Learn the science behind:
Listening to podcasts is the perfect thing to do while walking, commuting, jogging, cooking, cleaning, etc. Everything that does not necessarily require your brain to be active, but does require your hands or feet to be busy, is suitable for podcast listening. Personally, I love listening to podcasts a lot and listen to a whole variety of podcasts. Food has always been essential for us humans and it’s probably why there are so many fascinating stories about it.
And the good thing is, there are a lot of podcasts nowadays that discuss food and/or science, in other words, perfect episodes/series for FoodCrumbles readers! Over time, our collection of great podcast episodes grew so much, we decided to start sorting them by food type!
French fry science
To get a good base in your french fry understanding, start with this Gastropod episode. It discusses the history and science of french fries. They visit several french fry musea in Europe and cover all things fries.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his revisionist history podcast, laments the disappearance of the good McDonalds fries. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, when discussion around the health aspects saturated fats was at its peak, McDonalds shifted their frying oil from animal to plant based. Which apparently has changed the flavour of the fry quite a bit.
There are so many stories to tell when it comes to fruit. A great episode that discusses the past and future of strawberries is The Food Programme. The history of strawberries can be traced back to its origin quite well, which is actually very unique for foods. It’s probably just one of the reasons Gastropod also decided to do a show about strawberries.
Apples are quite a unique fruit (at least, in Western Europe and the US, it’s probably different elsewhere) since it’s one of few fruits of which you can buy a whole range of types and varieties in the supermarket! Planet Money has a great episode on how this came to be. The Sporkful discusses how new apple varieties are created.
Note, ever realized how important the apple you choose is for how your apple pie turns out?
Every country and region has their own foods that play important roles in their history. For the cheese loving Swiss one of those is Swiss fondue. It’s important enough to have its own full fledged conspiracy, as reported by Planet Money.
In the US, dairy, especially milk, has traditionally been a core ingredient that people would come to the supermarket for. It’s why it’s often at the back of the store, requiring people to walk all the way through the store to get there (and buying other things as they go of course). It’s Planet Money that explained it to me.
The food business is a tricky one. Margins are low and customers are whimsy, no matter where you live. Planet Money did a great podcast on the economics of a food truck. Where can trucks sell, what should they sell and how do you cope with your competition? 99% Invisible did a nice podcast episode on the Automat, a restaurant concept without any waiter. Instead, with little holes in the wall where you can retrieve your food. It may have died down, but is definitely alive in the Netherlands!
If you’re interested in starting your own business, or just listen to others who started one, How I built this is a great podcast. Of course, not all are food related, but those that are, are true jewels. Such as the episode with the founder from Dippin Dots (a scientist started that company!) or the Tofurky episode.
General food (science) podcasts
Apart from these specific great episodes, several of which have inspired articles on this website, there are a lot more. Some podcasts that we listed above only discuss food (and science) so would be worthwhile a listen apart from those episodes we highlighted.
Gastropod: If you would have to listen to one podcast on food and science. It would be this one. It is completed dedicated to the topic. They are good story tellers and seamlessly switch between in-depth analyses of science and history and just good talks.
The Sporkful: I have listed a few favorite episodes from this show above already. Apart from those, there are a lot more episodes on food, but mostly about the people eating the food. Some episodes are more my style than others, but the positive energy from the host Dan Pashman is always great.
America’s Test Kitchen: I’ve listened to a lot of their episodes which always have a similar build up: answer questions of listeners, an interview, a test of food or kitchen stuff and some other topics. Whereas I generally like the interview, it only makes up a small part of the show. After several episodes I had heard enough questions of listeners so removed it from my list. That said, if you’d like to hear a show to really improve your cooking, I think this is a good one.
Food52 – Burnt Toast: A slightly more irregular show, some episodes are long, some short. There’s interviews with chefs, just discussions, etc. Not completely my style, but entertaining if you like to hear people talk about food.
Sign up to our weekly newsletter to be updated on new food science articles.
Special Sauce – Serious Eats: It’s a good and nice podcast. However, if you don’t know all the people who come by in the show, either because they’re local or US based and not known in Europe, it’s simply less interesting. That said, as of September 2019 they updated their format which does make it more interesting to me.
The Heritage Network: Even though the name doesn’t make me think of food, this network is 100% food related. It’s a US radio network airing only shows on food, most of which can also be downloaded as a podcast. As a non-US citizen several shows aren’t that interesting since they are completely US focused. Also, most shows miss the high quality of a show as Planet Money. Nevertheless, if all you want to hear is food and it doesn’t have to be the best radio ever, this is the network for you. One specific show from the network, Taste of the past, is all about the history of food which has interesting episodes regularly