There are many good things that could be said about NBC’s The Biggest Loser. I can give it accolades for its goal to help people lose weight through exercise and, more importantly, by completely re-thinking their diets. And I can praise it for the inspiration it has instilled in many people around the country to follow in the footsteps of the contestants on their own weight loss journeys.
But nobody’s perfect.
Do you know what the most stressful thing in your life is? The chair.
Most of us sit strapped into to our office chairs for a good portion of our waking hours. Hunched over a computer, our bones and backs begin to ache. Then what do we do? Why, we sit in a car for a nice long stretch (which involves no actual stretching), just in time to get home and plop our desperate behinds down on the sofa.
Are you doing Umame? No, it’s not the latest dance craze (thank God the Macarena has passed us by) and it’s not a jukebox. Umame is the fifth taste sensation, and until recently we Americans didn’t even know we had it. Never fear: Michelin-rated chefs are falling all over themselves to create the ultimate “umame bomb” (expect truffles, pancetta, blue cheese, bacon, garlic and the last living crustacean of whichever sea bug is most endangered at precisely this point in time).
We all grew up with the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty. But there is a fifth taste, umame, that translates as “savory” or “flavorful”. It’s that rich, deeply satisfying, sensual taste. Think gravy, steak, brie cheese, proscuitto, truffles, parmesan – that’s umame. Humans instinctively seek it out, which is why those low-fat chocolate cookies of the 90s failed to satisfy. We want umame. I think there’s a bit of a Primal aspect here – our tongues know how to identify what is rich and satisfying, even if we Westerners lacked the word until recently. For any doubting Thomases, Japanese researchers identified umame a century ago, and thank goodness we’re finally catching up. In the spirit of the fifth taste, here are 10 healthy Primal-minded meals that are sure to satisfy that spot:
I’ve long been suspicious of the side effects of certain chemicals present in plastics that are billed as safe. Even mainstream sources have been questioning the safety of particular toxic chemicals found in petroleum-based products, namely phthalates.
Experts initially dismissed the phthalate debate as nothing more than needless, unsubstantiated worry. Subsequent studies gave the concerns some validity and recommendations to conduct further investigations were deemed worthy. Still, until recently, the evidence was not persuasive enough for the authorities. Now the lid on the Tupperware, as it were, has sealed.
The government has finally gotten around to giving a damn for disadvantaged women and children. It only took Uncle Sam 30 years. WIC is getting a long-overdue overhaul. The good news: fruits and vegetables are on the menu. It stuns me that produce wasn’t a priority before; in the world’s richest country, things like developmental defects, rickets, bad teeth and poor brain development ought to strike shame in all of us. But then again, seeing as how Uncle Sam considers produce to be a “specialty” crop and direct subsidy funds to corn, chemicals, soybean oil, milk and factory meat instead, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. I’m glad WIC is getting the overhaul; the dairy and meat crowd, understandably, is not pleased. (I’d be displeased by this as well, except for the fact that the sort of animal protein tossed WIC’s way is hardly desirable.) My issue with WIC is the misguided emphasis on whole grains. That’s right: the overhaul is introducing more grains into the program. Hey, guys, didn’t you get the memo? We did grains in the 80s, back when we believed your diatribes against fat.
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