Gastropod podcast

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.

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.

 

#230

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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

02 Apr 2024

49 MINS

49:37

02 Apr 2024


#229

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? Can teasing out the nuances of how each individual body processes different foods make us all healthier? To find out, we signed ourselves up as study participants, sticking pins in our fingers, weighing our food, and providing fecal samples, all for science—and for you, dear listeners. Listen in now as we take part in this ground-breaking study, discover our own differences, and find out the early results! (Encore episode) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

26 Mar 2024

56 MINS

56:45

26 Mar 2024


#228

Bam! How Did Cajun Flavor Take Over the World?

If "Cajun-style" only makes you think of spicy chicken sandwiches and popcorn shrimp, you need to join us in the Big Easy this episode, to meet the real Cajun flavor. Cajun cuisine and its close cousin, Creole, were born out of the unique landscape of the Mississippi River delta, whose bounty was sufficient to support large, complex Indigenous societies, without the need for farming or even social hierarchies, for thousands of years. Europeans were slow to appreciate the wealth of this waterlogged country, but, as waves of French, Spanish, and American colonists and enslaved Africans arrived in Louisiana and the port of New Orleans, they all shaped the food that makes it famous today. But it would take a formerly enslaved woman turned international celebrity chef, a legendary restaurant that's hosted Freedom Riders, U.S. presidents, and Queen B, and a blackened redfish craze to turn Louisiana's flavorsome food into a global trend. Come on down to the bayou this episode, as we catch crawfish and cook up a storm to tell the story of how Cajun and Creole flavors ended up on home-cooking shows, in Disney movies, and at drive-throughs nationwide. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

19 Mar 2024

49 MINS

49:16

19 Mar 2024


#227

Anything's Pastable (Guest Episode)

After Dan’s pasta shape, cascatelli, was launched, people everywhere were cooking with it and sending him photos of what they were making. As exciting as that was, he was disappointed that most folks were only making a handful of well-worn dishes with this new shape. So Dan decided to write a cookbook to show the world that there’s so much more you can and should be putting on all your pasta shapes, cascatelli and beyond! There’s only one problem: he’s never written a recipe in his life. In this four-part series, Dan shares the inside story of creating his first cookbook, Anything’s Pastable — from the highs and lows of recipe testing, to a research trip across Italy, to the agonizing decisions over the design of the cover. Listen to this special guest episode of The Sporkful now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

12 Mar 2024

47 MINS

47:45

12 Mar 2024


#226

Can You Patent a Pizza?

Close your eyes and imagine this: a world without stuffed crust pizza. We know!—but that was the dismal state of the Italian flatbread scene before 1985, when Anthony Mongiello, aka The Big Cheese, came up with an innovation that loaded even more cheese onto pizza, while saving crusts nationwide from the trashcan. It was a multi-million dollar idea, Mongiello was sure—if only he could figure out how to protect his intellectual property and license it. But can you copyright the recipe for stuffing the crust? Could that puffy, cheese-filled rim be trademarked, or the technique for making it qualify as a trade secret? Can you patent a pizza? And did Pizza Hut, which unveiled their own stuffed crust pie in 1995, steal his idea—or does the concept of a cheesy crust belong to humanity as a whole? This episode, we're diving deep into the weird and wonderful world of food IP, via the legendary legal battles to defend Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish, Smucker's Uncrustables, and that futuristic mall treat of the 90s, Dippin' Dots ice cream. Listen in now for the true story of stuffed crust pizza—a story in which creativity, commerce, and lots and lots of cheese collide. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

05 Mar 2024

50 MINS

50:13

05 Mar 2024


#225

Super Fry: The Fight for the Golden Frite (encore)

Shoestring, waffle, curly, or thick-cut: however you slice it, nearly everyone loves a deep-fried, golden brown piece of potato. But that's where the agreement ends and the battles begin. While Americans call their fries "French," Belgians claim that they, not the French, invented the perfect fry. Who's right? This episode, we take you right into the heart of the battle that continues to be waged over who owns the fry—who invented it, who perfected it, who loves it the most? And then we take you behind the scenes into another epic fight: the struggle for the perfect fry. Can food scientists create a fry with the ultimate crispy shell and soft inside, one that can stay that way while your delivery driver is stuck in traffic? Plus, the condiment wars: does mayo really have the edge over ketchup? Listen in now to find out! (Encore episode) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

