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 Aug 2, 2018


Bite is a podcast for people who think hard about their food. Join acclaimed food and farming blogger Tom Philpott, Mother Jones editors Kiera Butler and Maddie Oatman, and a tantalizing guest list of writers, farmers, scientists, and chefs as they uncover the surprising stories behind what ends up on your plate. We'll help you digest the food news du jour, explore the politics and science of what you eat and why—and deliver plenty of tasty tidbits along the way.

Episode Date
64 – Finding Salvation in Salad

A few years ago, Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III, the pastor of Baltimore’s historically African-American Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, noticed a problem in his congregation: Many of the members were suffering from diet-related diseases. Brown knew that his community needed healthier food, but fresh produce was too expensive. “I had what some would call a divine discontent,” he recalls. “I was so frustrated with that dynamic of seeing the food that we needed and not being able to afford it.” On today’s episode, you’ll hear how his devotion to “greens, beets, and tomatoes” transformed his church. Then we find out what Filipina-American chef Aileen Suzara discovered in her attic—and how it changed her life.

Aug 10, 2018
63 – Farmers Are Growing Squash That Actually Taste Good

Do you find the taste of squash bland? That could be because most seed companies today breed their plants to withstand the chemicals that farmers routinely apply to their crops. But Chef Dan Barber believes that seed breeding can do so many more interesting things. And he thinks chefs and breeders should be teaming up to work on, for example, a honey nut squash that doesn’t even need maple syrup and butter. Plus: The Bite hosts say goodbye to beloved food critic Jonathan Gold.

Jul 27, 2018
62 – Just Give People Money

On this episode, economics writer Annie Lowrey argues that the government should give people a monthly stipend. Not something you have to jump through hoops to qualify for—rather, if you have a heartbeat, you get cold, hard cash. A universal basic income, of, say, $1000 per month for every American adult could go a long way toward reducing the toll of food insecurity, Lowrey saysThen, we’ll hear from people in a neighborhood who are arguing about whether a different group should get handouts. That group is very vocal and very entitled. They’re chickens.

Jul 13, 2018
61 – Comic W. Kamau Bell on Getting Coffee While Black

Not so long ago, comedian W. Kamau Bell was asked to leave a Berkeley cafe in what he called a case of “textbook racism.” On this episode of Bite, Bell talks to Mother Jones reporter Brandon E. Patterson about that incident, Starbucks’ controversial racial bias trainings, and more. Then, Maddie visits the kitchen of a refugee woman who fled Iraq for California five years ago. Today, she’s cooking at some of the world’s hottest restaurants. Warning: This interview may trigger intense shawarma cravings!

Jun 29, 2018
60 – (Not) Eating Animals

This episode is all about giving up meat. As novelist Jonathan Safron Foer prepared to become a father, he became increasingly irked by a question: How would he justify eating meat to his kids? The question morphed into a bestselling book, Eating Animals, which became a documentary, premiering June 15. Jonathan shares more about his reasons for going veggie, and reflects on talking about food choices in the age of Trump. Then we hear from the Vegan Bros, two all-American dudes who gave up hunting and fishing for plant-based diets. The hosts share their favorite vegetarian cookbooks. And we ask you to tell us why you became a vegetarian or vegan—even if it didn't stick. (Go to

Jun 15, 2018
59 – Bonus: Alice Waters

In late April, Tom Philpott sat down with Alice Waters and Jonathan Kauffman at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California. Some have described Alice Waters as “the most important figure in the culinary history of North America.” Her new book, “Coming to my Senses,” is a juicy memoir about her life up to the opening of her historic restaurant Chez Panisse. San Francisco Chronicle food writer Jonathan Kauffman is the author of “Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat.” Alice and Jonathan duke it out over the ongoing influence of hippie food.

Jun 08, 2018
58 – How to Grow Your Own Cocktail

Spring is in full swing, so we bring you treats from the garden. Writer and botanist Amy Stewart shares fascinating facts about plants—from the deadly (she once had a poisonous plants garden) to the delicious (she’s since replaced it with a cocktail garden). And Ron Finley explains what it means to be a “gangster gardener.”

May 31, 2018
57 - Bonus: Introducing The Mother Jones Podcast

Bite is proud to present this special bonus show—the first episode of The Mother Jones Podcast. Our colleagues have been busy putting together a show packed with our brand of original, no-holds-barred reporting. Do us a favor and find it on your favorite podcast app, and subscribe!

In the debut episode, Senior Reporter Tim Murphy profiles the candidates ripping up West Virginia’s political blueprint and asks what their successes and failures mean for national politics come November. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams just enjoyed a spectacular, history-making victory to become the first black woman to ever to win a major party’s gubernatorial nomination, but her toughest battle is ahead: Can this national political darling beat a well-funded Republican, in a deep-red state, to break another glass ceiling and become the first female black governor in America? Then it’s time for resident Russia guru David Corn to make the extraordinarily complicated Mueller investigation understandable. We’ll also chat to David Beard, the author of our weekly Recharge newsletter, giving you a jolt of good news.

