Most Americans now have more choices when it comes to food than any other group of people in the history of the world. We are so, so lucky to live in a time and place when we get to choose between feasting on fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market… and ordering a meat lover’s pizza delivered right to our door.
With such a ridiculous abundance of options, how do we actually decide what’s for dinner?
On Why We Eat What We Eat, host Cathy Erway investigates the unseen forces that shape our eating habits. We’ll tackle a kale conspiracy, how to get your kids to quit being so picky, visiting the epicenter of the potluck scene, and more.
Brought to you by Blue Apron and Gimlet Creative.
The stats say that mealtimes are becoming a smaller and smaller part of Americans’ lives. The average American eats one out of every five meals in their car. Americans eat alone nearly half the time. And, when we eat alone, we tend to eat less healthy foods. But sometimes we actually pause and take a moment to cook for someone else. Today’s episode is about what can happen during those moments. For our sixth and final episode of the season, we sent producers around the country to record people getting together over food. We’re bringing you five scenes of people cooking for others over the course of just one weekend — from a Brooklyn apartment where new parents are having their first post-baby dinner party to the heart of Cajun country where people are keeping traditional cajun cooking alive to the desert of Utah and a meal with a legend. Because sometimes we eat what we eat because of who we’re with.
This episode features: Debbie Kim Michaelson, Managing Director at DeSantis Breindel; Erik Michielsen, founder and CEO of Capture Your Flag; Carl Landry, owner of Black Pot Bus Catering; Mara Lazer, audio producer; Meg McWilliams, digital media producer & host of The Green Divas Radio Show; Ranjan Dey, chef and owner of New Delhi Restaurant; Alyssa Jeong Perry, audio journalist; Cat Jaffe, radio producer and founder of House of Pod; Jim Donini, record-setting mountain climber and alpinist.
What the Heck Is Duck Sauce?
There are more Chinese restaurants in the United States than McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Combined. But the iconic menu items you’ll find in many of them bear almost no resemblance to traditional Chinese food.
In today’s episode, we find out how immigration laws contributed to the rise of Chinese restaurants, debate the pros and cons of cooking with a flat-bottomed wok, and ask the eternal question: what the heck is duck sauce?
This episode features:Tina Erway, Cathy’s mom; Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, and producer of The Search for General Tso; Brian Wong, co-owner of Tong Fong Low, a Chinese restaurant with two locations in rural Northern California; Kian Lam Kho, cook, author of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees; Grace Young, “wok evangelist" and author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
The Climate Change Diet
When you think about the climate change, you might think about how it’ll affect where you’ll live, or get around. But one of the most intimate effects of climate change will be on what we eat. Sea level rise, more frequent droughts, extreme weather and more will reshape our diets. On this episode of Why We Eat What We Eat, we develop a diet of the future -- the “Climate Change Diet” -- for two brave volunteers.
View artist Allie Wist’s “Flooded” project here.
Rachel’s recipe for “Climate Change Cake”- 3 cups apples, chopped (from 4-5 “ugly” apples) - 3 tsp cinnamon - 3 Tbsp sunflower oil - ⅓ cup plain yogurt - 1/2 cup date molasses - 3 eggs from a non-industrial farm - 1 tsp bourbon - 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour - 1 1/2 tsp baking powder - 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and slick a round baking pan with sunflower oil.
Mix your apples, cinnamon, yogurt, eggs, oil, date molasses, and bourbon together in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, stir the buckwheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold together. Scrape them into the baking pan and even the top out with a spatula.
Bake for an hour, until a toothpick or tester comes out clean. Cool it in the pan for a few minutes before turning it out onto a rack.
It spoils quickly, so eat it fast.
This episode features: CC Buckley - herbalist and food stylist; Nate Cleveland - dieter; Max Elder - futurist at the Institute for the Future; Rachel Ward - dieter; Allie Wist - Brooklyn-based artist
Potluck Capital of the World
Sometimes we eat what we eat because there’s a shared tradition and history that brings us together, and sometimes we eat what eat because it’s what was brought to the table. That’s the potluck. In this week’s episode, we travel to what is arguably the potluck capital of the world —Minnesota — and trace the origin of the potluck- from the American prairie, to the Great Depression, to the present day. We’ll hear from Americans who’ve been potlucking for generations and Americans who are brand new to it.
Recipe for Donna's Potato Hotdish
I Eat Everything, Except…
Macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese. American kids are known around the world for their bland, boring palates. But what happens if you never outgrow the kids’ menu? Today on the show, we’re exploring the secret lives of adult picky eaters. Why are some people so finicky about their food? Is it psychological? Physiological? Can we blame our parents, just like we do for everything else? Is pickiness incurable? And why do we even care what foods other people do or do not put in their mouths?
This episode features: Alissa Nutting, novelist, author of Made for Love, and professor of creative writing at Grinnell CollegeKimberly Trout, certified nurse midwife at Pennsylvania Hospital and professor of women’s health at the University of PennsylvaniaCatherine Crawford, author of French Twist: An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian ParentingStephanie Lucianovic, food writer, children’s book author, and author of Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate
The Search for Big Kale
In our first episode, we take on food trends — specifically, the biggest food trend of the last decade: kale.
Kale isn’t an especially flashy vegetable. It’s slightly bitter, hard to digest, and lasts forever in your fridge. Rumor has it that, until 2011, the biggest kale buyer used it to garnish their salad bar. Now, it’s on 1 out of every 5 menus in the U.S.
Something — or someone — catapulted kale into a status symbol. In our quest to find the story of how kale got cool, we’ll trace its rise back nearly 20 years and even, possibly, uncover a full-blown kale conspiracy.
You might think kale is over, but you haven’t heard anything yet.
This episode features: David Sax, author of The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with FondueEve Turow Paul, Millennial food culture consultant and author of A Taste of Generation YumMike Kostyo, Senior Publications Manager at DatassentialBo Muller-Moore, T-shirt artist and founder of EatMoreKale.com
So easy to listen to and so interesting!
This podcast is so digestible, great storytelling/formatting, and I learned so much in its short 6 episodes. I so wish there were more!
Please continue this interesting exploration of food!
I really love this podcast, and am disappointed that there isn’t more to listen to! It’s a very interesting and engaging way to learn about food, culture, immigration, and how cultures blend to make something beautiful. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️please please make more!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Please add additional episodes to this podcast!