27 Feb 2024

43 MINS

43:46

27 Feb 2024


#224

Dining at the (Other) Top of the World: Hunger, Fruitcake, and the Race to Reach the South Pole

In contrast to the abundance of the Arctic, in Antarctica, "once you leave the coast, you're basically heading to the moon." Jason Anthony, who spent several summers on the seventh continent, told us that in this desert of ice and stone (where the largest terrestrial animal is a tiny wingless midge), food isn't just important—it's everything. This episode is packed full of stories of survival at Earth's southernmost points, from Heroic Era expedition chefs whipping up croissants on the ice, to desperate Dorito auctions when supplies run low today. Plus, listen in now for the scoop on how food fueled the race to the South Pole—and determined the ultimate winner and loser. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

20 Feb 2024

43 MINS

43:48

20 Feb 2024


#223

Dining at the Top of the World: Arctic Adaptation, Abundance, and...Ice Cream

You may feel like it's cold where you live, but in the Arctic, the average temperature is well below freezing all year round. In winter, it's also pitch black for weeks on end—not an ideal environment for growing food. Still, for thousands of years, people in the Arctic have thrived in a landscape that most outsiders would find fatally inhospitable. This episode, we point our compasses north on a journey to discover how traditional knowledge, ingenuity, and a lot of hard work—combined with genetics and microbes—have allowed the indigenous populations of the far North to not only successfully feed themselves, but also develop a distinctive and remarkable cuisine. Tune in now for the secrets of a dish that feels like Fourth of July fireworks in your mouth, the story of Iceland's second-most famous celebrity (after Björk), and the science behind how to avoid scurvy on an almost vegetable-free diet. Just don't forget your long underwear! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

06 Feb 2024

52 MINS

52:41

06 Feb 2024


#222

Cork Dork: Inside the Weird World of Wine Appreciation (encore)

“There’s the faintest soupçon of asparagus and just a flutter of Edam cheese,” says Paul Giamatti in the movie Sideways. Believe it or not, he's describing pinot noir, not quiche. The world of sommeliers, wine lists, and tasting notes is filled with this kind of language, prices seemingly rising in step with the number of bizarre adjectives. It's tempting to dismiss the whole thing as B.S., but listen in: this episode, author Bianca Bosker takes us along on her journey into the history and science behind blind tasting, wine flavor wheels, and the craft of the sommelier. You'll never feel lost in front of a wine list again. (encore) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

23 Jan 2024

45 MINS

45:58

23 Jan 2024


#221

It's Tea Time: Pirates, Polyphenols, and a Proper Cuppa (encore)

This week, Gastropod tells the story of two countries and their shared obsession with a plant: Camellia sinensis, otherwise known as the tea bush. The Chinese domesticated tea over thousands of years, but they lost their near monopoly on international trade when a Scottish botanist, disguised as a Chinese nobleman, smuggled it out of China in the 1800s, in order to secure Britain's favorite beverage and prop up its empire for another century. The story involves pirates, ponytails, and hard drugs—and, to help tell the tale, Cynthia and Nicky visit Britain's one and only commercial tea plantation, tucked away in a secret garden on an aristocratic estate on the Cornish coast. While harvesting and processing tea leaves, we learn the difference between green and black tea, as well as which is better for your health. Put the kettle on, and settle in for the science and history of tea! (encore edition) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

09 Jan 2024

45 MINS

45:21

09 Jan 2024


#220

The Case of the Confusing Bitter Beverages: Vermouth, Amaro, Aperitivos, and Other Botanical Schnapp...

When it comes to booze, it’s fun to be bitter: an Aperol spritz has been the drink of summer for about five years, vermouth and soda was  [apparently] (https://www.wsj.com/articles/vermouth-soda-drink-11674143819) the "hot girl" drink of 2023, and amaro is having " [a major moment] (https://www.delish.com/food/a41652646/american-amaro-moment/) ." Bitter botanical beverages are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean we understand what on earth they are. Could you explain the difference between vermouth and amaro, or whether either is an aperitif or a digestif? Where do Aperol, Campari, and Chartreuse fit in, and what’s the difference between drinks called bitters and the bitters your bartender dashes into a Manhattan? This episode, Gastropod is on the case of the confusing bitter beverages, starting with their origins in alchemy. (That pre-dinner spritz is pretty magical!) Listen in now to find out why Napoleon chugged cologne, how a shopkeeper’s assistant created the preferred drink of kings and influencers, and how you should enjoy these trendy new botanical beverages. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

19 Dec 2023

51 MINS

51:11

19 Dec 2023


#219

Rice, Rice Baby

Though rice might not feature in a hit 1990s Vanilla Ice rap, this grain tops the charts in other ways: it's the staple food for more than half the global population, and it's grown by more farmers than any other crop on Earth, from Japan to West Africa to Italy's Po River valley. Rice is so central that it's been used as currency, embedded itself in language, and formed the basis of beloved dishes, from sushi to jollof to risotto. But this adaptable grass has two features that have molded rice cultures and directed the grain's destiny: it can grow in an aquatic environment, but it requires cooperation to cultivate. In this episode, we explore how rice's relationship to water and community have shaped stories all over the world, from Japanese-American rice growers in California's drought-prone San Joaquin valley to Bangladeshi farmers facing flooding from climate change. Plus: could taking rice out of water not only build a better future for African-American rice farmers in the American South, but save the planet in the process? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

05 Dec 2023

51 MINS

51:47

05 Dec 2023


#218

Ask Gastropod: White Chocolate, Jimmies, Chile vs. Mustard Burns, and Asparagus Pee

Is white chocolate really chocolate? What causes asparagus pee? Sprinkles or jimmies—which do you call them, and is the term ‘jimmies’ racist? Why is the heat of mustard and wasabi so different from a chile burn? This episode, Gastropod is getting to the bottom of your most pressing questions—which also means diving into some of the internet’s most controversial food debates. Listen in now as we call in historians and scientists to bust myths, solve mysteries, and find out why some people turn asparagus into the devil’s own brew! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

21 Nov 2023

45 MINS

45:16

21 Nov 2023


#217

Pumpkin Spice Hero: The Thrilling But Tragic True Story of Nutmeg

No pumpkin spice latte, cookie, candle, or seasonal can of Spam (yes, really) would be the same without one of its key flavors: nutmeg, a warm, woody spice grated from the seed of a tropical fruit. But back in the 1600s, nutmeg wasn’t so common that you could put it in everything from coffee to soap. In fact, nutmeg once grew only in one place in the entire world: the Banda Islands, a Pacific archipelago too tiny to even appear on regular maps. To get their precious nutmeg, European sailors had to brave a three-year journey filled with the possibility of shipwreck, storms, scurvy, dysentery, starvation, and death—so it's not surprising that the spice was so valuable that the crew weren't allowed to have pockets in their clothing, in case they smuggled some ashore for themselves! But how did one heroic Brit, Nathaniel Courthope, end up changing the course of nutmeg history—and, with it, the fate of not just pumpkin spice lattes, but also the city of New York? Listen now for the spicy, swashbuckling tale behind the season's favorite flavor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

07 Nov 2023

41 MINS

41:58

07 Nov 2023


#216

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

Botanically, bean pods are indeed fruits, and, honestly, they are also pretty magical. And we’re clearly not the only ones to think that: beans are the unsung hero of history. The fact that they were domesticated an astonishing seven different times in different places around the world shows how essential beans were to early humans, wherever they lived; in Europe, Italian author and polymath Umberto Eco credits the bean with  [saving civilization] (https://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/18/magazine/best-invention-how-the-bean-saved-civilization.html)  itself. Lately, however, the humble bean has found its fan base declining. In Northern Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States, most people barely eat beans at all. This episode—our love song to beans—we're exploring the story of the bean's fall from grace, as well as the heirloom varieties and exclusive club that are making beans cool again. Plus, we visit with the Ugandan breeder working on Beans 2.0, which will take a third less time to cook. But can anybody do anything about one of beans' most notorious side-effects? Yes, we're talking farts: we're on the case to discover whether scientists can develop a gas-free bean. Listen in as we spill the beans on one of our favorite foods. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

24 Oct 2023

49 MINS

49:28

24 Oct 2023


#215

Raised and Glazed: Don’t Doubt the Doughnut

Doughnuts are ubiquitous in the United States: whether you're at party, a coffee shop, or the break room at work, you’re likely to find a box of iced rings covered with sprinkles. But some kind of deep-fried dough blob is a treat found in cultures around the world—so why have doughnuts become uniquely American? And what’s with the name, when there’s rarely a nut found in this dough? This episode, we're taking a roll around the story of these sweet circles, from their debut in Dutch New Amsterdam to the momentous origins of the doughnut hole. Listen in now, as we meet the Salvation Army volunteers who cemented the doughnut's popularity on the battlefields of both world wars, the Massachusetts middle-school dropout who created a doughnut empire, and the Cambodian-American Donut King of California. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

10 Oct 2023

48 MINS

48:25

10 Oct 2023


#214

We'd Like to Teach The World to Slurp: The Weird and Wonderful Story of Ramen's Rise to Glory

Savory, chewy, and, above all, slurp-able, a delicious bowl of ramen is one of the triumphs of Japanese cuisine. That's also a bit odd, because, for most of Japanese history, heavy, meaty, wheaty noodle soup would have had no place in the archipelago's otherwise bland and mostly pescatarian cuisine. This episode, we bust ramen myths and reveal ramen secrets, with the story of how Chinese influencers, U.S. food aid, and an economic boom built the quintessential Japanese soup—and how ramen was transformed from a quick street-food bite for workers to both the three-minute staple of students everywhere in its instant form and the craft ramen that has people standing in lines for hours. Plus: how ramen noodles helped prevent a prison riot, and Cynthia and Nicky go head-to-head in an epic (failure of a) slurp-off. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

26 Sep 2023

48 MINS

48:33

26 Sep 2023


#213

First Foods: Learning to Eat (encore)

How do we learn to eat? It may seem like an obvious question, but it's actually quite a complicated process. Who decided that mushed-up vegetables were the perfect first food—and has that always been the case? What makes us like some foods and hate others—and can we change? Join us to discover the back story behind the invention of baby food, as well as the latest science on flavor preferences and tips for how to transform dislikes into likes. (encore) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

19 Sep 2023

50 MINS

50:09

19 Sep 2023


#212

All Aboard the Tuna Rollercoaster! Join the King of Fish for a Wild Ride that Involves Ernest Heming...

A bluefin tuna can grow to the size of a car, weigh twice as much as a grand piano, swim as fast as a running lion, and keep its muscles at human body temperature even in the ocean's coldest depths. It's also wildly delicious, with a sweet, briny, but meaty taste and a melt-in-your mouth texture that has made it the most expensive fish in the world, with a single bluefin selling for a record-breaking $3 million in 2019. Not bad for a fish that, until recently, New England fishermen used to have to pay to dispose of. This episode, we've got the story of how the king of fish went from the coin of the realm in ancient Byzantium to cat food before bouncing back, in a tale that involves Alexander the Great, Ernest Hemingway, and a couple of Canadian coffin-makers. But popularity has proven a double-edged sword for the bluefin: in the past few decades, it's been fished almost to extinction, while also becoming the poster child for saving the oceans. These days there's big news in tuna world, and, for the first time in years, environmentalists and scientists have hope for the bluefin's future. So is it time to start ordering maguro again at the sushi bar? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

05 Sep 2023

45 MINS

45:39

05 Sep 2023


#211

The Keto Paradox: Fad Diet *and* Life-Saving Medical Treatment

What do some epilepsy patients have in common with tech bros, bodybuilders, and Joe Rogan? The high-fat, carb-shunning diet known as keto, whose history dates back much further than its 2010s rise to fame. In this episode, Gastropod traces how a medical treatment pioneered more than 2,500 years ago was refined in the 1920s to treat seizures. We trace its wild ride in and out of fashion, with cameos from Robert Atkins, the 80s exercise craze, and Meryl Streep. And, of course, we've got the myth-busting science on what ketosis and ketones really are, the dangers of eating this way to lose weight, and the reason this diet can be life-saving—for people with a very specific medical condition. Bust out the butter (but please don't put it in coffee) and join us down the keto rabbit hole. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

