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Gastropod

Brought to you by, Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

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Gastropod

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.

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Recent Episodes of Gastropod


The Birth of Cool: How Refrigeration Changed Everything

The Birth of Cool: How Refrigeration Changed Everything

For as long as we’ve been making Gastropod, co-host Nicky has also been working on another project: writing a book all about refrigeration. Well, time to pop the champagne you’ve had stashed in the icebox, because that book comes out June 25—and we’re giving Gastropod listeners an exclusive preview! This episode, Cynthia and Nicky talk about how a high school dropout's get-rich-quick scheme, some deadly explosions, and lots and lots of beer brought us the humming boxes of cold now ubiquitous in the modern kitchen—and how the proliferation of this portable, on-demand winter has transformed our food...

Episode 11 June 2024 48m and 30s


Omega 1-2-3 (encore)

Omega 1-2-3 (encore)

Based on all the hype, you'd be forgiven for believing that the fish oils known as omega-3s are the solution to every problem. Heart disease, dementia, depression, even obesity—the list of ailments that experts claim a daily dose of omega-3 can help prevent seems endless. And with more than ten percent of Americans taking a capsule of fish oil daily, omega-3s are one of the most profitable supplements in the world, too. Listen in this episode, as author Paul Greenberg and scientist JoAnn Manson help us figure out what these supposedly miracle molecules are, and what consum...

Episode 4 June 2024 44m and 45s


Sugar's Dark Shadow

Sugar's Dark Shadow

Your pantry's sweetest ingredient has an extremely bitter history. The sap-producing grass known as sugarcane has been grown and enjoyed by humans for at least 10,000 years, but it was only relatively recently that it went from a luxury to an everyday ingredient—a change that also triggered genocide, slavery, and the invention of modern racism. In this episode, how the Crusades got Europeans addicted to the sweet stuff, and how that appetite deforested southern Europe and kicked off the trade in enslaved Africans, before decimating indigenous populations in the New World and codifying racism into law. It's a dark st...

Episode 28 May 2024 51m and 35s


(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...

Episode 21 May 2024 41m and 3s


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 cu...

Episode 14 May 2024 43m and 48s


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 e...

Episode 7 May 2024 42m and 12s


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 p...

Episode 30 April 2024 56m and 48s


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 Amer...

Episode 16 April 2024 45m and 21s


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 jo...

Episode 2 April 2024 50m and 22s


Eat This, Not That: The Surprising Science of Personalized Nutrition (encore)

Eat This, Not That: The Surprising Science of Personalized Nutrition (encore)

This episode, we've got the exclusive on the preliminary results of the world's largest personalized nutrition experiment. Genetic epidemiologist Tim Spector launched the study, called PREDICT, to answer a simple but important question: do we each respond to different foods differently? And, if so, why? How much of that difference is genetic, how much is due to gut microbes, and how much is due to any one of the dozens of other factors that scientists think affect our metabolic processes? You’ve heard of personalized medicine, will there be such a thing as personalized diets? And should there be? Ca...

Episode 26 March 2024 57m and 30s

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