Food is such a personal and universal topic – everybody eats – and yet there is so much we don’t know about it, from the origins of certain wine grapes to the state of animal welfare on industrial farms. We bring you five podcasts that dig into the larger stories behind what we eat and sup, each with a slightly different flavour.
When American co-hosts Aubrey Gordon, who lives in Portland, Oregon, and Michael Hobbes, who is based in Berlin, set out to debunk the junk science behind a health fad or challenge some kernel of conventional wisdom on nutrition, they do the research. As a result, listening to Maintenance Phase, their wildly popular podcast that covers topics ranging from the keto diet to body mass, feels like eavesdropping on a conversation between two of your smartest friends, one meticulously recounting their latest obsession as the other reacts in real time – often with deadpan humour or outrage – to this new knowledge. At times funny, at times sobering, the hour-long episodes are like a perfectly paced multi-course meal.
Recommended episode: The Trouble With Calories (24 May 2022) digs into the surprisingly complex science behind an ostensibly simple calculation. (Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or Spotify)
This policy-focused podcast is produced by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, so it is no surprise that initiatives and projects funded by the European Union feature prominently. But the bite-sized episodes, which are hosted by Brit Paul Anderson and Belgian Patrick Delfosse and released in English, French and German, incorporate the voices of farmers and researchers in addition to policymakers, giving a broad overview of where various stakeholders stand on matters. Topics range from timely issues – including fertilisers and pesticides – to lighter fare such as geographical indications and sustainable holiday foods.
Recommended episode: In the lead up to the holidays, it is worth revisiting last year’s #Christmas: What about a sustainable Christmas? (21 December 2021), which features stories of people – including butchers in Brussels, a master chocolatier and an oyster farmer in France – making festive foods sustainably. (Listen on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Google Podcasts or Spotify)
Although Climavores is a new podcast, its co-hosts are both experienced journalists: Tamar Haspel writes about food and science for The Washington Post and Mike Grunwald has been reporting on the climate and politics for more than a decade. Together, these two Americans tackle the increasingly pertinent question of how to eat for a changing planet. Rather than veer into the prescriptive, their conversations revolve around how the food we eat affects the climate, approaching controversial topics – plant-based meat, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and processed foods – in a no-nonsense, informative manner that actively engages with the many complexities and trade-offs.
Recommended episode: Are GMOs the worst? Or the best? (26 October 2022) examines why this topic is so polarised and digs into the nutritional and health facts of GMOs and advances in genetic engineering. (Listen on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts or Spotify)
Of the four podcasts currently produced by VinePair, a New York-based digital media company focused on drinks culture and important topics in wine, beer and spirits, Wine 101 is the most entry level – but that’s not a bad thing. The easily digestible episodes, which usually run 20 minutes or under, break down the basics of how wine is made and offer primers on the many wine regions across the globe. Host Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, enthuses in a very American way (we lost count of the number of times he said “amazing” in a recent episode), but this quirk is more endearing than not, and makes newbies feel welcome in the sometimes rarefied world of wine.
Recommended episode: The History of Sparkling Wine (13 July 2022) explores the murky, mythical history of bubbly. (Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify)
Produced by young activists from around the globe, the Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN) podcast has an eclectic catalogue dating back to 2020. The latest series under this umbrella – Slow Food Goes Brussels – delves into hot-button issues in European agri-food policy. French host Alice Poiron intersperses vignettes from researchers and farmers with commentary on the topics at hand, underlining the policy arguments put forth by Slow Food – an influential international food association and movement rooted in the belief that food systems should be sustainable from an environmental, economic and socio-cultural perspective.
Recommended episode: The Global Food Crisis Explained (25 July 2022) questions the necessity of prioritising increased food production over the implementation of environmental regulations. (Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify)