Gastropod | Top Science Podcasts 2021

The top science podcasts of 2021 updated daily.

Gastropod
Gastropod looks at food through the lens of science and history. Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode every two weeks.
Hot Tips
2021-02-16 11:28:51
If you live in the United States, you're familiar with a curious mathematical ritual that takes place at the end of every restaurant meal–it's time to tip, with all the stress the process entails. How much should you leave? Who's getting that money? Is it enough? (And will you look like an idiot if you start counting on your fingers?) Unlike many other countries, where people tip by rounding up to the nearest ringgit or krona–or don't even tip at all–it's become standard in the U.S. to leave an extra 20 percent of the bill's total for your server. But how did we get here? How did tipping, a practice with roots in feudal Europe, become so ubiquitous in the United States while nearly disappearing from its home continent? And what does the abolition of slavery in the U.S.–and Herman Cain–have to do with the sub-minimum tipped wage of $2.13 today? Is tipping fair–and is there anything we can do about it? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

50 minutes, 31 seconds
TV Dinners
2021-02-02 16:43:08
Cue the dramatic music, it's quiz time: Can you identify the people behind these catchphrases? "Yum-O!" "Pukka!" "Bam!" "Peace, love, and taco grease!" The answers are below–but if you've already caught on, then you're well aware of how entrenched TV chefs are in mainstream pop culture. But how did a medium where you can't actually smell or taste the food get so popular? What was the very first food TV show, and how has food TV changed–and changed us? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

48 minutes, 26 seconds
The Brightest Bulb
2020-12-22 13:36:00
Imagine, for a moment, a world without garlic: garlic-free garlic bread, tzatziki sans Allium sativum, a chili crisp defanged. If this sounds like the makings of a horror story to you, you're not alone. Garlic consumption in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1980, and people around the world have been enjoying the stuff for thousands of years. But alliums smell like sulfur, and sulfur is something humans are born *not* liking–so why did we start adding garlic, onions, and their kin to our food? This episode, we join microbiologist Rob Dunn and food safety specialist Ben Chapman to follow along as they conduct the world's first experiment designed to figure out whether alliums started out as a food safety additive designed to keep our lamb stew safe for longer, and only later turned into a flavor we crave. Plus, why did the British government send garlic to the trenches in WWI? What do fetal sniffing, Egyptian fertility tests, Korean mythology, and the world's first-recorded labor strike have to do with the stinking rose? Listen in now for all this and more! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

46 minutes, 52 seconds
Like Water in the Desert
2020-12-08 14:09:37
Over the past century, we've transformed the arid lands of the American west into year-round, well-irrigated agricultural powerhouses. Today, fruits, nuts, and nearly all of our leafy greens are grown in the desert, using water diverted, stored, and supplied at taxpayer expense. This intense irrigation is having an impact: Reservoir levels are dropping, rivers are drying up, and the state of Arizona is literally sinking. With the help of agroecologist Gary Nabhan, farmers Ramona and Terry Button, and others in the region, we ask the big questions: Should we be farming in the desert? What would a water-saving system even look like? And does a tiny bean that smells like desert rain hold the secret to survival in a hotter, drier world? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

49 minutes, 52 seconds
The Magic Cube
2020-11-24 12:05:00
You could call it the Swiss Army knife of the kitchen: bouillon is a handy ingredient, whether it comes as bottled brown gloop, or a cube wrapped up in shiny foil like a tiny present. Today, cooks around the world rely on this secret ingredient to add depth, flavor, and umami to their cooking. It wasn't always so; like many of today's packaged shortcuts, condensed bouillon got its start in the 1800s, when nutrition science was just taking off. How did the (mistaken) discoveries of a German chemist pave the way for these umami bombs–and what is umami anyway? How did bouillon brands like Maggi and Knorr become part of national dishes as far afield as Nigeria, India, and Mexico? And how did the invention of these early "essences of meat" lead to the creation of the love-it-or-hate-it spreads Marmite and Vegemite? Listen in now for all that, plus a matriarchal subterranean master race with electrical superpowers! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

45 minutes, 45 seconds
The Big Apple Episode
2020-11-10 14:24:42
There's nothing more American than apple pie–or is there? We might prescribe an apple a day and call our largest city the Big Apple, but this legendary fruit originally hails from the mountains of Kazakhstan. This episode, Michael Pollan (something of a legend himself) tells us how apples become so important on the American frontier, and what cider (the alcoholic kind) had to do with it. We talk to apple fan Amy Traverso and apple detective Dan Bussey to figure out how many thousands of apple varieties used to grow in America, and why are there only a handful–including the notorious Red Delicious, which, while red, is far from delicious–in supermarkets today? All that, plus we get out in the orchard with Soham Bhatt to learn about the cider renaissance that's sweeping the nation. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

53 minutes, 2 seconds
The Hangover: Part Gastropod
2020-10-27 11:23:37
Morning fog. Gallon-distemper. Busthead. These are all names for alcohol's age-old after-party: the hangover. But, aside from being a physical (and painful) manifestation of regret, what exactly is a hangover? What's happening in our bodies–and specifically in our livers–and can science do anything about it? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

41 minutes, 5
Snack Attack!
2020-10-13 16:05:00
To snack or not to snack? And what counts as a snack, anyhow? Plus the great meal vs. snack smackdown: is grazing good, or does eating between meals lead to waistline expansion? We're asking deep questions about not-so-substantial foods in this crispy, crunchy, and highly craveable episode. Along the way, we uncover snacking's early connections to pirate's booty, reveal which of your favorite snacks started their lives as cattle feed, and tell the shocking, true story of the woman who never snacks. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

47 minutes, 17 seconds
This Spud's For You
2020-09-29 14:05:52
Fried, roasted, mashed, steamed: it's hard to imagine life without the crispy, fluffy comfort blanket of potatoes. But until the late 1500s, no one outside the Americas had ever encountered this terrific tuber, and initially Europeans, particularly peasant farmers, didn't trust it at all. Or did they? This episode, we tell the story of the potato's rise to global dominance once it set sail from its native Andean home–and the stories behind that story! From tax evasion and population explosions to soup kitchens and potato bling, listen in now as Rebecca Earle, author of the new book, Feeding the People, helps us uncover the delightful myths and even more incredible true history of the spud. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38 minutes, 52 seconds
Moo-Dunnit: How Beef Replaced Bison on the American Plains–and Plate
2020-09-15 11:57:00
Saddle up, folks: Today's episode involves the cowboys' lullabies and meat riots that helped make beef an American birthright. With the help of Joshua Specht, author of Red Meat Republic, we tell the story of how and why the 30 million bison that roamed the Plains were replaced with 30 million cows. You'll never look at a Porterhouse steak–the first cut of beef invented in America–the same way again. See omnystudio.com/policies/listener for privacy information.

41 minutes, 12 seconds
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