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
On 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.
21/08/2020 • 33 minutes 20 seconds
Elderberries Don’t Boost Your Immune System, and Other Coronavirus Myths Debunked
Our 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.
07/08/2020 • 26 minutes 28 seconds
Why We Need Black-Owned Food Media
“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.
24/07/2020 • 56 minutes 2 seconds
Chef Dominique Crenn on Eating as Activism—and the Secret to Phenomenal Sandwiches
Dominique 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.
10/07/2020 • 33 minutes 54 seconds
Swollen Hands, Rampant Contagion, No Sick Days: Processing Chicken During a Pandemic
Meatpacking 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.
26/06/2020 • 25 minutes 26 seconds
White People Own 98 Percent of Rural Land. Young Farmers Are Asking for It Back.
Black 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.
12/06/2020 • 25 minutes 30 seconds
A Science-Loving Chef's Guide to Eating Safely Right Now
Whether 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.
29/05/2020 • 24 minutes 7 seconds
How Does Your Pandemic Garden Grow?
Quarantine 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.
15/05/2020 • 22 minutes 22 seconds
Should Restaurants Be Saved?
Restaurants 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.
01/05/2020 • 31 minutes 8 seconds
Recipe for Escape
Whether 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.
17/04/2020 • 31 minutes 8 seconds
The Food Workers Who Brave Coronavirus to Feed Us
Supermarket cashiers, meal delivery folks, fast-food cooks, and farmworkers—all help keep society together. While that’s always been true, the COVID-19 crisis has put them in the spotlight. On this episode, we talk to food workers who are putting their lives on the line to feed the nation. You’ll hear about how their work has changed in big and small ways, from a Door Dasher’s elaborate cleaning routine to a small farm’s struggle to keep up with the surging demand for CSA boxes.
03/04/2020 • 26 minutes
Your Best Dinner Option Is Hiding in Your Pantry
Get ready to master your pantry, no matter what you've stockpiled. Tamar Adler, author of the book An Everlasting Meal, has tons of tips for home cooking with economy and grace: What to prioritize on your grocery list, how to stretch ingredients across meals and make use of your scraps, and how to keep your sanity while cooking with kids. Plus: The founder of Rancho Gordo talks about how the coronavirus has made everyone desperate for beans, and Tamar offers some tasty recipes that will give you courage to finally cook those dried beans you've been avoiding.
20/03/2020 • 30 minutes 26 seconds
Many Restaurants May Never Re-Open After Coronavirus
Today we bring you a bonus episode from our sister show, The Mother Jones Podcast. The coronavirus pandemic is devastating the hospitality industry. Millions of Americans are in lockdown. Events are being cancelled. The day before the release of this podcast episode, New York City's restaurants and bars have been forced to stop sit-down service. In the midst of a crisis, the worst thing that could happen to the restaurant industry has happened. This week, we talked to restaurant owners in the Chinatown in Flushing, Queens. This is a thriving immigrant community, and food-lover’s paradise, that has been turned upside down by COVID-19. For restauranteurs already operating on slim profit margins, staying open during the shutdown was already near-impossible. The question is whether they’ll be able to reopen at all. Also on the show: you share with us your stories about stepping up to help others through the crisis, and they are seriously inspirational. Tune in for all sorts of strategie
19/03/2020 • 22 minutes 2 seconds
103 – The Golden Arches’ Long Shadow on Black America
“Getting people to trust fast-food is a process,” says Marcia Chatelain, author of the new book Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. For many Black communities, that process started at a precise moment in history: The resulting chaos following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination created the perfect opening for McDonald’s to step in and promise progress in the form of Black-owned businesses. But the resulting relationship has been complex; fast-food has been a source of both power and despair in Black America. “Businesses’ job is to maximize profits,” Marcia tells Bite fellow Camille Squires, “but they can’t set the possibilities for people’s lives.” Plus: Marcia reveals her true feelings about Popeye’s chicken sandwiches.
