Advertise on podcast: Gastropod

2870 reviews
This podcast has
179 episodes
Date created
Average duration
50 min.
Release period
14 days


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, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at

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Podcast episodes

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The Milk of Life
No matter what your diet’s like today, we all likely started life eating the same thing: breast milk, formula milk, or a bit of both. But both of these products aren’t always easy to come by. Breastfeeding can be difficult or impossible for some parents, and formula milk isn’t always safe, affordable, or even available — as we’re seeing in the US, where formula milk is currently 70 percent out-of-stock. This episode, we tell the story of how we got here, and we explore what we should we do to make feeding babies easier in the future. Along the way, we find out what makes human milk—or "white blood," as it perhaps should be known—so unique, as well as why Parisian attitudes to feeding infants in the 1800s made it known as a city with no children. We've also got the story of when formula was first invented, the dirty tricks used to market it, and the competing pressures and changing advice that have swung the pendulum from "breast is best" to formula and back again. Listen in for the story behind the news, the tale of our first and most essential food. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Poultry Power: The Fried Chicken Chronicles (encore)
Juicy, crispy, crunchy...fried chicken is undoubtedly delicious. But it's also complicated, in ways that go far deeper than the science behind that perfect crust. From slavery to entrepreneurship and from yard fowl to Gospel bird, the story of fried chicken is filled with challenging contradictions. Grab a drumstick and listen in. (Encore presentation.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Guest episode: Montréal by Not Lost
Gastropod is excited to present this guest episode of Not Lost, called Montréal: Voyage Voyage. When both his popular culture podcast and long-term relationship come to an end, journalist Brendan Francis Newnam finds he has the time — and freedom — to pursue his dream: a travel podcast where he goes places and learns about them by getting invited to a stranger’s house for dinner. Not Lost is both a delightful travel escape and an insightful look at people — locals and visitors alike — trying to make sense of a constantly changing world. This episode, Brendan and his friend Danielle seek out the je ne sais quoi of the Québécois. Along the way, they learn about the Quiet Revolution, French-Canadian celebrity mags, and local pastries known as “nun’s farts.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Reinventing the Eel
Aristotle thought they were born out of mud. A young Sigmund Freud dedicated himself to finding their testicles (spoiler alert, he failed). And a legendary Danish marine biologist spent 18 years and his wife's fortune sailing around the Atlantic Ocean to find their birthplace. The creature that tormented all of these great thinkers? It was the eel, perhaps the most mysterious fish in the world—and one of the most expensive per pound. So why are tiny, transparent, worm-like baby eels worth so much? Why have eels remained so mysterious, despite scientists' best efforts? And how has one pioneering farmer in Maine started raising eels sustainably, despite the species' endangered status? All that this episode, plus a nighttime fishing trip, suitcases full of cash, and a compelling argument that when it comes to the American Thanksgiving dinner plate, we should consider ditching the turkey—and replacing it with eel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Monsanto or MonSatan? How—and Why—a St. Louis Startup Became a Hated Herbicide Giant
A chemical that kills the plants you don’t want—weeds—and keeps the plants you do—food!—seems kind of like magic. After all, weeds are the bane of farmers' lives, causing tens of billions of dollars in lost yield every year. So why is the world's largest herbicide company, Monsanto, so unpopular that it's been referred to as MonSatan? How harmful are today's herbicides for us humans, and for the environments they're seeping into? And do we need weedkillers to feed the world? In part two of our three-part series on weeds, we take on the big questions around this “bad seed” of the farming world—and the fascinating story behind the scrappy St. Louis startup that hooked the world on herbicides. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Way the Cookie Crumbles
If you’ve baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, enjoyed a nice cup of tea and biscuits, or somehow scarfed a sleeve of Oreos, you will know that cookies—or biscuits, as they were known for most of their existence, and still are in much of the Anglophone world—are one of humanity's greatest inventions. But you probably won't know that they started their illustrious career, more than four thousand years ago, as a kind of beer bouillon cube! This episode, we explore how this food of soldiers and sailors was transformed as it spread all over the world, fueling trade and empire, becoming the world's first industrial food, and shaping culture and language along the way. Featuring cookies as preventative medicine, the biscuit feud that followed the Oreo, and the true story of where the chocolate chip cookie really came from—you'll want to pour yourself a nice tall glass of milk for this one! Or, you know, put on the kettle for a cuppa... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Black Gold: The Future of Food...We Throw Away
For a few weeks in 1987, trash was temporarily headline news: a barge filled with waste that would no longer fit in New York City's overflowing landfills spent months wandering up and down the East Coast with nowhere to dump its smelly, rotting cargo. The trash barge's travels triggered a long overdue public rethink of the wisdom of sending all of our waste to landfills—including food. But fast forward more than thirty years, and food still takes up more space in American landfills than anything else. About 30 to 40 percent of food produced in the US gets thrown away, rather than eaten. What's more, putting all that rotting food inside landfills produces a lot of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Our ancestors knew exactly what to do with food waste; the earliest descriptions of composting were written on clay tablets more than 4,000 years ago. So why didn't the GarBarge kick off a composting craze? And why is it so hard for us to keep food waste out of landfills? This episode, Gastropod visits the future of food waste: the high-tech facilities as well as the innovative policies that promise to keep our discarded food out of landfills, keep methane from escaping into the atmosphere, *and* turn those food scraps into something useful. Can a state the size of California really keep 75 percent of its food waste out of landfills, as it has pledged to do by 2025—and what will happen if it does? Listen in for compost blow-dryers, fruit-sticker bingo, and a lot of microbes! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Gum's the Word: A Sticky Story
It’s sticky, it’s breath-freshening, and, according to the FDA, it’s technically food—this episode, we’re chewing on the science and history of gum! As it turns out, humans have been harvesting rubbery things to chew just for the chomp of it for thousands of years. But why? We're joined by anthropologists, archaeologists, gum scientists, and etiquette experts on our journey from the ancient birch tar-chewers of Scandinavia to the invention of modern-day, many-flavored bubblegum. How did an exiled Mexican president, a desperate Staten Island inventor, and a soap-selling runaway help gum go from something the Aztecs thought was only fit for children, the elderly, and prostitutes to a multi-billion dollar industry? Why did one country decide to ban gum altogether? And, with its popularity waning, is the gum-chewing bubble about to burst? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Déjà-Brew: How Coffee Got Bad, Then Worse, and, Finally, Good Again
If you hopped in a time machine for a cup of coffee from a 17th-century London coffeehouse, you would probably be a bit disappointed by their stale, bitter brews. We told you the story of how coffee jumped from its native soil in Africa to achieve near-world domination in Grounds for Revolution, the first episode in our two-part series. This episode, tune in for the story behind how new technologies, over-the-top advertising, and a forgotten female coffee visionary helped coffee go from bad, to a little better, to downright terrible, before reaching today’s Nirvana of coffee choice and quality. After all, why is a recipe with just two ingredients so hard to get just right? For the answer, we explore the science of coffee brewing, roasting, and flavor, and meet the people who shaped humanity’s pursuit of the perfect cup. All that plus Frank Sinatra, unicorn Frappuccinos, and a whole latte more in our fresh-brewed episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Grounds for Revolution: the Stimulating Story of How Coffee Shaped the World
About 400 years ago, a dark and mysterious stranger arrived in Europe and sent the jitters—really, shock waves—through society. That newcomer was the coffee bean, and it's hard to overstate its effects on the world. From its early days as a religious aid to its pivotal role in the founding of the London Stock Exchange, the first scientific society, and even one of the earliest forms of social media, this bitter brown beverage has democratized culture and sparked innovation, all while fueling capitalism and inequality. With the help of Gastropod's own founding godfather, Michael Pollan, as well as a crew of all-star historians, coffee growers, botanists, and coffee scientists, this episode we're telling the story of how coffee has changed everything it touched, from the humble workday to the fate of nations. This is the first of a two-part series on coffee, sponsored by Nespresso: listen now, and then come back in two weeks for the scientific secrets behind the perfect cup. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Fortune Cookie Quest
No dish of General Tso's, chow mein, or beef and broccoli is complete without a fortune cookie at the end. In fact, factories churn out an estimated *three billion* of these folded confections every year, mostly for the U.S. market. So how did fortune cookies become not just a quintessential part of Chinese takeout, but also an American cultural icon? This episode, we crack open the history of the fortune cookie to get at the conflicted origins—or, at the very least, the winning lottery numbers—hidden within. With the help of author Jennifer 8 Lee, we trace the origin of this oracular cookie back in time: from a court case pitting one set of cookie pioneers in San Francisco against their Angeleno rivals, all the way to the tiny town that may have started it all...a town that's (gasp!) not even in China! Your fortune today: listen carefully, and all will be revealed.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Guest Episode: Graveyard Cookies and Dollhouse Crimes
Gastropod is excited to present this guest episode—actually, two episodes—from the podcast Atlas Oscura: one all about the Spritz Cookie Gravestone and the other on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deaths. Atlas Obscura is a daily celebration of the world’s most wondrous, unexpected, even strange places, from the largest organism on the planet to the world’s only museum dedicated entirely to microbes. Listen in now for a deliciously unexpected combination of recipes and graves, as well as to hear how a set of exquisite dollhouses in Baltimore, Md. shaped the field of criminal forensics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Podcast Reviews

