“Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt. Taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make our food system healthier.”—Michael Pollan, from Cooked. The book examines the basic elements of cooking. The simple act of cooking can connect us in many different ways.
Whether in fiction or history, women have often gotten a bad rap for being fickle. But it may just be evolution. A landmark meta-analysis suggests that ovulating women have evolved to prefer mates who display ‘sexy traits’ (think muscular build, dominant behavior, symmetrical facial features). UCLA psychologist Martie Haselton, who is one of a handful of pioneers in research on behavioral changes at ovulation, explains that sexy traits are not typically desired in long-term mates.
“Women who were partnered with men, who at one point in the study they rated them as very satisfying long-term partners, but not the sexiest guys around - those women experienced increases in attraction to men other than their partner on fertile days of the cycle. So, it’s as if women on fertile days place a premium on male partners’ sexiness and if their male partner isn’t sexy, then women start to notice other men.”
While these findings may seem depressing, Haselton argues that just understanding this can help couples improve their relationships when in conflict.
“Once you understand how your mind works, what the mechanisms are that might otherwise be passing under the radar of conscious awareness, you can ‘mind hack’ and do things to achieve whatever your goals are – so, to maintain a happy relationship with your partner, or maybe it’s to have a wild sex life, but whatever it is, if women understand that there are these patterned changes across the cycle, then they can probably make better sexual decisions.”
The mere notion that a woman’s mate preferences could shift at high fertility has been a source of debate since the late 1990s, when the first studies that hinted at such a change began to appear. Since then, several papers failed to replicate the early studies’ results, casting doubt on the hypothesis.
“Until the past decade, we all accepted this notion that human female sexuality was radically different from sexuality in all of these other animal species – that, unlike other species, human female sexuality was somehow walled off from reproductive hormones. Then a set of studies challenged conventional wisdom.”
One hypothesis for why this mate preference shift occurs is that it may be an evolutionary adaptation that served our ancestors’ reproductive interests long before modern medicine, nutrition and sanitation greatly reduced infant and child mortality rates.
“Science works on the frontier between knowledge and ignorance. We’re not afraid to admit what we don’t know. There’s no shame in that. The only shame is to pretend that we have all the answers.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (via we-are-star-stuff)
“Most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it — in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone — is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming ‘edible foodlike substances’ — no longer the products of nature but of food science.”—Michael Pollan, from In Defense of Food.
Pollan explores the landscape of the American diet, where food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion. The result is what he calls the American paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become.
Your DNA is not a blueprint. Day by day, week by week, your genes are in a conversation with your surroundings. Your neighbors, your family, your feelings of loneliness: They don’t just get under your skin, they get into the control rooms of your cells.
“First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”
So they gathered 156 middle-aged couples who had been married a long time. Every five years, these couples came to the lab and the researchers watched them interact and resolve arguments (while monitoring different physiological markers):
"When we started, we were convinced that it was all going to be about regulating the husband’s [emotional] temperature because men tend to get uncomfortable with conflict and want to solve it quickly. That was our hunch, but it turned out to be just the opposite. Couples who seemed to get happier over the 20-year study were those who could regulate the wife’s emotions." 
The interesting thing was that it didn’t matter how quickly the husband cooled down after an argument, but it made a lot of difference how quickly the wife cooled down.
So is this a gender thing? Levenson isn’t certain that the results indicate gender differences. The BIG caveat is that this is only a group of 156 couples (of a particular place and generation, with particular educational, ethnic, and religious backgrounds):
"In these groups there tends to be a confounding of gender with power. So in many of these marriages the husband has more power. In the older group they may have that because they’re the one who is more likely to have had a career.
And so we’re often not sure with these kinds of findings whether it has to do with women or it has to do with the person in the relationship who has less power.”
Levenson has also done research with same-sex couples (some of the only studies of this kind). In male/male and female/female couples, he noticed a similar pattern where the more powerful person ended up looking like the male in heterosexual relationships. Power and the desire to change a relationship were more powerful factors than a person’s gender.
The person with less power tends to want more change in the relationship. They tend to be more frustrated and less satisfied when the issues they raise aren’t resolved. ”It would be quite reasonable to think that the less powerful person would be the one for whom cooling down would be more critical,” he explains.