234 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
    • 4.7 • 3.3K 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.

    (Guest) Are Fast Food Jingles Pop Music?

    (Guest) Are Fast Food Jingles Pop Music?

    From our friends at Switched on Pop: Where were you when you learned that the McDonald's jingle "I'm lovin' it" was originally part of a full-fledged pop song by Justin Timberlake and Pharrell that flopped on the charts but found staying power as a slogan? For us, it was recording our live episode about sponsored content in pop back in March 2024, and we have not been the same since. Shaken by this revelation, we found ourselves asking, "What else don't we know about fast food jingles?"
    Turns out, it's a lot. From Taco Bell to Popeye's to Chili's, the music of fast food represent some of the most familiar melodies in society, across state lines and generations. But the stories behind those songs, and the way that fast food production and pop music production often move in parallel, was something we never saw coming.
    Since we are music experts but amateur foodies, we invited the brilliant hosts of Gastropod, Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, to help serve up the history of fast food and its changing role in culture. Tune in and pig out with us as we listen and debate the artistic and ethical implications of the sounds of fast food.
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    • 41 min
    Why Are Restaurants So Loud? Plus the Science Behind the Perfect Playlist

    Why Are Restaurants So Loud? Plus the Science Behind the Perfect Playlist

    When you go out for a meal, it’s not just what's on your plate that matters, it's what's in your eardrums, too. From dining rooms so loud you have to shout to be heard, to playlists that sound like a generic Millennial Spotify account, it's not surprising that sound is the single most complained about aspect of restaurants. This episode, Gastropod explores the science behind the sonic experience of eating. Are restaurants really getting louder, and, if so, why? What does it take to create the perfect acoustic environment for dining? Can restaurateurs design their playlists to make customers order more or eat faster? Listen in now for the secrets to culinary acoustic bliss!
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    • 43 min
    The Food Explorer (encore)

    The Food Explorer (encore)

    You've probably never heard of David Fairchild. But if you've savored kale, mango, peaches, dates, grapes, a Meyer lemon, or a glass of craft beer lately, you've tasted the fruits of his globe-trotting travels in search of the world's best crops—and his struggles to get them back home to the United States. This episode, we talk to Daniel Stone, author of The Food Explorer, a new book all about Fairchild's adventures. Listen in now for tales of pirates and biopiracy, eccentric patrons and painful betrayals, as well as the successes and failures that shaped not only the way we eat, but America's place in the world. ENCORE
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    • 42 min
    Meet the Most Famous American You’ve Never Heard Of: His Legacy is Excellent French Fries and Monsanto

    Meet the Most Famous American You’ve Never Heard Of: His Legacy is Excellent French Fries and Monsanto

    In his day, Luther Burbank was a horticultural rock star: everyone from opera singers to movie stars and European royalty to an Indian guru traveled to Santa Rosa, California, to meet him. Dubbed the "plant wizard," Burbank invented the plumcot and the stoneless plum, the white blackberry, and the potato variety used in every French fry you've ever eaten—as well as some 800 more new-and-improved plants, from walnuts to rhubarb. His fame as a plant inventor put him in the same league as Thomas Edison—but, while Edison patented his light bulb and phonograph, Burbank had no legal way to protect his crop creations. Listen now for the story of Luther Burbank, the most famous American you've never heard of, and how his struggles shaped what's on our supermarket shelves today, but also led to a world in which big companies like Monsanto can patent life. It's a wild ride that involves the death spiral of the Red Delicious and the rise of the Cosmic Crisp apple, as well as coded notebooks, detective agencies, rogue farmers, and a resistance movement led by former New York City mayor (and subsequent airport namesake) Fiorello La Guardia.
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    • 56 min
    All You Can Eat: The True Story Behind America's Most Popular Seafood

    All You Can Eat: The True Story Behind America's Most Popular Seafood

    Americans eat more shrimp than any other seafood: on average, each person in the US gobbles up close to six pounds of the cheap crustaceans every year. We can eat so many of these bug-like shellfish because they’re incredibly inexpensive, making them the stars of all-you-can-eat shrimp buffets and single-digit seafood deals. But we've got bad news: this is one bargain that's too good to be true. More than 90 percent of the shrimp we eat comes from overseas, where looser regulations lead to horrific labor abuses, environmental destruction, and the use of banned chemicals and antibiotics—all while American shrimpers struggle to survive. This episode, we’re exploring the history of how shrimp went from a fancy delicacy to buffet bargain (yes, Forrest Gump is involved), plus what to do if you want to enjoy everybody's favorite seafood with a clear conscience. Hold the cocktail sauce: this episode will change how you look at your favorite appetizer forever.
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    • 44 min
    The World Is Your Oyster: How Our Favorite Shellfish Could Save Coastlines Worldwide

    The World Is Your Oyster: How Our Favorite Shellfish Could Save Coastlines Worldwide

    If we at Gastropod were asked to name a perfect food, the oyster would be at the top of our list. Oysters are pretty much always our answer to the question of what we'd like to eat this evening—but are they also the answer to the slow-motion disaster of disappearing coastlines worldwide? Join us this episode as we discover how this magical mollusk contains a pearl of hope in the fight to counter rising sea-levels, prevent erosion, and buffer storm surges everywhere from hurricane-hit New Orleans to New York City's flood-prone fringes. But be prepared: you just might join the ranks of the oyster obsessed.
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    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
3.3K Ratings

3.3K Ratings

AnnOh305 ,

Food and Science Explained Entertainingly

My husband and I listen to podcasts while eating dinner. We’re retired and don’t want to discuss stressful things while eating. We both really enjoy listening to Gastropod. We learn so much about food myths and facts in an enjoyable way. Highly recommend Gastropod.

lilikoen ,

Can’t unhear the strange accent

I used to listen to the pod a while back and I did like it, wasn’t a diehard fan but thought it was enjoyable! Then I started to notice more the one woman’s voice and the strange accent coming through at random inconsistent times. Don’t get me wrong idk if this is something she can even help, but I just can’t UNhear it anymore. I hadn’t listened in a while and then started the latest episode via switched on pop (which I love) and I had to stop listening bc it was driving me nuts. It starts to sound sort of uncanny valley AI or something. Idk not a bad pod but just so hard to listen to!

rosemerryberry ,

All time favorite podcast

Have been listening to/ supporting this podcast for years: completely impressed with the depth of the content. As a dietitian by training I always learn something more or deepen my knowledge on existing topics- food is at the center of everything so you come away with a lot of knowledge on the world and its history.

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