your intentions.

you can imagine my horror when i heard someone say they "took out their anger and aggression on bread dough" and then boasted they gifted friends with this bread. btw, what prompted me to respond here was as i was reading this article, i was sipping GTS komucha Tantric Turmeric whose last ingredient is listed as "100% pure love!!!"
cine October 5, 2017
and yeah, the three exclamation points are listed in the ingredients. love does nourish.