22 Aug 2023

43 MINS

43:15

22 Aug 2023


#210

Secrets of Sourdough (encore)

Today, you can find a huge variety of breads on supermarket shelves, only a few of which are called "sourdough." For most of human history, though, any bread that wasn't flat was sourdough—that is, it was leavened with a wild community of microbes. And yet we know surprisingly little about the microbes responsible for raising sourdough bread, not to mention making it more nutritious and delicious than bread made with commercial yeast. For starters, where do the fungi and bacteria in a sourdough starter come from? Are they in the water or the flour? Do they come from the baker's hands? Or perhaps they're just  [floating around in the foggy air] (http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/08/taste-test-the-best-sourdough-bread-in-san-fr.html) , as the bakers of San Francisco firmly believe? This episode, Cynthia and Nicky go to Belgium with two researchers, fifteen bakers, and quite a few microbes for a three-day science experiment designed to answer this question once and for all. Listen in for our exclusive scoop on the secrets of sourdough. (encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

08 Aug 2023

48 MINS

48:29

08 Aug 2023


#209

Watch It Wiggle: The Jell-O Story (encore)

It's been described as the ultimate status symbol for the wealthy, as the perfect solution for dieters and the sick, and, confusingly, as a liquid trapped in a solid that somehow remains fluid. What could this magical substance be? In case you haven't guessed, this episode, we're talking about Jell-O! Or, to be more precise, jelly—not the seedless kind you spread on toast, but the kind that shimmers on your plate, wiggles and jiggles on your spoon, and melts in your mouth. Jelly's story is as old as cooking itself—it is one that involves spectacular riches and dazzling displays, as well as California's poet laureate and some very curious chemistry. (encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

25 Jul 2023

49 MINS

49:06

25 Jul 2023


#208

Where's the Beef? Lab-Grown Meat is Finally on the Menu

Can we really have our burger, eat it—and never need to kill a cow? Growing meat outside of animals—in a lab or, these days, in shiny steel bioreactors—promises to deliver a future in which we can enjoy sausages and sushi without guilt, and maybe even without sending our planet up in smoke. For years, it's seemed like science fiction, but it's finally a reality: this month, Americans will get their first chance to buy cultivated meat in a restaurant. But how exactly do you get chicken nuggets, BLTs, and bluefin sashimi from a bunch of cells growing in large metal vats? Does this new cultivated meat taste any good? Can enough be grown to replace industrial meat? And, if so, is this new technology actually an improvement on industrial animal agriculture and fishing? Gastropod is on the case! Join us this episode as we sink our teeth into a whole lot of lab-grown lunches, uncover the science behind the sci-fi, and investigate whether the companies making cultivated meat can actually fulfill the lofty promises they make. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

11 Jul 2023

54 MINS

54:51

11 Jul 2023


#207

The Incredible Egg (encore)

We love eggs scrambled, fried, or poached; we couldn't enjoy a quiche, meringue, or flan without them. But for scientists and archaeologists, these perfect packages are a source of both wonder and curiosity. Why do eggs come in such a spectacular variety of colors, shapes, and sizes? Why are we stuck mostly eating chicken eggs, when our ancestors feasted on emu, ostrich, and guillemot eggs? This episode, we explore the science and history of eggs, from dinosaurs to double-yolkers! (encore episode) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

27 Jun 2023

44 MINS

44:56

27 Jun 2023


#206

Good Shit: How Humanure Could Save Agriculture—and the Planet

For most of us, when we sit on the porcelain throne to drop the deuce, priority number one is flushing and never having to think about it again. But it might be time to rethink our stink: all around the world, people are talking about using human waste for good, applying it as fertilizer to grow our food instead of just washing it down the miles of pipes that undergird urban sewage systems. "Ew" is a common response, along with "yuck!" Is using poop to grow food a good idea—or even safe? We’re getting our shit together to find out! On this episode of Gastropod, how human waste went from being so valuable you could go to jail for stealing it, to causing such a stench it shut down Parliament in Victorian London and led to the invention of the modern sewage system—and why figuring out how to start saving our poop (and pee!) once again could give us cleaner energy, healthier waterways, and lots of delicious food. Listen in now: if you like to eat, it's time to start giving a crap about your crap. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

