All Summaries for Gastropod

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Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food. Find us online at, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at

All Aboard the Tuna Rollercoaster! Join the King of Fish for a Wild Ride that Involves Ernest Hemingway and (of course) Jane Fonda
A bluefin tuna can grow to the size of a car, weigh twice as much as a grand piano, swim as fast as a running lion, and keep its muscles at human body temperature even in the ocean's coldest depths. It's also wildly delicious, with a sweet, briny, but meaty taste and a melt-in-your mouth texture that has made it the most expensive fish in the world, with a single bluefin selling for a record-breaking $3 million in 2019. Not bad for a fish that, until recently, New England fishermen used to have to pay to dispose of. This episode, we've got the story of how the king of fish went from the coin of the realm in ancient Byzantium to cat food before bouncing back, in a tale that involves Alexander the Great, Ernest Hemingway, and a couple of Canadian coffin-makers. But popularity has proven a double-edged sword for the bluefin: in the past few decades, it's been fished almost to extinction, while also becoming the poster child for saving the oceans. These days there's big news in tuna world, and, for the first time in years, environmentalists and scientists have hope for the bluefin's future. So is it time to start ordering maguro again at the sushi bar? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, September 5, 2023
The Keto Paradox: Fad Diet *and* Life-Saving Medical Treatment
What do some epilepsy patients have in common with tech bros, bodybuilders, and Joe Rogan? The high-fat, carb-shunning diet known as keto, whose history dates back much further than its 2010s rise to fame. In this episode, Gastropod traces how a medical treatment pioneered more than 2,500 years ago was refined in the 1920s to treat seizures. We trace its wild ride in and out of fashion, with cameos from Robert Atkins, the 80s exercise craze, and Meryl Streep. And, of course, we've got the myth-busting science on what ketosis and ketones really are, the dangers of eating this way to lose weight, and the reason this diet can be life-saving—for people with a very specific medical condition. Bust out the butter (but please don't put it in coffee) and join us down the keto rabbit hole. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, August 22, 2023
Secrets of Sourdough (encore)
Today, you can find a huge variety of breads on supermarket shelves, only a few of which are called "sourdough." For most of human history, though, any bread that wasn't flat was sourdough—that is, it was leavened with a wild community of microbes. And yet we know surprisingly little about the microbes responsible for raising sourdough bread, not to mention making it more nutritious and delicious than bread made with commercial yeast. For starters, where do the fungi and bacteria in a sourdough starter come from? Are they in the water or the flour? Do they come from the baker's hands? Or perhaps they're just floating around in the foggy air, as the bakers of San Francisco firmly believe? This episode, Cynthia and Nicky go to Belgium with two researchers, fifteen bakers, and quite a few microbes for a three-day science experiment designed to answer this question once and for all. Listen in for our exclusive scoop on the secrets of sourdough. (encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, August 8, 2023
Watch It Wiggle: The Jell-O Story (encore)
It's been described as the ultimate status symbol for the wealthy, as the perfect solution for dieters and the sick, and, confusingly, as a liquid trapped in a solid that somehow remains fluid. What could this magical substance be? In case you haven't guessed, this episode, we're talking about Jell-O! Or, to be more precise, jelly—not the seedless kind you spread on toast, but the kind that shimmers on your plate, wiggles and jiggles on your spoon, and melts in your mouth. Jelly's story is as old as cooking itself—it is one that involves spectacular riches and dazzling displays, as well as California's poet laureate and some very curious chemistry. (encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, July 25, 2023
Where's the Beef? Lab-Grown Meat is Finally on the Menu
