First of all, I think we can all agree that Primal food is a solid foundation of taste, nutrition, satiety, density, and volume. When you put a piece of well-cooked grass-fed steak, free of sugary salty soybean oil-infused sauces and unnecessary breading in your mouth, you appreciate that this is how meat was meant to be. When you use fresh vegetables, kale that bites back and asparagus that snaps in your mouth and cooked carrots that manage to be both tender and crispy at once, you know the goodness of produce. And these fill you up, they nourish, they enrich your life. Still, though, we humans possess the ability to perceive and appreciate a nearly infinite range of flavors and textures. Hundreds (if not thousands) of cuisines and flavors beckon, and we should probably entertain their advances. If we don’t, if we eat the same things all the time, we may run into food fatigue.
I’m probably a bad example of this, because I’m the type of guy who’d be pretty happy with just ten or so foods for the rest of my life. Still, even I like to change things up now and again. And it seems I’m not alone. This edition of Dear Mark is geared directly to you. Let’s go:
Yes, I know, I know. That title isn’t exactly comforting. I hate giving you guys bad news, seeing as how you make this website possible, and I hate making unpopular recommendations like “eat more butter” or “get some sun” or “drink a glass of red wine,” but I have to stick to the truth here, even if it hurts. And the truth is that you should probably be eating dark chocolate on a semi-regular basis because the stuff is pretty dang good for you. Before you log out, never to return again, give me a minute to explain myself:
Before I begin, let me preface this post with the identification of a simple confounder for everyone to consider as they read: context. Any discussion of a concept as nebulous, multifaceted, and confusing as inflammation must integrate the question of context. Inflammation itself is highly contextual – as I’ve discussed in previous installments, there are times when inflammation is a good thing and times when inflammation is a negative thing. There are also times when anti-inflammatory actions, drugs, or foods are negatives, even though “anti-inflammatory” has a positive connotation. If you blunt the post-exercise inflammatory response with an anti-inflammatory drug, for example, you also run the risk of blunting the positive effects of that workout.
Put down your rib-eyes, don’t thaw those chicken legs just yet, and step away from the pot roast. Don’t get me wrong – those are fine examples of animal muscle meat. Delicious, even. But they’re not all that we should be eating. Not by a long shot. Allow me to explain.
The other day, I received an enthusiastic email from a reader who’d just returned home from the grocery store with a sack of smoked turkey tails. Thanks to a little holiday called Thanksgiving, meat counters across the country are inundated with turkey parts: gizzards, livers, hearts, necks, backs, and tails. Most consumers rarely think of using turkey other than as a “healthy” replacement for ground beef or during Thanksgiving. But not our reader. No, he filled his freezer with smoked turkey tails and the whole experience apparently inspired him, because he wrote to tell me that maybe if I wrote a post extolling the benefits of all the “odd bits” of the animals you eat, other readers would also discover a whole new culinary world.
We typically think of culinary herbs as useful flavorants. They round out flavor profiles, add complexity to otherwise basic dishes, meld with other herbs to form novel taste compounds that you can’t quite place and cannot be replicated with any other combination, and, used with a subtle, skilled hand, simply make food taste incredible. Oh, and like most seemingly inconsequential things people have been adding to food for thousands of years, they also happen to have some fascinating health benefits. Huh – how about that? Things that taste good and have a long and storied culinary history might also be good for you? Amazing how that works out!
Let’s get down to it.
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