06/03/2020 • 27 minutes 37 seconds
102 – You've Never Met Anyone Like This Bee Hunter
The new documentary Honeyland is getting rave reviews. Set in North Macedonia, it seems at first to be about the process of hunting for wild bees. And bees do fill the film—flitting in and out of the frame, stinging neighbors, and turning the harsh landscape into molten gold. But the real focus of the film is on a captivating woman named Hatizde. Maddie talks to the Honeyland filmmakers Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov about their remarkable experience following this highly unusual protagonist.
21/02/2020 • 17 minutes 32 seconds
101 – Michael Pollan on the Iowa Farmers Who Will Sway the Election
There's a new power broker in national politics, but it's not a politician. Art Cullen, editor of the tiny Iowa newspaper the Storm Lake Times, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for his op-eds on Big Ag meddling in local communities. Now, presidential candidates make sure to visit him while on the campaign trail. Ahead of the Iowa caucus, Cullen talks to legendary food writer Michael Pollan about rural economics, climate change, and the presidential election. This interview comes to us thanks to the UC-Berkeley School of Journalism and the Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Fellowship.
03/02/2020 • 32 minutes 13 seconds
100 – Who Are the Millennial Farmers?
Bite’s special 100th episode is all about young farmers. You’ll hear from all kinds of folks—from a fourth generation Japanese American fruit grower in California to a “party farmer” in Brooklyn—about what’s keeping them up at night, and what’s giving them hope. Plus, Leah Penniman, farmer and author of the book Farming While Black, weighs in on how young farmers are fighting the legacy of racism in American agriculture, and Bite listeners chime in with stories of the farmers in their lives.
24/01/2020 • 27 minutes 9 seconds
Chicken, Waffles, and Smashing the Patriarchy
Chef Tanya Holland is the owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen, a soul food restaurant in Oakland. She has written cookbooks, appeared on Top Chef, and recently became the first black chef to run a restaurant in San Francisco’s foodie epicenter, the Ferry Building. Tanya talks to Tom about breaking into a white-male-dominated industry and preserving food culture amid the rising tide of tech cafeterias.
10/01/2020 • 23 minutes 28 seconds
The Bizarre Fad Diet Taking the Far Right by Storm
Lately, Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist known for his arch-conservative politics and views on masculinity, has been talking up the virtues of carnivorism. He’s not the only extreme right winger who has an unusual relationship with meat. In today’s episode, we talk to Kelly Weill, a Daily Beast reporter who wrote about the rise of the all-meat diet in the conservative fringe. Then, University of Colorado PhD student Alexis de Coning talks about her investigation into the disturbing history of veganism among white nationalists.
27/12/2019 • 25 minutes 27 seconds
99 – This Lab Makes Real Meat—But Not From Animals. Will You Eat It?
On the last episode of Eating in Climate Chaos, we explore the brave new world of lab-grown meat. First, we visit a startup called Finless Foods that’s making actual fish—without killing any actual fish. Then, we talk to Ben Wurgaft, author of the new book Meat Planet: Artificial Flesh and the Future of Food, about some of the thorny philosophical questions swirling around this food of the future.
13/12/2019 • 31 minutes 20 seconds
98 – The Leftovers
Silicon Valley's tech companies are all competing for talent, and offering employees perks like free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And all those free meals create a lot of leftovers. One organization aims to redirect that food away from the landfill and into the mouths of people in need. Ride along with Mother Jones' Marisa Endicott and Les Tso, a driver for Food Runners, as he rescues uneaten grub and delivers it to the far corners of the city. Then, two New Mexico farmers have a different strategy for dealing with leftovers: turning them into bacon
28/11/2019 • 17 minutes 54 seconds
97 – 5 Presidential Candidates Dish on the Future of Food
How would each of the presidential hopefuls change your experience at the grocery store and in the kitchen? On this episode of Bite's special series Eating in Climate Chaos, you’ll hear straight from the mouths of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris on their food and climate plans—from supporting farmers and small business owners to protecting people in rural towns and cities from contaminated air and water. Mother Jones climate reporter Rebecca Leber and our very own Tom Philpott are on hand to offer sharp insight and context as Bite sheds light on the 2020 election.
15/11/2019 • 34 minutes 20 seconds
96 – Beef Got Us Into This Mess. But Can It Also Help Reverse Global Warming?
Rancher Loren Poncia counts roughly 500 Angus beef cattle, 350 sheep, and 19 hogs among his brood at his scenic Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales, California. And there’s something else he’s farming—something that has the potential to revolutionize agriculture as we know it. Visit Loren on his ranch, and then hear from scientists Rattan Lal, Drawdown Project executive director Jonathan Foley, and restaurant owners Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz to learn about how farmers and ranchers will play a crucial role in slowing climate change—and maybe even reversing it—through carbon sequestration.
01/11/2019 • 32 minutes 2 seconds
95 – In Vino Veritas
Wine growers in Napa can no longer rely on the consistent fog and cool nights that brought the region global fame. Mother Jones politics reporter Kara Voght takes a break from covering the Hill and travels to Napa to learn about how vintners are coping—and why wine matters in the conversation about climate change. And Tom Philpott travels to Iowa to witness the wreckage from this year's flooding and to drink beer with a very spirited rye farmer.
18/10/2019 • 31 minutes 8 seconds
94 – “All the Delicious Foods Are Dying”
In the inaugural episode of Bite’s special series, “Eating in Climate Chaos,” we explore the foods climate change will hit first. Journalist Amanda Little has some warnings about the tastiest delicacies—from cherries to coffee. Delicious foods aren’t the only thing we need to worry about: We hear from a scientist who’s studying how increasing carbon dioxide levels are making plants less nutritious. But it’s not all bad news! We visit a farm in California to learn about how a tiny little berry could have huge lessons to teach us about drought.
04/10/2019 • 36 minutes 27 seconds
Trailer - Eating in Climate Chaos
Get ready for a special series from Bite, "Eating in Climate Chaos," out on October 4.
30/09/2019 • 1 minute 46 seconds
92 – There Is Such Thing as a Free (School) Lunch
School’s back in session, and every day, 30 million kids head to the cafeteria to chow down. On this episode of Bite, Tom returns to the lunchroom at his elementary school alma mater and finds that the grey mystery meat he remembers has been replaced by tasty, fresh offerings that are free to every student. And he catches up with Jennifer Gaddis, author of the book The Labor of Lunch, who explains the economic forces that figure into school food, from “lunch shaming” to fair wages for cafeteria workers.
20/09/2019 • 31 minutes 17 seconds
91 – Your Next Designer Apple Product Is Crunchy and Sweet
Gone are the days where the Red Delicious, Gala, and Fuji reigned supreme. These days, growers are on the hunt for "value-added apples." People are pouring millions of dollars into the launch of one such variety, the Cosmic Crisp, which debuts later this fall. Seattle-based journalist Brooke Jarvis, who penned the story "The Launch" in the latest issue of "California Sunday Magazine," is here to untangle what this launch means for the produce industry at large—and to reveal how the Crisp tastes.
06/09/2019 • 17 minutes 55 seconds
90 – The Real Problem With Chipotle Burritos
Writer and Mexican culture aficionado Gustavo Arellano explains how the burrito giant Chipotle is endangering regional—and delicious—Mexican-American dishes. Lucky for us, he has some ideas for how we can bring them back.
23/08/2019 • 17 minutes 23 seconds
89 – The Gangster Gardener and the Drunken Botanist
Writer and botanist Amy Stewart, author of “The Drunken Botanist,” 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 has some tasty recipes). And Ron Finley explains what it means to be a “gangster gardener.”
09/08/2019 • 26 minutes 33 seconds
88 – New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered.
In 1985, Coca-Cola debuted New Coke. It was the company’s effort to remake itself, in the face of competition from other soda companies and lagging sales. But things didn’t really go as planned. Mother Jones senior reporter Tim Murphy pulls back the curtain on what really happened during the bungled launch of New Coke in the 1980s—and how this fascinating piece of history has resonance today. Then some of our reporters do a blind taste-test to see if they can distinguish New Coke from Classic Coke and Pepsi.