Can we really have our burger, eat it—and never need to kill a cow? Growing meat outside of animals—in a lab or, these days, in shiny steel bioreactors—promises to deliver a future in which we can enjoy sausages and sushi without guilt, and maybe even without sending our planet up in smoke. For years, it's seemed like science fiction, but it's finally a reality: this month, Americans will get their first chance to buy cultivated meat in a restaurant. But how exactly do you get chicken nuggets, BLTs, and bluefin sashimi from a bunch of cells growing in large metal vats? Does this new cultivated meat taste any good? Can enough be grown to replace industrial meat? And, if so, is this new technology actually an improvement on industrial animal agriculture and fishing? Gastropod is on the case! Join us this episode as we sink our teeth into a whole lot of lab-grown lunches, uncover the science behind the sci-fi, and investigate whether the companies making cultivated meat can actually fulfill the lofty promises they make. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, July 11, 2023
The Incredible Egg (encore)
We love eggs scrambled, fried, or poached; we couldn't enjoy a quiche, meringue, or flan without them. But for scientists and archaeologists, these perfect packages are a source of both wonder and curiosity. Why do eggs come in such a spectacular variety of colors, shapes, and sizes? Why are we stuck mostly eating chicken eggs, when our ancestors feasted on emu, ostrich, and guillemot eggs? This episode, we explore the science and history of eggs, from dinosaurs to double-yolkers! (encore episode) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, June 27, 2023
Good Shit: How Humanure Could Save Agriculture—and the Planet
For most of us, when we sit on the porcelain throne to drop the deuce, priority number one is flushing and never having to think about it again. But it might be time to rethink our stink: all around the world, people are talking about using human waste for good, applying it as fertilizer to grow our food instead of just washing it down the miles of pipes that undergird urban sewage systems. "Ew" is a common response, along with "yuck!" Is using poop to grow food a good idea—or even safe? We’re getting our shit together to find out! On this episode of Gastropod, how human waste went from being so valuable you could go to jail for stealing it, to causing such a stench it shut down Parliament in Victorian London and led to the invention of the modern sewage system—and why figuring out how to start saving our poop (and pee!) once again could give us cleaner energy, healthier waterways, and lots of delicious food. Listen in now: if you like to eat, it's time to start giving a crap about your crap. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, June 20, 2023
Gettin' Fizzy With It (Encore)
'Tis the season for a refreshing glass of bubbly—but this episode we're not talking wine, we're talking seltzer. America is in the throes of a serious seltzer craze, with consumption of the bubbly stuff doubling in only a decade, from 2004 to 2014. But where does seltzer come from, and why is it called "seltzer," rather than simply "sparkling water"? Is there any truth to the rumors that seltzer can combat indigestion—or that it will rot our teeth? Why are all the hipsters crushing cans of LaCroix, and what's the story behind Polar's ephemeral sensation, Unicorn Kisses? (Encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, June 13, 2023
Who's Eating Who: Pineapples and You
What was the hottest accessory for late 1600s European dining rooms? The pineapple! Explorers had recently brought this spiky tropical fruit over from the Americas, and in short order it became the Gucci purse of its day—so exciting and desirable that it not only commanded big bucks, but led to a sort of gardening arms race to figure out how they might be grown in chilly northern Europe. In this episode, we get to the core of how this "king of fruit" inspired obsession and invention—plus, we head back to Hawai'i to learn how it transformed the islands, and, in the process, was itself transformed from an exotic rarity to a pantry-staple topping for pizza and cottage cheese. If you like piña coladas and fruits that can dissolve your skin, join us for all of the juicy details! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, June 6, 2023
You've Lost That Hungry Feeling
Whether it's via TikTok or the morning news, you’ve probably heard the recent hype (and hand-wringing) about new prescription weight-loss medications with names like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro. These drugs were originally developed to treat diabetes, but, in some patients, they've had a surprising side effect: they seem to silence feelings of hunger, leading to significant weight loss. This episode, Gastropod goes behind the headlines to ask: What is hunger, anyway? And what do we know about how to switch it on or off? Join us for a story that involves lizard saliva, synthesizer shopping, and a disorder that can lead people to eat until their stomachs burst, as we explore these universal feelings—hunger and fullness—that shape our lives, and bookend every meal. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tue, May 23, 2023
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