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4.7 out of 5
2870 reviews
Elephant Pansy Sunshine 2022/06/18
If you love food… you will love this podcast!
This podcast is such a delight to listen to! I love learning more about the foods I enjoy and was especially pleased to hear the coffee episodes!
Cherie B 2022/06/12
My favorite podcast
This content is wonderful and smart & funny !
Ethanos5610 2022/05/04
Food Theory Got There First
MatPat did a video on the Oreo cookie ripping off the Hydrox cookie. I still love you, but I just wanted you to know he posted it two years ago
OpheliaButton 2022/05/12
Very bizarre speech patterns.
I thought the description sounded intriguing and was looking forward to this podcast, but one of the hosts speaks with very strange and jarring vocal ...
Russ the plant scientist 2022/05/04
Monsanto episode
Overall I enjoyed this podcast but this episode was so terribly biased that I now have to be overtly skeptical to everything they present. I’m sure th...
xoxoitslizxoxo 2022/04/06
I found this podcast in December 2021 and I have already listened to 93% of the episodes. I have ADHD so putting the speed on 1.25x is absolutely perf...
1977ajdalo 2022/04/06
Love it
In the mddldle of the night with insomnia this is myfavorite show. Engaging but not heavy or political.
MDlistener123 2022/02/22
Fantastic podcast; great for the whole family
It’s not a kids podcast (thank god), but one that the whole family can enjoy and appreciate. Really a great podcast! Such interesting stuff, and who d...
Doomker 2022/02/24
I’ve subscribed to this podcast for a while now because there always seems to be a good topic chosen, then I get to listening and I am always sent on ...
AllieFlowers 2022/02/02
New Favorite Show
I am delighted to have happened across GastroPod. I have been binging episodes and excitedly teaching members of my family all kinds of new and inter...


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