May 25, 2018
56 – What the Rajneeshee Cult Was Cooking Up

The new Netflix documentary “Wild, Wild Country” delves into the strange world of the Rajneeshees, a religious group that moved to Oregon in the 1980s and clashed with local townspeople. The documentary reveals plenty about those tensions, but left us hungry for more detail about everyday life at the Rajneeshee Ranch. Writer Melissa Locker tells us about the group’s cookbook, Zorba the Buddha. Then Maddie talks to chef and restaurant owner Tanya Holland about the challenges of opening a restaurant as a black woman. Bonus: Tanya plays Gross or Tasty—drawing from her time as a judge on Iron Chef.

May 18, 2018
55 – This Is the Best Kind of Milk

In this episode of Bite, we dive deep into the contentious topic of fake milk with the great Plant-Based Milk Showdown of 2018. And Tom tells us how a particular kind of alterna-milk could restore America’s farmland. Then, in honor of Mother’s Day, we talk to Aimee Lee Ball, the journalist behind the website Eat, Darling, Eat, where she collects stories about a very potent mix of topics: mothers, daughters, and food.

May 04, 2018
54 – Did Drinking Give Me Cancer?

Mother Jones Senior Reporter Stephanie Mencimer just wrote a blockbuster story that weaves together her own breast cancer diagnosis and the disturbing history of the alcohol industry downplaying the link between booze and cancer. She joins us to talk about her drinking history and how the industry courts women. Then, New York Times op-ed writer Liz Tracy reflects on what it’s like to be a sober mom in a parenting culture that’s obsessed with wine. Finally, MoJo's Becca Andrews caught up with Planned Parenthood’s outgoing CEO Cecile Richards about her new memoir and the recipes that have fueled her career. Bonus: Cecile reveals her secrets to baking the best cherry pie.

Apr 20, 2018
53 – When Sexual Harassment Is on the Menu

On this very special episode of Bite, we talk about how sexual harassment scandals have rocked the restaurant industry—and what to do about it. We hear from two journalists—the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tara Duggan and the New York Times’ Kim Severson—about their reporting on how powerful men in acclaimed kitchens abused their power. And San Francisco restaurateur Karen Leibowitz tells us how she’s trying to stop harassment in her kitchen before it begins. Plus, we hear from you, our listeners, on your experiences with incidents at your local eateries.

Apr 06, 2018
52 – This Is Your Dinner on Weed

California recently legalized marijuana for recreational use, and gourmet chefs have pounced. Maddie takes you to a high-end edibles dinner, where fancy appetizers are infused with cannabis. Then Mother Jones fellow Jackie Mogensen talks all things edibles with the San Francisco Chronicle’s David Downs, one of the few cannabis news editors in the country. “You bet FritoLay is going to get in this space,” Downs said—“they recognize the writing on the wall.”

Mar 23, 2018
51 – You Thought You Knew Spam. You Knew Nothing.

Every year, Spam enthusiasts take over the town of Isleton, California. Mother Jones senior editor Dave Gilson attended, and his audio postcard contains many treats, including but not limited to Spam cheesecake. Then: What if food prices depended on your skin pigment? Chef Tunde Wey just ran a fascinating and provocative experiment about that, and Kiera caught up with him to hear about the results. Finally, Tom talks to Maine congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who might be the only congressperson in history to own an organic farm and run a restaurant.

Mar 09, 2018
50 – The Year's Best Movies Are Secretly About Food

Seen any good food flicks lately? If you’ve watched some of 2017’s most critically acclaimed films, you probably have. This week, Tom talks to New Yorker food correspondent Helen Rosner about the food themes running through Phantom ThreadThe Shape of Water, and Call Me By Your Name. Another film up for an Oscar this year is Knife Skills, a documentary short about an ambitious effort to create the best French restaurant in the country and help former felons find work. Podcast fellow Ashley Dejean talked to the film’s director, and then she heard from one of the restaurant’s chefs about what it was like to go from serving time to serving frog legs.

Feb 23, 2018
49 – It Shouldn't Be This Hard to Get an Ethical Cup of Coffee

On today’s episode, you’ll hear about the incredible lengths one man went to in his attempt to bring coffee from Yemen back into the world. Maddie interviews acclaimed writer Dave Eggers and coffee importer Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the subject of Eggers' new book, The Monk of Mokha. Then, Tom talks to historian Adrian Miller about the hidden history of African American chefs in the White House.

