Like many people I turn to podcasts to pass the time on my commute, and one that’s kept me company for many hours now is Gastropod, an independent podcast that marries food, science and history in an entertaining and informative listen that inevitably makes me hungry. Written, produced and hosted by award-winning journalists and foodies Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, each of their twice-monthly, hour-long instalments is thoroughly researched, tightly edited and humorously presented while not shying away from the social and political implications of our modern culture of eating. Not just limited to histories of various foodstuffs, the podcast also explores topics like what breakfast looks like around the world, how our modern diet has shaped the human overbite, what kind of metal cutlery makes food taste best and historical figures who travelled the world to collect and introduce new foods to North America. My favourite episodes are when Cynthia and Nicky get hands-on, such as when they tested their own home-grown kombucha in a lab to see its microbiome, baked spotted dicks with contestants from The Great British Bake-Off, and tasted mango varieties that I am still dreaming about. A recent episode explored foods that have undergone “culinary extinction,” meaning that humans have eaten these foods out of existence, while another investigated how the restaurant menu manipulates diners. I nearly always end up craving whatever food is the topic of the latest episode, which has led to a personal rule of always allowing myself to indulge that craving, meaning that on more than one occasion I did not make it home from work, or even make it through the episode, without first stopping to see if my local grocer was carrying any unusual varieties of mango or purchasing a box of lime jello to make the second I get home. I'm not much of a foodie myself, so Gastropod has helped me better appreciate how food gets to my table and understand the cultural context of what I’m eating.

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Kelsea O’Connor is contributing editor to Geist. She lives in New Westminster.


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