Nicola Twilley is a writer based in New York. She is a co-hosts of the podcast Gastropod and a contributor to The New Yorker. She also runs the blog Edible Geography.
Our glaciers are melting, our forests are on fire, our harvests are increasingly decimated by either floods and drought. We are in a climate emergency that threatens our very survival, and it is, frankly, incredibly depressing. But this episode, we’ve got the story of one of the most exciting, seemingly feasible efforts to reduce atmospheric carbon—by storing it in the soil. The solution involves refreshing beer, crusty bread, and sweet, crunchy broccoli—and a complete reinvention of modern agriculture, including domesticating entirely new crops. And the impact could be huge: because a third of Earth’s ice-free surface is farmland, scientists say that banking just a tiny bit more carbon beneath our fields would help remove billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Join us this episode on our quest to discover how switching to no-till, regenerative agriculture and breeding brand new perennial crops can help restock soil carbon, produce delicious grains and greens, and—maybe—save the world. Episode Notes Asmeret Asafaw Berhe Dr. Berhe is a soil biogeochemist at the University of California, Merced. You can learn more about her research in her 2019 TED talk, “A climate change solution that’s right under our feet.” Assawaga Farm Yoko Takemura and Alex Carpenter grow delicious organic, no-till vegetables on three-quarters of an acre in Connecticut. You can read more about Assawaga Farm on their website, and buy their produce at Boston-area farmers markets. Assawaga Farm in October 2019. Photo by Nicola Twilley. Kernza and The Land Institute The Land Institute is a nonprofit agricultural research organization based in Salina, Kansas. We visited with director of research Tim Crews, as well as the lead scientist on the kernza domestication program, Lee DeHaan. You can read much more about their perennial crop research and kernza on their website, and then try kernza yourself in Patagonia Provisions’ Long Root Pale Ale. Kernza bread and kernza plants in October, 2019. Photo by Nicola Twilley. 4 per 1000 initiative Read more about the 4 per 1000 initiative here, including the science behind its goals and its network of international partners and programs. Gastropod Summer 2020 Fellowship Find out more about Summer 2020 Fellowship program and apply here. The post To Fight Climate Change, Bank on Soil appeared first on Gastropod.
Just a few decades ago, gin & tonics were considered rather stodgy and boring, the drink of suburbanites at the golf club. Today, the century-old drink is hot again. In part, that’s due to a boom in craft gin distilling—a ginaissance! But there’s also been a new wave of experimentation with gin’s life partner, tonic water. This episode, we focus on the tonic side of the equation. Which genius came up with the idea of combining quinine, a malaria drug, with soda water and sugar in order to create this refreshing beverage? How did the bark of a South American tree end up in everything from hair-restoring shampoo to cocktails? And is it true that the G&T began life as a pleasant way for the Anglo-Indian elite to take their anti-malarials? This episode, we take a sip of tonic’s history with Kim Walker and Mark Nesbitt, authors of the new book Just the Tonic: A Natural History of Tonic Water. Listen in for all that, plus beef-infused tonic wines, Aperol spritzes, and the gin & tonic’s true origin story. Cheers! Episode Notes Just the Tonic Kim Walker and Mark Nesbitt are the authors of the new book, Just the Tonic, A Natural History of Tonic Water, published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It’s filled with gorgeous botanical drawings and amazing old advertisements, as well as suggestions for how to expand your tonic menu beyond its partnership with gin. In addition to trying out some of their recipes (we look forward to tasting them ourselves!), we do recommend branching out past the standard tonic waters like Schweppes and Canada Dry, and trying some of the new, artisanal tonic waters available. They’re delicious! Left: A small cinchona tree in Kew’s greenhouse; Right: a close-up of the cinchona flowers. Photograph by Nicola Twilley. Left: Portrait of Sir Clements Markham, via the Royal Geographical Society with IBG; Center: Botanical illustration of cinchona, via Kew Royal Botanic Gardens; Right: Cinchona bark harvesting, via Photograph collection of John Abercromby Alexander. A small selection of Mark and Kim’s tonic collection in their office at Kew. Photograph by Nicola Twilley. Don’t Try This At Home Kim made her own tonic from cinchona bark, and cinchona bark is certainly available for purchase. She cautioned, though, that it’s easy to far exceed the levels of quinine that are considered safe. Kim didn’t want to reveal her secrets on air, but we did promise you we’d share them here. If you decide to try this, please please be careful. At very low doses, quinine is a delicious bitter addition to drinks. At medium low doses, it’s a medicine that can come with some really serious side effects. At high doses, it’s a poison. Kim mentioned the recipe on Camper English’s Alcademics website as a trustworthy place to start, but, please (we cannot say this enough) BE CAREFUL! Kim holding her cinchona bark extract to admire the reddish color. Photograph by Nicola Twilley. The Craft of Science Writing Interested in trying your hand at science writing? The Open Notebook is a nonprofit that, for the past decade, has published more than a hundred articles, all about how to sharpen your science writing skills. And now they’ve published their first book: The Craft of Science Writing! It’s got 30 chapters, with everything from how to get started in the field, to how to pitch stories and do the reporting, all the way through how to write a great ending. We highly recommend it! Filling the Void As Nicky mentioned, she wrote the cover story for the March 2020 issue of Wired… and it’s all about space food! To research the piece, she ate boba pearls while floating in zero-G, but also spoke to the scientists, designers, and astronauts who are creating a future of flavors, cooking techniques, and dining rituals that are space-native—and only possible in micro-gravity. You can read the story online here; it’s on newsstands on February 18. The post Move Over Gin, We’ve Got Tonic Fever appeared first on Gastropod.