Feb 09, 2018
48 – This Science Will Make You Feel Better About What You Eat

Have you ever wondered why some foods make you feel more full than others? Or why when you’re stressed out you turn to your mom’s mac and cheese recipe? Our guest Rachel Herz is a psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist who studies why we eat what we eat. Kiera talks to her about how your culture influences your cravings, and why the outcome of the Super Bowl could make you eat healthier. Plus: Tom breaks down why the Farm Bill is actually interesting.

Jan 26, 2018
47 – Not Just Granola: How Hippies Reinvented American Cuisine

If you enjoy avocado toast and power bowls, thank a hippie. On this episode, Tom talks to Jonathan Kauffmann, whose new book is about how the 1960s counterculture gave way to some of today's most popular American dishes. Plus, Maddie talks to New York Times reporter Nellie Bowles about why some people are rejecting tap water in favor of pricey, untreated H20.

Jan 12, 2018
29 – This Simple Advice Completely Changed the Way I Eat

Writer and chef Samin Nosrat distills cooking into four basic elements: salt, fat, acid, heat. In this episode, she reveals secrets about using one of them to transform what you cook—and her advice changed how Maddie was tasting food for the days following. Maddie and Samin conduct a taste test, and Samin reveals how she clinched her first cooking job at Chez Panisse, and dishes on what it took to win over Alice Water. Plus, Tom reveals some of his own home cooking tricks. 

Dec 29, 2017
46 – Dinner and a Movie

Kiera interviews screenwriter Sri Rao, one of the few American-born people who’s worked on Bollywood films, and he’s learned a lot about bridging the two cultures along the way. He applies those insights in his new cookbook, title Bollywood Kitchen, which tells you how to make authentic Indian food and suggests the perfect Bollywood films to watch while enjoying it. Sri talks about the inspiration for the cookbook, which Bollywood stars he’d invite for a dinner party, and more. Plus, Maddie dishes on a new wave of pharmacies filling prescriptions for healthy food. 

Dec 15, 2017
45 – Restaurant Workers Say #MeToo

Sexual harassment is rampant in the food industry, as Tracie McMillan discovered when she worked undercover stints in California farm fields and at an Applebee’s in New York City for her classic 2012 book The American Way of Eating. Tracie tells Tom about her experiences with harassment, and worse, when working as a cook. Then we hear about one tweak to the restaurant industry that could help fix misogynistic workplace culture. (Warning: This episode includes material that might not be appropriate for kids.)

Dec 01, 2017
44 – When Dinner Gets Awkward

Ah, Thanksgiving: the holiday when American families give thanks while trying to politely ignore their glaring political differences and inhaling vast quantities of food. In this special episode, Jenny Luna attends a dinner party where the whole point is to have awkward conversations: A group called Make America Dinner Again pairs up folks on opposite sides of the political aisle to cook and eat a meal together—and the result is some refreshingly honest discussions. Then, Maddie talks to celebrated chef David Tanis about what to do with underappreciated winter vegetables like leeks and parsnips. Thanksgiving pro tips abound!

Nov 17, 2017
43 – Robin Sloan's Hilarious and Bizarre Food Novel

The Bite team interviews author Robin Sloan, author of the new novel Sourdough. When a gift of magical sourdough starter lands on the protagonist’s lap, she rolls up her sleeves and learns how to bake. Secretive, invite-only farmer’s markets and oblique cheese mongers soon enter the picture. Sloan, whose previous novel is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, peppers the brisk, entertaining story with plenty of food trend send-ups along the way. Maddie and Kiera talk with Sloan about all that and more on this very special live episode of Bite.  

Nov 03, 2017
42 – After Napa’s Inferno, “We’re Still Standing”

As fires continue to burn through wide swaths of wine country, Maddie heads to Napa to catch up with the cellar crew from Robert Sinskey winery and hear about their week from hell. Then Tom interviews renowned chef Dan Barber about how the biggest wasters in food aren't who you think.

Oct 20, 2017
41 – Do Farmers Still Love Trump?

Farmers voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in the last presidential election. But over the course of the past year, the conversation has shifted, says journalist Ted Genoways, author of the new book, This Blessed Earth. "Farmers are starting to realize the real threats this could pose to their livelihood." Ted also talks about what he learned following around one family from harvest to harvest for his book. And Kiera discovers what it’s like to consume nothing but pumpkin spice products for a whole week.

Oct 06, 2017
40 – She Packs Your Brussels Sprouts and Lives in Fear

Elena thought she had finally found freedom. She graduated high school and got a steady job in a vegetable factory. Then, in a matter of minutes, everything turned upside down. Mother Jones’ Becca Andrews brings us this story out of Tennessee. Then Top Chef Masters champ Traci Des Jardins tells us what she would have done with her knife skills if she hadn’t become a chef, and talks about the number one challenge facing new restaurants today.

