A Burger a Day: A New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Marketplace podcast is called “A Burger A Day.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript).

A while back, we posted an e-mail on this blog from a reader named Ralph Thomas:

It has been my gut-level (sorry, pun) feeling for a while now that the McDonald’s McDouble, at 390 Calories, 23g (half a daily serving) of protein, 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and iron, etc., is the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.

This is the kind of statement that most people cannot help but argue with, in one direction or the other (but yeah, mostly in one direction). Is the McDouble really the modern miracle that Thomas suggests, or a food abomination, a perfect symbol of the over-engineered, overabundant food cycle we're trapped in?

You Eat What You Are

Season 3, Episode 2

Americans are in the midst of a food paradox: we have access to more and better and cheaper food than ever before but at the same time, we are surrounded by junk food and a rise in obesity and heart disease.  In this hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner talks about our massive but balky food network with economist Tyler Cowen, who argues that agribusiness and commercialization are not nearly the villains that your foodie friends might have you think. We also hear from food author/philosopher Michael Pollan, who weighs in on a number of food topics and urges, along with chef Alice Waters, a renewed appreciation for the American farmer.  

You Eat What You Are, Pt. 2: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our previous podcast, "You Eat What You Are, Pt. 1,"explored how American food got so bad, how it’s begun to get much better, and who has the answers for further improvement.

Now it's time for "You Eat What You Are, Part 2." (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

In this installment, we look at the challenge of feeding 7 billion people while protecting the environment, especially from all the pollution associated with the long-distance transportation of all that food. In that regard, it would seem that going local is a no-brainer -- until you start to look at the numbers. 

We begin with David Cleveland, an environmental studies professor at U.C.-Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara County grows $1.2 billion worth of produce a year, putting it in the top 1 percent of U.S. counties. Cleveland started out simply trying to learn how much of the produce consumed locally was also produced locally:


CLEVELAND
: This is what really shocked us: we found that when you added up all these different ways in which locally grown produce got to people in Santa Barbara County, that less than five percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed in Santa Barbara County were actually grown in Santa Barbara County, and the other ninety-five percent were imported.

You Eat What You Are, Part 1: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “You Eat What You Are, Part 1" (Download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

It's about how American food got so bad, how it's begun to get much better in recent years, and who has the answers for further improvement.

We begin at Union Square Green Market in New York City, a rustic oasis in the heart of the city, where Berkshire Berries has wonderful jams, Windfall Farms offers a cornucopia of greens, and Hudson Valley Duck Farm does all kinds of things with the modest duck. We also channel John McPhee and his wonderful essay "Giving Good Weight."

But how much can the farmer's market solve America's food problems?

Eating and Tweeting: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Season 2, Episode 4

We have just released our second series of five one-hour Freakonomics Radio specials to public-radio stations across the country. (Check here to find your local station.) Now these episodes are hitting our podcast stream as well. These shows are what might best be called “mashupdates” — that is, mashups of earlier podcasts with new interviews.

This week: "Eating and Tweeting." (You download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below).

The Tale of the $15 Tomato: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “The Tale of the $15 Tomato.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) In it, you'll hear Steve Levitt talk about his favorite foods (hint: most of them can be obtained via a drive-thru window); a surprisingly agrarian feature of his childhood; and his wildly unsuccessful effort to get his kids enthusiastic about agriculture.

As trivial as all that may sound, there is in fact a larger point to the podcast. As we once wrote in a Times column, modern and relatively well-off Americans spend a lot of time voluntarily performing the sort of menial labor (growing, baking, brewing, knitting, etc.) that our grandparents would likely have loved to not have to perform.

Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1 of our "Waiter, There's a Physicist in My Soup!" podcast, we looked at the movement to bring more science into the kitchen, embodied by the efforts of physicist/chef/inventor Nathan Myhrvold and his forthcoming cookbook Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. We also heard from Alice Waters, the champion of organic and slow food, who thinks we need to get back to basics, with less technology in our food.

In Part 2, we get out of the kitchen and take a broader look at the past, present and future of food science.

Waiter, There’s a Physicist In My Soup, Part I

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast (you can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the link in box at right or read a transcript here) is called "Waiter, There's a Physicist in My Soup." It's the first segment of a two-parter about food and food science; it's also about why we eat what we eat, and how that may change in the future. The first episode takes a look at the "molecular gastronomy" movement, which gets a big bump in visibility next month with the publication of a mammoth cookbook called Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Its principal author is Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft who now runs an invention company called Intellectual Ventures.