191 episodes

Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food. Find us online at gastropod.com, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/gastropodcast.

Gastropod Vox Media Podcast Network

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 150 Ratings

Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food. Find us online at gastropod.com, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/gastropodcast.

    What Is Native American Cuisine? (Encore)

    What Is Native American Cuisine? (Encore)

    Pasta, sushi, tacos, samosas, and pad thai: In the U.S., enthusiastic eaters will likely be able to name traditional dishes from a wide variety of cuisines around the world. But most of us couldn't name a single Native American dish from any one the vast network of tribes, cultures, and cuisines that spread across the U.S. before Europeans arrived. Today, farmers, activists, and chefs are trying to change that. They're bringing back Native foods—not just to teach all Americans about the indigenous foods of their country, but to improve the lives of Native Americans themselves, who suffer from some of the highest levels of debilitating and often deadly diet-related diseases. Can a return to a Native diet help?
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    • 46 min
    That Old Chestnut: A Nutty Tale, of Love, Loss, and Reconnection

    That Old Chestnut: A Nutty Tale, of Love, Loss, and Reconnection

    Just a little over a hundred years ago, eastern forests were studded with what was called "America's perfect tree": 100-foot giants with straight-grained, rot-resistant wood, which filled the woods every fall with delicious, nutritious nuts. This nut—the American chestnut—was a staple in the diet and culture of Indigenous peoples, local wildlife, and colonial Americans. Then, in the early 1900s, disaster struck: a deadly and seemingly unstoppable disease moved in and made the species functionally extinct. But Americans haven’t given up on the chestnut; there’s a movement today to bring back this iconic tree using a variety of ingenious approaches. So what will it take to return the “redwood of the East” to our forests—and its sweet, buttery nut to our plates? Join us this episode as we take a frolic through the chestnut’s forgotten history and the science underpinning its potential return, as well as visit a farm growing hybrid American chestnuts to taste for ourselves why they once drove Americans wild—and might soon do so again.
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    • 51 min
    Prescription Dinner: Can Meals Be Medicine?

    Prescription Dinner: Can Meals Be Medicine?

    We've all heard that what you eat affects your health—but doctors prescribing dinner? It's real: Medically tailored meals are specifically designed to treat conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease, as well nourish people going through chemotherapy and radiation. Today, in a handful of places around the US, eligible patients can receive them for free, prescribed by their medical provider and reimbursed by their health insurance. There's even legislation in Congress that would roll this program out nationwide. This episode, Gastropod investigates: how do medically tailored meals work? From the science of how nutritionally designed dinners can affect disease progression, to the economics behind why it makes sense for taxpayers and insurers to invest in food, to the tricky logistics of bringing prescription meals to the masses, listen in now for the scoop on one of the biggest stories in healthcare.
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    • 45 min
    Trouble in Paradise: Coconut War Waters and Coconut Oil Controversies

    Trouble in Paradise: Coconut War Waters and Coconut Oil Controversies

    Whether enrobed with chocolate in a candy bar or sucked up through a straw on the beach, coconut has become shorthand for the good life: clear blue waters, white sand beaches, and an ocean breeze. But it’s not just a tropical treat. All around the world, people who live alongside the coconut palm refer to it as the “tree of life,” thanks to its ability to provide food, oil, fresh water, and the sturdy raw materials to build homes, clothes, and even musical instruments—all from one plant. But can this delicious, Swiss Army-knife of a nut (that's not technically a nut) also prevent heart disease, clean your teeth, and even stave off Alzheimer's? This episode, Gastropod cracks open what makes coconuts so great, including their role as everything from a Presidential lifesaver to the missing ingredient in nuclear fusion. We've also got the backstabbing battle that made coconut water popular, and the science on all of that Paleo coconut oil hype. Plus, we take on our toughest field assignment yet: traveling to a tropical island to taste the fruit of the tree of life ourselves—if we can just figure out how to get it open...
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    • 47 min
    Does the Western Megadrought Mean the End of Cheap Cheese and Ice Cream?

    Does the Western Megadrought Mean the End of Cheap Cheese and Ice Cream?

    Imagine a summer's day without the jingle of the ice-cream truck, a pizza without its bubbling layer of melted cheesy goodness, or even a bowl of cereal without milk. It’s a shocking prospect, for sure, but the threat to these delights is perhaps even more surprising: The fact that Americans enjoy more than three times their body-weight in dairy products each year is, in no small part, due to a water-hungry plant that’s frequently, if counterintuitively, grown in the desert. That plant is alfalfa, and it makes up at least half of the diet of dairy cows all over the world. So why are we growing alfalfa in the arid American Southwest, and watering it from the Colorado River—both of which, as you may have heard on the news, are becoming drier with every passing day? To find out, Gastropod went on a good old-fashioned road trip for some field reporting (literally, in an alfalfa field) and talked to farmers, economists, plant experts, journalists, and exporters about where this surprisingly important plant fits in to a warming world—and how we can prevent a future lacking in lactose without also drying up the West.
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    • 51 min
    Lunch Gets Schooled (encore)

    Lunch Gets Schooled (encore)

    Across the United States, school lunch is being transformed, as counties and cities partner with local farms to access fresh vegetables, as well as hire chefs to introduce tastier and more adventurous meals. This is a much-needed correction after decades of processed meals that contained little in the way of nutrition and flavor. But how did we get to trays of spongy pizza and freezer-burned tater tots in the first place? While it seems as if such culinary delights were always part of a child's day, the school lunch is barely a century old—and there are plenty of countries in the world, like Canada and Norway, where school lunch doesn't even exist. This episode, we dive into the history of how we got to today's school lunch situation, as well as what it tells us about our economic and gender priorities. Listen in now for all that, plus the science on whether school lunch even matters. (encore)
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    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
150 Ratings

150 Ratings

randomalex ,

All good, nothing bad

Everything about this podcast makes me happy. Food and history and science; both Nicky and Cynthia as hosts; the stories, the rigour, and the sheer in every topic they cover. The range of topics is fantastic and I also love that the hosts don’t pretend to be including absolutely everything. One of my absolute go-to shows.

Ma2;790 ,

More episodes please

Love this show... keep them coming please

Jessemon37 ,

Food for ears

A whole new appeaciation for the things we love to eat!! Favourite ep is the on Stawberries

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