Sep 22, 2017
39 – Songs That Make Food Taste Better

Whiskey ballads, tamale ditties, odes to cornbread: So many beloved musicians make food their central subject at some point. OC Weekly Editor Gustavo Arellano tells us about the evolution of corridos and rancheras, Mexican songs that are often dedicated to favorite foods or life in the fields. “Kind of like gangster rap,” Arellano explains, “corridos would tell you the stories of repressed communities". Then Jenny Luna tries whiskey that has been aged to the tune of Michael Jackson and Daft Punk. Plus: You sing us your favorite food song. And be sure to check out Bite Podcast’s Edible Playlist on Spotify:

Sep 08, 2017
38 – W. Kamau Bell and the Case of the Racist Skittles

Comedian W. Kamau Bell showed up at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Kentucky in 2014 fully expecting to face steely stares and racist comments. But when one of the masked Klansmen did approach Bell, it was to hand him iced tea and Skittles, the snacks Trayvon Martin purchased the night he was killed by George Zimmerman in 2012. On today’s episode, Bell tells us how he reacted to the overtly racist gesture—and about how certain foods can become cultural symbols. He also reveals the key to the most savory gumbo, and who would land an invite to his fantasy dinner party in this trying time in American history. Then: What happens to kids who can’t afford to pay for lunch at school? New Mexico Senator Michael Padilla talks about his crusade to end “school lunch shaming.”

Aug 25, 2017
37 – The Agony and Ecstasy of Eating 330 Hamburgers

Journalist Kevin Alexander discovered a lot about a city through its burgers. Last year, he ate hundreds of hamburgers across the United States in a quest to find the best one. On this episode, you'll go out to lunch with Kevin and Maddie as they taste the one burger that Kevin hasn't tried yet. Then, we talk to Paul Greenberg, a lifelong fisherman and bestselling author of the books "Four Fish" and "American Catch." Paul also tried an extreme diet for a year: Instead of land meats, he ate fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Spoiler alert: His friends are still speaking to him.

Aug 11, 2017
36 – Farmers Are Living Dangerously

What’s going to happen if I get hurt or sick? That’s what many people are asking themselves as the Trump administration attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. But a group you don't often hear from on this issue is farmers—and they are very worried about how they’ll be able to afford to take care of themselves. That’s bad news for the future of the nation’s farms—and eaters. On today’s episode, Politico food and agriculture reporter Helena Bottemiller Evich explains why. Then, Splendid Table podcast host Francis Lam gives Tom a brilliant idea for what to do with summer tomato surplus.

Jul 28, 2017
35 – We Watch “Game of Thrones” for the Food Porn

What do you serve wedding guests you’re about to murder? What’s a modern substitute for dog sausage? Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, co-author of A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook, has the answers. Plus, she’ll give you tips on what to cook for your season 7 dinner party. We also hear from an antique-cookbook collector about ancient Rome’s stinkiest recipe. Then Kiera interviews Michael Ruhlman, author of Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America, about what Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods means for the future of shopping.

Jul 14, 2017
34 – You Are What You Eat, Donald Trump

As President Donald Trump adapts to his new life as the most powerful leader in the country, his food choices have remained curiously stodgy. Steaks doused in ketchup, chocolate soufflé, wedges of iceberg lettuce served with creamy dressing: "He basically has the eating habits of someone who was spending lots of time and money in fine dining establishments in the early '80s and late '70s," says Slate political correspondent Jamelle Bouie, our first guest on this week’s episode. Bouie also reveals how he got into cooking as a broke college student, and has some tips on stretching out your food budget. Then Kiera talks to Civil Eats founder and editor-in-chief Naomi Starkman about how to stay optimistic in these “anxiety-producing” times. 