26/07/2019 • 31 minutes 27 seconds
87 – The Dirt on Truffles
Truffles are one of the most sought-after foods in the world. People use specially trained animals to sniff out this delectable fungus on tree roots, and a pound of white truffles can sell for thousands of dollars. But there’s a dark side to this delicacy. We talk to journalist Ryan Jacobs about his new book, The Truffle Underground. And he’s got all the dirt: theft, fraud, poisoned dogs, and even murder.
12/07/2019 • 25 minutes 56 seconds
86 – Meet the Farmers Saving Your Food From Climate Chaos
Growing food in America has always been unforgiving. But this year took it to a whole new level: Storm surges and bomb-cyclones wreaked havoc on the Midwest's planting season. Tom traveled to Iowa and Illinois to get the view from the ground, and discovered how farmers are fighting back.
28/06/2019 • 23 minutes 6 seconds
85 – A Syrian Refugee Cures Homesickness With Hummus
In 2018, reporter Shane Bauer traveled to Syria to unpack America’s involvement in its bitter conflict. Hear an excerpt of a special Mother Jones Podcast series following in his footsteps. Then you’ll meet a Syrian refugee chef who couldn’t return to his homeland—but found a way to get a taste of it from New York.
14/06/2019 • 15 minutes 55 seconds
84 – The Problem With Home-Cooked Meals
What’s not to love about a meal prepared from scratch at home? Well, a few things actually, according to Joslyn Brenton, co-author of the new book Pressure Cooker: Why Homecooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It. Brenton and her co-authors embedded with nine women to find out what it takes to feed a family today. They found that the expectation to return to the kitchen to solve the food system’s woes places an undue burden on busy parents. Tom talks to Brenton to hear more about the project. And assistant editor Yu Vongkiatkajorn makes some discoveries about what people mean when they use the word “authentic” in Yelp reviews.
31/05/2019 • 31 minutes 11 seconds
83 – Nobody Puts Vegetables in the Corner
If you’ve ever had trouble figuring out what to do with a bunch of vegetables, this episode is for you. Just in time for summer grilling season, Maddie talks to Abra Berens, author of the new cookbook Ruffage: a Practical Guide to Vegetables. Abra dishes on the link between how plants grow and how they taste, what to do about bland, squishy zucchini, and how to make summer veggies the centerpiece at your next barbecue.
17/05/2019 • 18 minutes 37 seconds
82 – Passover in Prison
Lloyd Payne, 29, has been incarcerated since he was 14. In previous prisons, "we got made fun of for being Jewish, and for eating a certain way and practicing a certain life," he said. Now that he’s at California’s San Quentin State Prison, he can attend an annual Passover gathering with the Jewish community behind bars. We sent a reporter to this Seder to see what it was like.
03/05/2019 • 12 minutes 42 seconds
81 – High Steaks
The American taste for beef is on the rise again. Oxford University scientist Marco Springmann discusses the impact of a hamburger-heavy diet on the planet, and what it would take to make a dent in our food-related emissions. Then we look closer at the promises of grass-fed beef. And then, we asked you, our listeners, why you became vegetarians. Some of your answers were pretty standard—and some were totally wacky.
19/04/2019 • 28 minutes 23 seconds
80 – Helen Oyeyemi's Delightfully Sinister Gingerbread
Helen Oyeyemi's novel “Gingerbread” is a smart, fantastical story about three generations of women who share a recipe. The tea cake is at times delicious—and at times sinister. Oyeyemi tells us that she was drawn to "the mix of safety and danger all combined in one seemingly innocuous foodstuff." Later in the show, the Bite hosts get baking tips from an in-house expert.
