Bitter: The Lost Flavor of Health

By Joel Wasmann

The human tongue is capable of recognizing five flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, & umami. Sometimes pungent gets thrown into the mix but the tongue has no receptor for it and it is really just a sensation rather than a taste - think cayenne pepper.

Umami is such a subtle taste that it was only fairly recently discovered in Japan and has no real English translation, although it is sometimes referred to as savory. Umami is a faint meaty/smoky flavor usually present in mushrooms, red meat, some cheeses, and soy sauce. Sweet and salty are prominent flavors in our diet and we consume them in abundance. I can only assume we all get enough sweet and salty foods. The boldest and most paradoxical flavor of the bunch is bitter as it is often considered an undesirable flavor, yet it is so crucial to our health.

With our ancestors, a bitter taste might indicate a poisonous plant or food, compelling the consumer to stay away. We have, however evolved to not only accept...

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Dandelion Root Detox Tea

picture of a dandelion By Joel Wasmann

The Dandelion is used as an herbal remedy in European, Ayurvedic, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and oh yeah, its also a lawn weed.  The roots, leaves and flowers are all edible and very healthy, containing vitamins A, C, Potassium, Iron and Zinc, in much denser proportions than any other leafy green. The primary reason this flower is used worldwide however is for its bitter properties. “Bitter,” a taste that has become quite rare in our diet, is actually very important for our health. Our palate has a diminished  sense for the flavor “bitter” as salty and sweet have become increasingly and overly represented. Bitter naturally increases the flow of gastric juices including saliva in the mouth and bile flow which benefits the liver and gallbladder. Bitter flavors aid digestion but also help regulate blood sugar. Dandelion assists with these crucial functions especially well.

The Dandelion flower can be eaten fresh, just...

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