Jun 30, 2017
33 – Inside Silicon Valley's Race to the Best Fake Meat
Scientists and entrepreneurs have taken vegetables to a whole new level by devising futuristic proteins that may finally be tasty enough to convince carnivores. Jenny takes you on a tour of a few of these start-ups and their plans to scale up, and then heads inside a special college class aimed at making fake meat better. Then Kiera interviews Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist who has started recommending a plant-based diet to his patients.
Jun 16, 2017
32 – As a Fat Person, "I Felt Like I Always Had to Apologize for Myself"
Has anyone ever teased you about your size? On today’s episode, we talk all about fat shaming—and we hear from two amazing writers who try not to internalize all the messages about the importance of being skinny. First up, writer Lindy West, author of the book Shrill and many pieces about body image, including one for The Stranger called “Hello, I Am Fat.” Then Maddie interviews Samantha Irby, who writes the blog Bitches Gotta Eat, and has a hilarious new collection of essays called We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.
Jun 02, 2017
31 – Everything You Love About Food Means Nothing to This Guy
In this age of food porn, gourmet Instagram feeds, and restaurant pilgrimages, what’s it like if you’re just not that into food? On this week’s episode of Bite, Tom talks to Vox cofounder Dylan Matthews, the soylent-loving, cooking-averse political journalist who “eats to survive” and not for pleasure. Dylan also has a few hot food tips for non-foodies. Plus, the Bite crew reviews a fork made of French fries and a few other dumb new food inventions.
May 19, 2017
30 – Sex, Drugs, and Oysters: What It's Really Like to Work at a Fancy Restaurant
In Stephanie Danler’s novel Sweetbitter, it takes Tess, a 22-year-old waitress new to Manhattan, about three months to master the art of balancing three plates on one arm. In the same amount of time, Tess adapts to a life of champagne and cocaine-addled adventures. In this episode, Stephanie dishes about how her own experiences—working as a back-waiter, bartender, and restaurant manager in New York City—informed the novel. Plus: What’s your favorite comfort food in the age of Trump?
May 05, 2017
29 – This Simple Advice Completely Changed the Way I Eat
Writer and chef Samin Nosrat distills cooking into four basic elements: salt, fat, acid, heat. In this episode, she reveals secrets about using one of them to transform what you cook—and her advice changed how Maddie was tasting food for the days following. Maddie and Samin conduct a taste test, and Samin reveals how she clinched her first cooking job at Chez Panisse, and dishes on what it took to win over Alice Water. Plus, Tom reveals some of his own home cooking tricks.
Apr 21, 2017
28 – What a Cool New Podcast About Shipping Can Teach You About Coffee
That cuppa joe you just sipped? Its long journey to your cup was made possible by shipping containers—those rectangular metal boxes that carry everything from TVs to clothes to frozen shrimp. And there’s a whole host of characters whose lives revolve around this precious cargo: gruff captains, hearty cooks, perceptive coffee tasters, and competitive tugboat pilots. This is the world journalist Alexis Madrigal illuminates in his new podcast Containers. Alexis tells us how the fancy coffee revolution is shaking up the shipping industry, and reveals his favorite sailor snack. Bite celebrates its first birthday, and Kiera gets up-close-and-personal with a kitchen contraption that’s sweeping the nation: the InstantPot.
Apr 07, 2017
27 – The Bizarre, True-Crime Story of New England’s Seafood King
If you’ve ever eaten cod from New England, chances are you’ve helped build the empire of Carlos Rafael, the crime boss whose fishy business has earned him the nickname “The Codfather.” In this episode, Kiera interviews journalist Ben Goldfarb about his recent Mother Jones feature on the rise and fall of this larger-than-life character. Featured: FBI agents posing as the Russian mob, Rafael’s Machiavellian backstory, and the moody atmosphere of the Massachusetts fishing town of New Bedford. Plus, Tom talks to Ronni Lundy, the author of a groundbreaking cookbook on the cuisine of Appalachia.
Mar 24, 2017
26 - The Science of Why People Don’t Believe in Food Science
When Atlantic journalist and physician James Hamblin investigated the world of gluten-free products, he found a $23 billion industry of "detox courses," custom blood tests, and specially formulated foods—but no medical evidence that avoiding gluten is good for people who don't have celiac disease. Kiera interviews Hamblin, author of the new book If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body, about the gluten-free boondoggle, how multivitamins can make people less healthy, and more reasons why people are so susceptible to health quackery. Then we reveal a recipe for a delicious snack created by a pro-athlete-turned-pastry-chef—the “She Persisted Bar”—to give you fuel when you’re protesting.
Mar 10, 2017
25 – Is Your Favorite Restaurant Standing Up for Immigrants?
Tom and Maddie pay visits to owners of “sanctuary restaurants”—eateries that are standing up for their workers’ rights as the Trump administrations vows to crack down on illegal immigrants. Penny Baldado—who owns a café in Oakland, California, famous for its adobo sandwiches—is an immigrant herself; she’s originally from the Philippines. When she was undocumented, “I moved in the world with a lot of fear,” she tells Maddie. She now relishes the opportunity to offer both employees and customers a space where they don’t have to be afraid. Meanwhile, Tom catches up with the owner of another sanctuary restaurant, the Black Star Co-op in Austin, Texas. Plus: We talk to a friend of the podcast who, on a quest for the best grilled goat in Kenya, found out that climate change is bad news for this local delicacy.
