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.
Sami Tamimi on the Delicious Complexity of Palestinian Food
33:20On this episode, we hear from chef and writer Sami Tamimi, Yotam Ottolenghi’s partner and author of the new cookbook Falastin that brings you right into the center of one of the globe’s most hotly contested territories, Isreali-occupied Palestine. And, Tom Philpott is more than just a Bite host—he’s also the author of a new book! Tom tells us all about Perilous Bounty, in which he chronicles how industrial farming threatens our entire food system.
Elderberries Don’t Boost Your Immune System, and Other Coronavirus Myths Debunked
26:28Our inboxes have been filled to the brim with advice from people peddling vitamins, herbs, and diets—all claiming that the product that they were hawking would help supercharge the body’s defenses to ward off the coronavirus. Is there any truth to these pitches? Can certain foods—like elderberries, garlic, and zinc—really help strengthen your immune system? How about a good night’s sleep, or getting enough exercise? We take a hard look at these claims, with help from Timothy Caulfield, a law professor at the University of Alberta and the research director of its Health Law Institute. He studies how companies and brands use and misuse medical and scientific research, and he’s the host of the TV series A User's Guide to Cheating Death, in which he debunks pseudoscientific claims.
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Why We Need Black-Owned Food Media
56:02“When we don’t own our media, we will not own our messages,” says Stephen Satterfield, the founder of the food culture magazine Whetstone, and one of the only Black owners of a major food publication. Satterfield talks about the challenges of finding investors for new media projects. Then Kiano Moju, founder of the production studio Jikoni, reflects on her experiences with racism while making viral recipe videos and reveals her vision for her website where users can submit recipes from the African diaspora.
Chef Dominique Crenn on Eating as Activism—and the Secret to Phenomenal Sandwiches
33:54Dominique Crenn famously nabbed her first cooking job, at the legendary San Francisco restaurant Stars, without ever having gone to culinary school. She went on to become the first female chef in North America to hold three Michelin stars for her restaurant Atelier Crenn, and she has a reputation as a vocal activist for environmental and social causes—from ditching meat on her menus to championing equality in the workplace. Her new memoir is called Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters. This episode was a collaboration with the Commonwealth Club’s Inforum Series.
Swollen Hands, Rampant Contagion, No Sick Days: Processing Chicken During a Pandemic
25:26Meatpacking plants across the United States have become coronavirus hotspots—and workers at chicken plants are particularly vulnerable. Caitlin Esch, a senior producer at Marketplace, digs into the history behind chicken production in America and talks about what she’s learned over nearly a year of investigative reporting into labor conditions at poultry plants in the South. This episode of Bite is a collaboration with The Uncertain Hour, an investigative podcast from Marketplace’s Wealth and Poverty desk.
White People Own 98 Percent of Rural Land. Young Farmers Are Asking for It Back.
25:30Black families own just one percent of the country’s arable land. But that’s despite the fact US agriculture has deep roots in African traditions. Leah Penniman, author of the book Farming While Black, delves into the roots of our modern farming practices, and talks about a growing movement among young Black and indigenous farmers to reclaim lost land. Plus: A dispatch from Minneapolis, where a Jamaican restaurant has transformed into a protest supply hub.
A Science-Loving Chef's Guide to Eating Safely Right Now
24:07Whether you’re in lockdown or beginning to ease your way back into public life—you still need to eat every day. And the questions are still swirling: Are groceries safe? Should I reheat food when I bring it home? Does my delivery meal pose a risk? There’s no better expert on evidence-based advice about all things food than chef and writer J. Kenji López-Alt. He has all the answers you’re craving on this week’s episode of Bite.
How Does Your Pandemic Garden Grow?
22:22Quarantine has prompted a burst of gardening activity around the country; some people have even likened it to the 1940s Victory Garden movement. In a third-floor apartment in Queens, two roommates have figured out how to grow a whole host of vegetables without a backyard. Then we talk to Doria Robinson, executive director of Urban Tilth in Richmond, California, to try and understand what it will take to make disaster gardens last beyond times of crisis.
Should Restaurants Be Saved?
31:08Restaurants run on social contact and razor-thin profit margins. So COVID-19 stopped them cold, and brought them to the brink of financial ruin. In today's episode, Tom Colicchio—owner of Manhattan restaurant empire Crafted Hospitality and judge on Top Chef—makes the case that the government's stimulus efforts are a recipe for mass restaurant extinction, and calls for a program targeted directly at saving independent eateries. Then Nigerian-born, New Orleans-based chef and activist Tunde Wey pushes back, arguing that restaurants as we know them aren't worth saving without major reforms.
Recipe for Escape
31:08Whether you are working mandatory overtime shifts, feeling stuck inside a third-floor apartment, or full-time parenting on top of working at home—chances are, you’re craving to break free. So today, we bring you two stories about escape. First, kava is a traditional drink from the South Pacific that recently made its way to trendy Manhattan bars. And some experts say it can release you from anxiety. Then: Think you’re feeling cooped up? Try being a chicken. Novelist Deb Olin Unferth discusses her new book, Barn 8, about two rogue inspectors who decide to let a million birds run wild.