05/04/2019 • 19 minutes 26 seconds
79 – The Words This Food Critic Will Never Use
San Francisco Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho won’t use the word “ethnic” in her restaurant reviews: “The assumption that it doesn’t apply equally to people and cuisines associated with Europe or white America gives me such a headache, ” she writes. Ho and guest Victoria Bouloubasis are part of a crowing crop of restaurant reviewers who are rethinking food criticism, and increasingly dealing with the bigger societal issues diners and food workers confront, from racism to labor to identity politics and environmental concerns. They talk with Tom about this new approach. And they discuss more food words that are outdated.
22/03/2019 • 22 minutes 43 seconds
78 – How Slavery's Brutal Legacy Lingers in American Cooking
Archaeologist and historian Kelley Fanto Deetz talks to Tom about her deep dive into the world of enslaved cooks on antebellum Virginia's plush plantations—and she makes the case that the first celebrity chef was a slave. Plus: Maddie interviews Jonathan Townsend, a colonial reenactor, about his popular cooking channel and the early American recipes he endorses. And we hear a dispatch from Jordan Gass-Poore, who attended a Prohibition-themed event in New York City.
08/03/2019 • 31 minutes 53 seconds
77 – "Bao" Director Domee Shi Gives a Sweet Dumpling a Dark Twist
Domee Shi, director of Pixar's Oscar-nominated short film "Bao," was afraid that people "would be too upset" by the shocking turn in her fantastical tale about a cute, little Chinese dumpling. But it ended up being her secret ingredient. Plus: How food plays an essential role in the year's best films.
22/02/2019 • 24 minutes 59 seconds
76 – What It Feels Like to Be Big in America
Tommy Tomlinson is the author of “The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.” He talks to Mother Jones reporter Edwin Rios about his Southern upbringing and his tortured relationship with fast-food. He also reveals how former NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen inspired him to tell his own story, and he reveals what people get wrong about obesity and losing weight.
08/02/2019 • 25 minutes 29 seconds
75 – Cooking Chicken With Beto O’Rourke
You can now hang out with Beto O'Rourke in his kitchen or chat with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while she makes mac’n’cheese in her InstantPot: Politicians are using social media to livestream their everyday moments. Mother Jones senior reporter Tim Murphy dissects this phenomenon—and talks about what it means for politics today. We also pay a visit to the #ChefsForFeds relief kitchen, which doled out free meals to furloughed federal workers during the shutdown.
25/01/2019 • 25 minutes 23 seconds
74 – The Cult of the Chili Pepper
We all know that burning sensation particular to eating chili peppers. But who knew the tiny fruit did so much more than make our mouths sweat? Stuart Walton, author of the new book “The Devil’s Dinner,” reveals the life-altering power of capsaicin, the active compound in chilis. Then Nopalito Chef Gonzalo Guzman shares his tips and tricks for taming dried chili peppers.
11/01/2019 • 25 minutes 10 seconds
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. Former 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: https://open.spotify.com/user/bitepodcast/playlist/0FL2y3sIvGD3FKFYqliPaB
28/12/2018 • 23 minutes 45 seconds
73 – The Five-Second Rule, and Other Food Myths Busted
Is the five-second rule real? How risky is double-dipping chips at a potluck? Food safety expert Paul Dawson, co-author of the new book "Did You Just Eat That?", shares scientific answers to our most pressing questions about germs at the table. Then we visit a mysterious basement marketplace showcasing the future of meat.
14/12/2018 • 21 minutes 56 seconds
72 – These Spices Will Transform Your Life
In the introduction to his new cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, Nik Sharma writes: “Mine is the story of a gay immigrant, told through food.” Nik was born in India, but left his native country for the United States in part because he wanted greater opportunity to be himself. In his cookbook, popular food blog, and columns for the San Francisco Chronicle, he does just that. Nik takes American classics like egg salad, and experiments with incorporating the Indian spices and cooking methods of his childhood. On this episode of Bite, Maddie talks to Nik about identity, chai, and why he cringes whenever he hears the word “fusion.”