20 Jun 2023

51 MINS

51:03

20 Jun 2023


#205

Gettin' Fizzy With It (Encore)

'Tis the season for a refreshing glass of bubbly—but this episode we're not talking wine, we're talking seltzer. America is in the throes of a serious seltzer craze, with consumption of the bubbly stuff doubling in only a decade, from 2004 to 2014. But where does seltzer come from, and why is it called "seltzer," rather than simply "sparkling water"? Is there any truth to the rumors that seltzer can combat indigestion—or that it will rot our teeth? Why are all the hipsters crushing cans of LaCroix, and what's the story behind Polar's ephemeral sensation, Unicorn Kisses? (Encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

13 Jun 2023

40 MINS

40:35

13 Jun 2023


#204

Who's Eating Who: Pineapples and You

What was the hottest accessory for late 1600s European dining rooms? The pineapple! Explorers had recently brought this spiky tropical fruit over from the Americas, and in short order it became the Gucci purse of its day—so exciting and desirable that it not only commanded big bucks, but led to a sort of gardening arms race to figure out how they might be grown in chilly northern Europe. In this episode, we get to the core of how this "king of fruit" inspired obsession and invention—plus, we head back to Hawai'i to learn how it transformed the islands, and, in the process, was itself transformed from an exotic rarity to a pantry-staple topping for pizza and cottage cheese. If you like piña coladas and fruits that can dissolve your skin, join us for all of the juicy details! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

06 Jun 2023

39 MINS

39:39

06 Jun 2023


#203

You've Lost That Hungry Feeling

Whether it's via TikTok or the morning news, you’ve probably heard the recent hype (and hand-wringing) about new prescription weight-loss medications with names like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro. These drugs were originally developed to treat diabetes, but, in some patients, they've had a surprising side effect: they seem to silence feelings of hunger, leading to significant weight loss. This episode, Gastropod goes behind the headlines to ask: What is hunger, anyway? And what do we know about how to switch it on or off? Join us for a story that involves lizard saliva, synthesizer shopping, and a disorder that can lead people to eat until their stomachs burst, as we explore these universal feelings—hunger and fullness—that shape our lives, and bookend every meal. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

23 May 2023

55 MINS

55:22

23 May 2023


#202

Fish & Chips: Uncovering the Forgotten Jewish and Belgian Origins of the Iconic British Dish

Fish & chips: a golden hunk of battered cod, accompanied by thick-cut French fries, lightly sprinkled with malt vinegar, and wrapped up in a newspaper.... It's as British as cricket, cream teas, the class system, and colonialism, but it's actually the relatively recent marriage of a Jewish fish-frying tradition and a Franco-Belgian potato snack. What's more, in something of a twist, the fish itself—cod, a burly bottom-feeder with tender, flaky white flesh—ended up helping fuel U.S. independence. This episode, we're telling the peculiar story of how two non-British foods became such a quintessentially British dish—and how our appetites transformed international relations, as well as an entire ocean ecosystem. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

09 May 2023

44 MINS

44:28

09 May 2023


#201

What Connects Bones, Bird Poop, and Toxic Green Slime? Hint: Without It, Half of Us Wouldn't Be Aliv...

It’s the 13th element on the periodic table, it glows in the dark, and it spontaneously combusts if it gets any hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit; little surprise, then, that phosphorus is known as “the devil’s element.” But this satanic substance is also essential to all life on earth, which is why it's a key ingredient in fertilizer—without which, researchers estimate, we could only grow enough food for half as many humans as are alive today. The incredible crop-growing powers of phosphorus have led humans to do some pretty extreme things to get it—from seizing Pacific islands to scavenging bones from Europe’s most famous battlefields—but they’ve also created a devilish paradox. The world is running out of phosphorus, and yet there’s way too much of it running off farm fields into rivers, lakes, and oceans, where it fuels toxic algae blooms. This episode, we've got the story behind the phosphorus paradox, as we ask: is there any way to fertilize the planet without sending it to hell? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

25 Apr 2023

46 MINS

46:18

25 Apr 2023