McDonald’s is mind-boggling. According to Adam Chandler, author of the recent book, Drive-Thru Dreams, it sells roughly 75 burgers every second and serves 68 million people every day—equivalent to 1 percent of the entire world’s population. “The golden arches are thought to be, according to an independent survey, more recognizable as a symbol than the Christian cross is around the world,” Chandler told us. This episode, we tell the story of McDonald’s—but more importantly, we explore what it has to say about who we are. To do that, we’re also joined by historian Marcia Chatelain, author of the new book Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, who helps us unpack the troubled but fascinating relationship between McDonald’s and African Americans. Why did taxpayers end up funding the spread of McDonald’s into the inner city “food deserts” it now dominates? Who invented the hamburger and how did it become America’s national cuisine? From a bustling barbecue stand in San Bernardino to Ray Kroc’s location-scouting airplane rides, and from the McNugget to the McJob, this episode we figure out how McDonald’s became so ubiquitous, and what that means for America. Episode Notes Marcia Chatelain and Franchise Marcia Chatelain is associate professor of history and African-American studies at Georgetown University, and author of the new book, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. Adam Chandler and Drive-Thru Dreams Adam Chandler is a journalist based in New York, and author of Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America’s Fast-Food Kingdom. Transcript For a transcript of the show, please click here. Please note that the transcript is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors The post The United States of McDonald’s appeared first on Gastropod.
Across America, feral pigs are on the rampage, wrecking fields of crops, hunting local wildlife to extinction, and even attacking humans. In the United Kingdom, Japanese knotweed is taking over the landscape: banks deny mortgages to infested properties, and the government regulates its disposal with the same precautions it takes for low-level nuclear waste. Humans are to blame—we introduced invasive species such as these to their new homes. But some conservation biologists and chefs think humans can also be the solution: by eating the invaders. Are we ready for a menu of Asian shore crab and bullfrogs—and can our appetite really make a difference, or might the approach lead to unforeseen consequences? This episode, we forage an invasive menu with chef Bun Lai, and then argue the case with conservation biologists Joe Roman and Sara Kuebbing. Listen in now! Bun Lai foraging for invasive garlic mustard and other salad leaves as Cynthia records. Photo by Nicola Twilley. Episode Notes Bun Lai Bun Lai is the chef and owner of Miya’s Sushi, in New Haven, Connecticut, and one of the chefs at the forefront of both the sustainable sushi movement and the effort to include invasives in our diets. Bun’s food is both thoughtful and truly delicious—but, if you want to check Miya’s Sushi out, you only have a year to do so! We recently read the news that he plans to close by the end of 2020, to move onto new projects. Of course, we wish him the best of luck, but we also wish all of you a taste of his cooking. If you are ever in the neighborhood, we recommend it! Wild boar sushi with a side of cannonball jellyfish, prepared by chef Bun Lai. Photo by Nicola Twilley. Sara Kuebbing Sara Kuebbing is a conservation biologist at the University of Pittsburgh who studies the ways in which nonnative, invasive plants interact with native plant species within an ecosystem. She co-authored an Ensia opinion piece titled “Why Eating Invasive Species is a Bad Idea.” Joe Roman Joe Roman is a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont. He was perhaps the earliest promoter of the movement to eat invasive species, as well as the most prominent. His Eat the Invaders website is a great source of information on the topic (this link about when different species were introduced into the US is fascinating!), and it’s the perfect place to look for edible invasives that might be growing in your neighborhood. Bun Lai, Cynthia Graber, and Bun’s knotweed vinegar. Photo by Nicola Twilley. Anders Halverson’s An Entirely Synthetic Fish In the episode, Nicky mentions her favorite invasive story, which involves rivers being aerially bombarded with rainbow trout. Author Anders Halverson tells the incredible tale of the rainbow trout’s human-assisted takeover and its disastrous consequences in his book, An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World—it’s a fascinating read. Transcript For a transcript of the show, please click here. Please note that the transcript is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors The post Dinner Plate Invasion: Lionfish, Tiger Shrimp, and Feral Pigs, Oh My! appeared first on Gastropod.
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Creator Details

Episode Count
128
Podcast Count
1
Total Airtime
3 days, 17 hours