30/11/2018 • 24 minutes 4 seconds
71 – When Food Stamps "Turn Your Life Around"
Thanksgiving is a time when we talk about what we’re thankful to have—and remember that not everyone has a lot. In this episode, we hear from some people who are very grateful to have had the support of SNAP benefits—which used to be called food stamps—during a hard time. Then, Maddie catches up with a researcher who found a troubling decline in the use of SNAP among one group of particularly needy Americans.
16/11/2018 • 27 minutes 55 seconds
70 – Sheriff Corndog
Mother Jones’ reporters bring you food-adjacent stories from this year’s midterm election. Madison Pauly fills us in on the history of an Alabama sheriff who got rich off his jail inmates with the help of a truckload of corndogs, and how voters will decide whether it could happen again. And then Tim Murphy takes us to Nevada, a crucial swing state, where members of the culinary workers union have mastered the art of political organizing—and could have lessons for the Democratic party nationwide.
02/11/2018 • 16 minutes 49 seconds
69 – Samin Nosrat Gets Salty
Have you ever wondered if there's a secret to salting your food to bring out its best flavor? On this episode, we catch up with chef and writer Samin Nosrat, who’s kind of an expert on the subject. Her hit cookbook, Salt Fat Acid Heat, was just turned into a riveting Netflix series. Samin tells Maddie all about making miso in Japan, and what it was like to turn her cooking advice into TV. And she schools us on how to use salt. Plus: Addicted to Lacroix sparkling water? Here’s what the wacky press statements released by the company’s founder reveal about his political vision—and the essence of the drink.
19/10/2018 • 31 minutes 41 seconds
68 – The Godfather of Mexican Wine
When we think Mexican booze, tequila and limey beers come to mind. But people have been producing wine there for hundreds of years, ever since Spanish missionaries first brought grapes to the country in the 1500s. Meet the Godfather and Godmother of Valle de Guadalupe, an arid region near the coast of Baja known for its marine flavors and rocky soil. Valle’s wine renaissance has breathed life into the valley's economy and brought it worldwide attention. But in such a fragile ecosystem—the attention comes at a cost.
05/10/2018 • 10 minutes 44 seconds
67 – The Shocking Reason Why Millions of Animals Drowned in North Carolina
This episode takes listeners to eastern North Carolina to see how Hurricane Florence has walloped massive chicken and hog farms. Millions of animals have died, and waste from hog farms is seeping into local waterways. Tom talks to local water advocate Matthew Starr, whose team has been documenting submerged farms, about the worsening situation. Then, Tom catches up with retired North Carolina poultry farmer Craig Watts, who’s seen firsthand how severe storms can lay waste to the region where Florence hit—and leave farms reeling.
21/09/2018 • 24 minutes 51 seconds
66 – The Bizarre Fad Diet Taking the Far Right by Storm
Lately, Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist known for his arch-conservative politics and views on masculinity, has been talking up the virtues of carnivorism. He’s not the only extreme right winger who has an unusual relationship with meat. In today’s episode, we talk to Kelly Weill, a Daily Beast reporter who wrote about the rise of the all-meat diet in the conservative fringe. Then, University of Colorado PhD student Alexis De Coning talks about her investigation into the disturbing history of veganism among white nationalists.
07/09/2018 • 25 minutes 27 seconds
65 – What to Cook for Your Favorite Author
Author Rick Bass toured the country and made dinner for the literary giants who inspired him throughout his career. There was pistachio-encrusted salmon for the late Denis Johnson, elk burgers for Zen poet Gary Snyder, paella for short-fiction genius Lorrie Moore, and ginger ice cream sandwiches for Terry Tempest Williams. Shopping for quail with essayist David Sedaris in rural England proved awkward and anxiety-inducing. Hear Rick talk about these meals and more. Then, MoJo fellow Kari Sonde interviews author Naben Ruthnum about the complicated connotations of the word curry—and how our search for authenticity sometimes leads us astray. Episode includes the song "Deliberation" by Seth Augustus.
24/08/2018 • 34 minutes 30 seconds
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.
10/08/2018 • 29 minutes 24 seconds
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.
27/07/2018 • 30 minutes 26 seconds
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 says. Then, 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.
