Maria Godoy

Over the past 70 years, ultra-processed foods have come to dominate the U.S. diet. These are foods made from cheap industrial ingredients and engineered to be super-tasty and generally high in fat, sugar and salt.

It was the morning after the election of America's first black president, and Kwame Onwuachi was hungover. He'd been partying all night. He was dealing drugs to survive after he dropped out of college. He was, he says, lost.

But when he saw President Obama, something clicked. "I thought, I can do anything. And I immediately flushed everything that I had down the toilet and was like, I need to find myself," Onwuachi recalls.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Losing weight can be difficult, exhausting and frustrating. With all the poor information and bad messages out there, it's hard to know what really works when it comes to weight loss. NPR's Science Desk is working on stories about overcoming the biological and mental hurdles to losing weight, and we want to hear from you.

By now, you've likely heard the argument to eat less meat for the health of the planet. Heck, even Beyoncé has been pushing this message, dangling the prospect of free concert tickets for life before fans to raise interest in plant-based eating for the environment.

Leif Parsons for NPR; Source: whologwhy/Flickr

The Super Bowl isn't just one of the biggest sporting events of the year. It's also one of the biggest eating events. And whether your team wins or loses the big game can influence how you enjoy your food – and how much of it you consume – even the day after.

If you like this article, you should check out Life Kit, NPR's new family of podcasts for navigating your life — everything from finances to diet and exercise to raising kids. Sign up for the newsletter to learn more and follow @NPRLifeKit on Twitter. Email us at lifekit@npr.org. Follow NPR's Maria Godoy @mgodoyh.

I have become the type of person that used to mystify me. I ... am a fitness fanatic.

It was a hot day at the zoo when Jordan Carlson's son, who has motor-planning delays, got thirsty. "We went to the snack bar and found out they had a 'no straw' policy," Carlson says. "It was a hot day and he couldn't drink."

Experts will tell you that if you want to raise a kid who eats just about everything, you should feed them what you eat — assuming you're eating a varied, healthy diet. It's what most cultures have done for most of human history.

But American culture sends parents a very different message. Kids menus full of so-called "kid foods" like chicken nuggets, pizza and french fries are everywhere. There's good reason why salty, sweet and fatty foods appeal to kids: It's basic biology.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Where other chefs might see kitchen trash, Tim Ma finds treasure — for his culinary creations, and his bottom line.

Can a $12 lunch change the way people think about racial wealth disparity in America? How about a $30 lunch? That's the premise behind a social experiment playing out in a New Orleans food stall.

Chef Tunde Way opened his pop-up stall in the city's Roux Carre venue in early February. The listed price for the Nigerian food is $12. But when white people walk up to order, they are asked whether they want to pay $30. Why? "It's two-and-a half times more than the $12 meal, which reflects the income disparity" between whites and African-Americans in New Orleans, says Wey.

The Trump administration unleashed a flood of outrage earlier this month after unveiling a proposal to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. The plan would replace half the benefits people receive with boxed, nonperishable — i.e. not fresh — foods chosen by the government and not by the people eating them.

In December 1955, after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white man, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other black ministers and community leaders organized a citywide bus boycott in protest. That part is well known.

Less well-known is the story of Georgia Gilmore, the Montgomery cook, midwife and activist whose secret kitchen fed the civil rights movement.

Exercise is great for your health. But if you're looking to lose weight in the new year, you should know this: How much you eat ultimately matters more than how much you work out.

Like a lot of Americans, I've got some extra pounds to shed. So about two months ago, I started tracking everything I eat using an app called Lose It! It's one of several apps out there — like MyFitnessPal and MyPlate – designed to help you watch your diet. When I eat something, I can look up how many calories it contains in the app. If my food isn't listed, I add it myself.

Food waste is a huge problem globally — starting with our own refrigerators. Over this Thanksgiving week, Americans will throw out almost 200 million pounds of turkey alone, according to figures from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But before you toss that bird, read on. We asked Massimo Bottura, one of the world's best chefs, to help us figure out what to do with our holiday leftovers.

Bedecked in fondant and flowers, modern wedding cakes are the centerpiece of the marriage feast — an edible form of art. But are they also an expression of free speech?

That is the question the Supreme Court will consider this fall when it hears the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple because he said it would violate his religious beliefs.

"You'd think cake would be apolitical, and yet here we are," muses baker Catherine George of Catherine George Cakes.

At 87, Dolores Huerta is a living civil rights icon. She has spent most of her life as a political activist, fighting for better working conditions for farmworkers and the rights of the downtrodden, a firm believer in the power of political organizing to effect change.

In 1980, soon after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, Zubair Popal fled the country with his wife, Shamim, two young sons and infant daughter.

"There was no hope for me to stay," he recalls. "I thought about the future of my kids. And in those days when the Soviet Union went to a country and invaded that country, they never left."

John T. Edge is a man who knows how spin a good yarn. Listening to him talk can feel like falling under the spell of your favorite college professor. He's wickedly smart, funny, warm and welcoming.

And for years, the tale he's been telling is all about Southern food: about its central role in Southern identity, and about what it owes to the African-American and immigrant cooks who have historically been left out of the standard narratives the South tells about itself.

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