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.

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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.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-12-12 22:48
last episode published
2019-11-28 08:00
publication frequency
13.64 days
Mother Jones owner  
Tom Philpott, Kiera Butler, Maddie Oatman author  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture Food News & Politics Arts



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

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 an...

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...

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 agricu...

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...

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 t...

Trailer - Eating in Climate Chaos

Get ready for a special series from Bite, "Eating in Climate Chaos," out on October 4.

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 b...

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 th...

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.

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 recip...

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 cu...

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 delic...

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 disco...

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 h...

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...

83 – A Farmer's Tips for Making Vegetables Taste Amazing

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 dish...

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 atte...

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...

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 co...

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 ...

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 Jonath...

77 – Pixar 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...

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 revea...

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 Murph...

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, th...

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 d...

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...

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 want...

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...

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 de...

69 – Samin Nosrat Gets Salty


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 Va...

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 ...

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 t...

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 L...

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 c...

63 – Farmers Are Growing Squash That Actually Tastes 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 intere...

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 inco...

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 ra...

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 Anima...

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, ...

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 ga...

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 favori...

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 ...

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 ...

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 a...

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—...

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 edi...

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 yo...

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...