13/07/2018 • 23 minutes 51 seconds
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!
29/06/2018 • 24 minutes 8 seconds
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 www.motherjones.com/veggie-stories)
15/06/2018 • 26 minutes 59 seconds
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.
08/06/2018 • 45 minutes 54 seconds
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.”
31/05/2018 • 26 minutes 33 seconds
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 glas
25/05/2018 • 28 minutes 37 seconds
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.
18/05/2018 • 28 minutes 8 seconds
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.
04/05/2018 • 20 minutes 49 seconds
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.
20/04/2018 • 36 minutes 46 seconds
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.
06/04/2018 • 28 minutes 16 seconds
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.”
23/03/2018 • 29 minutes 12 seconds
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.
09/03/2018 • 32 minutes 59 seconds
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 Thread, The 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.
23/02/2018 • 35 minutes 33 seconds
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.
09/02/2018 • 35 minutes 34 seconds
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.
26/01/2018 • 24 minutes 3 seconds
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.
12/01/2018 • 30 minutes
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.
29/12/2017 • 25 minutes 46 seconds
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.
15/12/2017 • 16 minutes 10 seconds
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.)
01/12/2017 • 28 minutes 29 seconds
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!
17/11/2017 • 20 minutes 8 seconds
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.
03/11/2017 • 13 minutes 19 seconds
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.
20/10/2017 • 19 minutes 37 seconds
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.
06/10/2017 • 29 minutes 55 seconds
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.
22/09/2017 • 17 minutes 24 seconds
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: https://open.spotify.com/user/bitepodcast/playlist/0FL2y3sIvGD3FKFYqliPaB
08/09/2017 • 23 minutes 45 seconds
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.”
25/08/2017 • 25 minutes 58 seconds
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.
11/08/2017 • 29 minutes 38 seconds
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.
28/07/2017 • 20 minutes 30 seconds
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.
14/07/2017 • 29 minutes 9 seconds
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.
30/06/2017 • 26 minutes 46 seconds
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.
16/06/2017 • 20 minutes 13 seconds
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.
02/06/2017 • 28 minutes 12 seconds
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.
19/05/2017 • 19 minutes 49 seconds
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?
05/05/2017 • 23 minutes 53 seconds
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.
21/04/2017 • 25 minutes 11 seconds
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.
07/04/2017 • 31 minutes 3 seconds
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.
24/03/2017 • 28 minutes 34 seconds
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.
10/03/2017 • 24 minutes 3 seconds
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.
24/02/2017 • 25 minutes 47 seconds
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.
10/02/2017 • 21 minutes 50 seconds
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.
27/01/2017 • 26 minutes 42 seconds
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.
13/01/2017 • 23 minutes 39 seconds
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.
16/12/2016 • 28 minutes 35 seconds
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.
02/12/2016 • 28 minutes 58 seconds
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.
18/11/2016 • 27 minutes 4 seconds
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.
04/11/2016 • 33 minutes 38 seconds
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.
21/10/2016 • 25 minutes 15 seconds
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.
07/10/2016 • 34 minutes 24 seconds
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
23/09/2016 • 24 minutes 1 second
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.
09/09/2016 • 38 minutes 34 seconds
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?
26/08/2016 • 34 minutes 6 seconds
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.
12/08/2016 • 28 minutes 58 seconds
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.
29/07/2016 • 35 minutes 39 seconds
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.
15/07/2016 • 27 minutes 43 seconds
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.
01/07/2016 • 25 minutes 14 seconds
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?
17/06/2016 • 50 minutes 34 seconds
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.
03/06/2016 • 26 minutes 6 seconds
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.
20/05/2016 • 31 minutes 48 seconds
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!
06/05/2016 • 29 minutes 34 seconds
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.
22/04/2016 • 32 minutes 57 seconds
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.
08/04/2016 • 23 minutes 50 seconds
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.
25/03/2016 • 31 minutes 50 seconds
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.
11/03/2016 • 22 minutes 36 seconds
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.