Feb 24, 2017
24 - Somali Refugees Make Better Pancakes
Maddie pays a visit to a mother-daughter team of Somali chefs in Oakland, California. Before arriving in the United States, Halimo and Fatuma lived in the largest refugee camp in the world, in Kenya. There, they used UN rations to concoct Somali delicacies, including the paper-thin pancakes that they teach Maddie to make. Then, Tom talks with science writer Ed Yong about the trillions of bugs living inside our bodies, and why there’s no such thing as “good” and “bad” bacteria.
Feb 10, 2017
23 - Save the Chocolate
"Chocolate—ah, glorious chocolate,” says today’s guest Simran Sethi at the start of our interview. In her new book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Simran regards this beloved treat with a mix of reverence and concern. Chocolate is threatened, but there are ways to ensure its survival, Simran explains. Maddie examines another part of your dinner that’s under threat in the Bay Area, and Tom divulges how beer made advanced civilizations possible.
Jan 27, 2017
22 - You Don’t Get Fat For the Reasons You Think
Avoid potato chips. Watch less TV. Run more. Get surgery. You’ve heard dozens of reasons about why people get fat, and what they should do about it. But today’s guests have some theories about obesity that might not sound so familiar. Biochemist and author Sylvia Tara always had trouble staving off pounds—and then she learned about some truly surprising causes of weight gain. Journalist Gary Taubes thinks obesity can mostly be blamed on one single ingredient. And he thinks that another very popular theory about what leads to obesity is screwing over research into the condition.
Jan 13, 2017
21 – The Secret Lives of Chefs
Why do so many chefs get tattoos? That’s just one question we asked this week’s guests, journalist Isaac Fitzgerald and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, the duo behind the new book Knives and Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos. Also on this week’s episode, we talk with food writer Kat Kinsman about the epidemic rates of anxiety and depression among chefs—and why mental health is still a taboo subject in kitchens.
Dec 16, 2016
20 - 5 Cookbooks That Wowed Us in 2016
By all accounts, 2016 was a bleak year—except when it came to cookbooks. This year bore such a bumper crop of cookbooks that Bite host Tom Philpott had trouble choosing his favorites. After careful consideration, he’s come up with five that make perfect gifts for the home chefs in your life—including one that features a cuisine that you’re unlikely to find even in restaurants. Then, keeping on the book theme, Tom talks about the best books about food politics with author and food activist Anna Lappé.
Dec 02, 2016
19 - Top Chef's Tom Colicchio Talks Trump
A question that some people might be asking right now: How can you think about food at a time like this? But actually, food has everything to do with the election of Donald Trump: On this episode, Tom Philpott talks to Tom Colicchio of TV’s Top Chef, about how the mighty food industry is poised to stage a major resistance against some of Trump’s policies. One giant group of people who are wondering what’s in store for them over these next few years is restaurant workers, many of whom are undocumented. We hear from one of them, a waiter in New York City with a complicated immigration status. Also: Jenny talks to the formerly homeless manager of a kitchen at a single room occupancy building about why he voted for Trump.
Nov 18, 2016
18 – Eat Like a President
In this episode, we talk to Sam Kass, who served as the Obamas’ personal chef until early 2015. In addition to whipping up sweet potato fries and other family favorites, Kass directed the First Lady children's health effort Let’s Move!, and served as the senior White House adviser on nutrition policy. Kass tells us about how the Obama administration changed the way Americans eat, as well as his current project: making your fridge smarter. Also: A local bartender whipped up election-night cocktails especially for Bite: the Bad Hombre and the Nasty Woman. Cheers to that.
Nov 04, 2016
17 - Mark Bittman’s Recipe for the Next Presidency
Nearly every topic you can think of, and many you hoped wouldn’t, have surfaced during the 2016 presidential election. But there’s been almost zero talk by either candidate of the thing that fuels the country: our food system. On today’s episode, Mark Bittman dishes on how the next president might tackle food and agriculture. Bittman is most famous for the Minimalist recipe column he wrote for the New York Times and award-winning cookbooks like How to Cook Everything. He was also the only national newspaper columnist tapped with covering food politics and policy. Also: Tom gives you the low-down on how agribusinesses are spending their campaign money, and Maddie has the scoop on some cooking tips from WikiLeaks.
Oct 21, 2016
16 - What Fox News Missed in Chinatown
Manhattan's Chinatown recently made headlines for being the target of an offensive segment on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show. Fox missed the real story: the truly special place it occupies in the US food scene. Navigate the narrow, bustling sidewalks Mott Street between Canal and Hester and you'll see food everywhere, from live frogs to whole dragon fruit. What makes culinary Chinatown tick? For answers, we turn on this week's Bite podcast to Valerie Imbruce, author of the new book From Farm to Canal Street. Imbruce argues that Manahttan's Chinatown is a remnant of pre-supermarket New York—and also a viable model for a more tantalizing food future. We also went to San Francisco’s Chinatown to track down the surprising origins of fortune cookies. (Hint: They’re not from China!) And: If you want to spice up a conference panel, invite some angry, chanting vegans. Just ask Tom.
Oct 07, 2016
15 - What American Food is Missing
Dine out in any major American city, and you'll notice plenty of restaurants paying tribute to immigrant cuisine: taco stands, Ethiopian joints, Jewish delis, Vietnamese cafés. But there’s one striking omission to this melting pot. "There should be restaurants all over the country showcasing Native American foods,” says our guest Sean Sherman, who goes by the name “the Sioux Chef.” A few years ago, Sherman set out to recreate his ancestors' cuisine, the way it was before Indians were forced onto reservations and frybread became their defining dish. Sherman concocts meals like corn and sumac-seared Walleye and duck and wild rice pemmican, and makes use of foraged plants and native fruits and vegetables. We talked to him about what it was like growing up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the history of frybread, and his connection to the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Also: Kiera and Maddie recap some very weird food news stories, involving drones, gummy candies, and Donald Trump.
Sep 23, 2016
14 - The Science of What Kids Eat
Are babies better off on baby food or whole foods? Should they eat all organic? Does a mother’s diet during pregnancy affect her kid’s tastebuds? What’s the deal with alcohol? To try and answer questions like these, parents often have to weigh outdated, loosely researched, or guilt-inducing opinions. Well, today we bring you answers from the authors of The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child’s First Four Years. Scientists Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham have scoured thousands of studies to come up with up-to-date answers for your trickiest parenting food dilemmas. But even if you don’t plan to have kids, chances are, you like baked goods, right? Don’t miss this episode, because Maddie has a special delivery from the heart of the West.
Sep 09, 2016
13 – Can Fast Food Be Healthy?
Tom and Kiera talk to Chef Daniel Patterson about his journey from high-end restaurants to the world of fast food. Jenny checks out an app that connects Silicon Valley's homesick foreign tech workers with food from their homelands, and Kiera wonders: Is it fair to call a soda tax a grocery tax?
Aug 26, 2016
12 – You’re Eating a Lie
Many of the most delectable ingredients, from parmesan cheese to extra-virgin olive oil to tuna sashimi, are deceiving you. Food fraud affects up to 10 percent of the global food supply, and it poses a risk to your health, your taste buds, and your wallet. We chat with Larry Olmsted, author of the book Real Food, Fake Food, about how much of what you eat is a lie, and what you can do about it. Maddie catches up with novelist Margaret Atwood about futuristic pigs, and Tom tells you about the Olympics’ coffee woes.
Aug 12, 2016
11 - Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel - Real Mexican Food
Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel are co-authors of Decolonize Your Diet. The cookbook draws on ingredients and recipes from ancient Mexico. “We quickly found that foods from the pre-Hispanic era were among the healthiest foods on the planet,” writes Calvo. We talk to the couple about those pre-Hispanic foods and get a mouthwatering summer recipe involving squash blossoms. Plus: Tom gives us the scoop on where Hillary and Donald stand on food and agriculture issues, and Kiera dives into a moral debate involving Malcolm Gladwell and college dining.
Jul 29, 2016
10 - Tunde Wey - Cooking While Black
Nigerian chef Tunde Wey talks us through some of the paradoxes of cooking while black, wowed us with anecdotes from his two-week stay at a migrant detention center in El Paso—where the chicken wings are apparently pretty good—and tantalized us with the fundamentals of Nigerian cuisine. He left us hungry to read more of his writing—and try his food.
Jul 15, 2016
9 - Andy Bellatti - The Politics of Health Advice
It may not surprise you that food corporations will say pretty much anything to get us to buy their products. They often promote messages like “exercise more” to divert attention from their high-fat or sugar-laden foods. In this week’s episode we talk to one nutritionist whose goal is to flag differences between Big Food’s marketing schemes and actual science. Tired of seeing his industry getting cozy with corporations, Andy Bellatti founded Dietitians for Professional Integrity. He is known for speaking out against flash-in-the-pan diets and corporate sponsorships. In the episode, Andy shares the good points of fad diets like Paleo and gives us his recipe for a guilt-free treat. Plus, we’ve got an update from Tom Philpott on green smoothies and the latest on what one poultry company is doing to get their chickens to play more.
Jul 01, 2016
8 - Michael Pollan – Magic Mushrooms
You know Michael Pollan from his blockbuster book The Omnivore's Dilemma or his most recent title, Cooked, which was adapted by Netflix as a documentary series. But the celebrity author hasn't always been so obsessed with what people eat. "Before I started writing about food, my focus was really on the human relationship to plants," Michael tells us. "Not only do plants nourish us bodily—they nourish us psychologically.” Now he's researching flora with psychedelic properties for a new book. Part of the project covers recent experimental trials using psilocybin (a compound found in magic mushrooms) to treat cancer patients' anxiety about death. Plus: How much do you know about ayahuasca? And what Amazonian creature did Michael munch on in Brazil?
Jun 17, 2016
7 - Monica Jain - Fishy Business
Our guest Monica Jain is the founder of Fish 2.0, a competition that connects seafood businesses with investors. The conference places emphasis on social and environmental impacts in an attempt to spark responsible innovation in the industry. Monica gives us the scoop on some new technologies helping make the fish you eat safer, and also tells us about a tasty ocean creature she recently dined on. Plus: Wacky new food products, news about an ominous merger in the works, and tips for avoiding seafood fraud.
Jun 03, 2016
6 - Bill Marler - Outbreak!
This week, we talk to a guy who deals with food gone bad. Tainted hamburgers, sour burritos, salmonella-laced chicken: Food poisoning attorney Bill Marler confronts the aftermath of foodborne illnesses. Since gaining a reputation through his litigation during the infamous 1993 Jack-in-the-Box E.coli outbreak, Marler has worked on cases involving companies like McDonald’s, Odwalla, and most recently, Chipotle. He’s also a major force in food safety policy and runs a website called Food Safety News. During our conversation, he traces the rise of illnesses like E.coli and salmonella (“We have to keep up with these bugs”), gives us some tips on avoiding them, and reveals the real scoop on thrice-washed-spinach. We also explore some news about the superbugs emerging from antibiotic resistance in the livestock industry, and discover how food changes when in flight.
May 20, 2016
5 - Amanda Cohen and Adam Danforth - Meat and Veggie Showdown
We're bringing together a professional vegetarian and a professional carnivore. And not just any vegetarian—Amanda Cohen is the chef-owner of the celebrated restaurant Dirt Candy on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Without braising a single pork belly since it opened in 2008, Dirt Candy remains one of New York's hottest restaurants. Our other guest, Adam Danforth, isn't your everyday carnivore. A butcher by trade, Adam has written a James Beard Award-winning guide to meat cutting and worked at New York culinary temples Marlow & Daughters and Blue Hill. Despite his food's popularity, he's the butcher who thinks we should all be eating less meat. Plus: Smoothies! Reality TV! Pig tails!
May 06, 2016
4 - Saru Jayaraman - The Tipping Point
Did you know that servers and other tipped restaurant workers survive on wages as low as $2.13/hour? That’s the tipped minimum wage, which has remained measly in many states since the early 1990s—and it’s keeping people in poverty. Our guest on this week’s episode, Saru Jayaraman, advocates for better treatment and pay for the country's 11 million restaurant workers. Her latest book, Forked: A New Standard of American Dining, examines the fascinating history of tipping in the United States and how restaurants can take the higher road when it comes to labor standards. We also expose some cracks in the farm-to-table movement, and catch up with some Bay Area restaurateurs about what life is like after abolishing tipping.
Apr 22, 2016
3 - Bettina Elias Siegel - Cafeteria Confidential
Think back to the days of mystery meat, tater tots, and suspicious-looking Jello—we’re taking you inside the school cafeteria. Today’s guest, Bettina Elias Siegel, is an intellectual-property lawyer obsessed with school food. Her blog, The Lunch Tray, dives into topics like the corporations infiltrating our education system and the political battles waged over what kids eat. We’ll also get you up to speed on a juicy new start-up, and hear from our listeners about their favorite school lunch memories.
Apr 08, 2016
2 - Marta Zaraska - Zebra Meat and Vegan Butchers
More than two million years ago, early humans started eating meat. Now considering the harsh climate they inhabited, where every day was a fight for survival, you’d think people turned to eating animals just to stay alive, right? Think again. As journalist and author Marta Zaraska puts it, "man's love affair with meat was as much about politics and sex as it was about nutrition.” Zaraska is the author of the new book Meathooked: The History and Science of our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession With Meat. On today’s episode, we talk to her about the cultural traditions, chemical pull, and masterful advertising that have made meat-eating such a worldwide obsession over the ages. We also get the scoop on why agribusiness is salivating over Cuba and learn some tips on understanding the labels on your egg carton.
Mar 25, 2016
1 - Brian Wansink - Choose Your Plate Wisely
Professor Brian Wansink is an expert in eating behavior and the director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. Brian reveals some of the fascinating insights from his research, like how you can better arrange your kitchen to avoid eating too much. And you’ll never guess what animal part he dined on during a recent trip to Norway. We’ll also dig into news about the vegan food lobby and give you some tips on how to make green treats on St. Paddy’s Day without using artificial food dyes.
Mar 11, 2016
Trailer - Introducing Bite
Join acclaimed food and farming blogger Tom Philpott, Mother Jones editors Kiera Butler and Maddie Oatman, and a tantalizing guest list of writers, farmers, scientists, and chefs as they uncover the surprising stories behind what ends up on your plate. We’ll help you digest the food news du jour, explore the politics and science of what you eat and why—and deliver plenty of tasty tidbits along the way.
Mar 04, 2016