187 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 • 2.9K 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.

    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
    What Do Aliens Eat? Food in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

    What Do Aliens Eat? Food in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

    Whether you’re an adorable, candy-loving alien, a lost hobbit, a Federation starship captain, or the King in the North, you still need to eat. This episode, Gastropod is exploring the weird and wonderful world of food in science fiction and fantasy, from well-loved standards like Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings, to modern favorites like The Expanse, and all of the esoteric cult classics (parasitic frozen desserts, anyone?) in between. We talk to some of our favorite writers about how food helps them build worlds both foreign and familiar, chat with a legendary Hollywood food stylist to see how she brings stomach-turning Klingon meals and peacock-laden fantasy feasts to life on screen, and catch up with some of our listeners about the imagined tastes they’ll never forget. Fire up the replicator, pour yourself a glass of blue milk, and enjoy a bite of Lembas bread as you join us at this buffet of imaginary foods.
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    • 46 min
    Guest Episode: The Umami Mama by Unexplainable

    Guest Episode: The Umami Mama by Unexplainable

    Gastropod is excited to present this guest episode of Unexplainable. For thousands of years, there have been four basic tastes recognized across cultures. But thanks to Kumiko Ninomiya (a.k.a. the Umami Mama), scientists finally accepted a fifth. So could there be even more?
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    • 41 min
    Gut Feeling

    Gut Feeling

    Do you get butterflies in your stomach when you’re excited? Feel nauseated when you’re nervous? Get a knot in your gut when you're worried something bad is going to happen? Then you’ve experienced what’s called the gut-brain axis: a powerful connection between your brain and your stomach. And, if you’ve been on wellness social media over the last few years, you’ve probably heard that you can hijack this connection to help heal a whole host of mental illnesses, from taking probiotics for PTSD to treating depression with diet. But how much of this is science, and how much is modern-day snake oil? With the help of gastroenterologists, psychologists, and yes, the U.S. military, Gastropod is here to investigate! The answer involves prescription kefir, a trip to an Army base to play video games, and the trials and tribulations of some very melancholy mice—not to mention lots and LOTS of microbes. Listen in for the scoop on how tweaking your gut microbes can change your mind. (But, for your own health, please don’t drink every time we mention our favorite topic during this episode!)
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    • 51 min
    Green Gold: Our Love Affair With Olive Oil (encore)

    Green Gold: Our Love Affair With Olive Oil (encore)

    Olive oil is not what you think it is. According to Tom Mueller, author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, an olive is a stone fruit like a plum or cherry—meaning that the green-gold liquid we extract from it "is, quite literally, fruit juice." And, while we're blowing your minds, have you ever stopped to wonder what "extra virgin" means? "It's like extra dead or semi-pregnant," Mueller said. "I mean, it doesn't make any sense at all." This episode we visit two groves—one in the Old World, one in the New—to get to the bottom of olive oil's many mysteries. Listen in this episode as we find out why the ancient Romans rubbed it all over their bodies, and whether the olive oil on our kitchen counters really is what it says on the label. (Encore presentation)
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    • 52 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
2.9K Ratings

2.9K Ratings

jimmyp3000 ,

Love it

Learned a lot so far!! Best of all, I’m not wasting money on $9 CBD drinks anymore!! Super interesting, love this podcast

lizaleiselcultjam ,

Oh the voice!

Sorry, but the one host, with the silly half English, sing-song-y, over enunciated voice is more than I can take. Interesting, but just too, odd.

game oficianato ,

Best Podcast Ever!!

I absolutely love the blend of story telling and science all centered around food. Everyone has to eat but very few people realize the stories behind the foods we eat. I think this podcast is a beautiful exploration into the behind the scenes of one of our most necessary needs. I recommend this podcast to all of my friends and without fail they always fall in love. Keep up the great work Nicola and Cynthia!!

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