Changing Tastes – WHYY

What we make for dinner, grab as a snack, or have for breakfast changes all the time — and there are some major forces at play: consumer tastes and marketing, but also climate change, global supply chains, nutrition science, health concerns, and social media influencers. On this episode, we’ll look at what we eat and why.

We’ll find out how lima beans are getting a makeover, and why seed oils ended up becoming a lightning rod in nutrition debates. We’ll also taste a futuristic green with self-proclaimed superpowers, meet one physician who’s trying to convince people to eat more organ meats, and another who says to stay away from anything marketed as health food.


  • For four weeks, physician Chris van Tulleken gave up his healthy diet, and instead ate mostly ultra-processed foods: microwave lasagna, frozen pizza, sugary breakfast cereal, protein bars. It was all in the name of science! He’s been investigating the health impact of these foods, and has written a new book, “Ultra-Processed People: The Science Behind Food That Isn’t Food.” You can hear more from van Tulleken on his podcast, “A Thorough Examination with Drs Chris and Xand.”
  • Why are so many health influencers avoiding seed oils, and arguing that these oils are contributing to the rise in chronic illness? Liz Tung explores the great seed oil debate with physicians Cate Shanahan and Dariush Mozaffarian. We’ll also hear from Timothy Caulfield on why this topic took off online.
  • Reporter Alan Yu talks with physician Jonathan Reisman about his mission to convert Americans from steaks and chicken breasts to often unloved and unpopular organ meats, like hearts, livers, and spleens.

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