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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—during a hard time. Then, Maddie catches up with a researcher who found a troubling decline in the use of SNAP among one group of particularly needy Americans.


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 decide whether it could happen again. And then Tim Murphy takes us to Nevada, a crucial swing state, where members of the culinary workers union have mastered the art of political organizing—and could have lessons for the Democratic party...


69 – Samin Nosrat Gets Salty

Have you ever wondered if there's a secret to salting your food to bring out its best flavor? On this episode, we catch up with chef and writer Samin Nosrat, who’s kind of an expert on the subject. Her hit cookbook, Salt Fat Acid Heat, was just turned into a riveting Netflix series. Samin tells Maddie all about making miso in Japan, and what it was like to turn her cooking advice into TV. And she schools us on how to use salt. Plus: Addicted to Lacroix sparkling water? Here’s what the wacky...


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 Valle de Guadalupe, an arid region near the coast of Baja known for its marine flavors and rocky soil. Valle’s wine renaissance has breathed life into the valley's economy and brought it worldwide attention. But in such a fragile ecosystem—the...


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 Matthew Starr, whose team has been documenting submerged farms, about the worsening situation. Then, Tom catches up with retired North Carolina poultry farmer Craig Watts, who’s seen firsthand how severe storms can lay waste to the region where...


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 today’s episode, we talk to Kelly Weill, a Daily Beast reporter who wrote about the rise of the all-meat diet in the conservative fringe. Then, University of Colorado PhD student Alexis De Coning talks about her investigation into the disturbing...


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 Lorrie Moore, and ginger ice cream sandwiches for Terry Tempest Williams. Shopping for quail with essayist David Sedaris in rural England proved awkward and anxiety-inducing. Hear Rick talk about these meals and more. Then, MoJo fellow Kari...


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 community needed healthier food, but fresh produce was too expensive. “I had what some would call a divine discontent,” he recalls. “I was so frustrated with that dynamic of seeing the food that we needed and not being able to afford it.” On...


63 – Farmers Are Growing Squash That Actually Taste 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 interesting things. And he thinks chefs and breeders should be teaming up to work on, for example, a honey nut squash that doesn’t even need maple syrup and butter. Plus: The Bite hosts say goodbye to beloved food critic Jonathan Gold.


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 income, of, say, $1000 per month for every American adult could go a long way toward reducing the toll of food insecurity, Lowrey says. Then, we’ll hear from people in a neighborhood who are arguing about whether a different group should get...


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 racial bias trainings, and more. Then, Maddie visits the kitchen of a refugee woman who fled Iraq for California five years ago. Today, she’s cooking at some of the world’s hottest restaurants. Warning: This interview may trigger intense shawarma...


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 Animals, which became a documentary, premiering June 15. Jonathan shares more about his reasons for going veggie, and reflects on talking about food choices in the age of Trump. Then we hear from the Vegan Bros, two all-American dudes who gave up...


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, “Coming to my Senses,” is a juicy memoir about her life up to the opening of her historic restaurant Chez Panisse. San Francisco Chronicle food writer Jonathan Kauffman is the author of “Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs and...


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 garden). And Ron Finley explains what it means to be a “gangster gardener.”


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 favorite podcast app, and subscribe! In the debut episode, Senior Reporter Tim Murphy profiles the candidates ripping up West Virginia’s political blueprint and asks what their successes and failures mean for national politics come November. In...


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 hungry for more detail about everyday life at the Rajneeshee Ranch. Writer Melissa Locker tells us about the group’s cookbook, Zorba the Buddha. Then Maddie talks to chef and restaurant owner Tanya Holland about the challenges of opening a...


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 talk to Aimee Lee Ball, the journalist behind the website Eat, Darling, Eat, where she collects stories about a very potent mix of topics: mothers, daughters, and food.


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 about her drinking history and how the industry courts women. Then, New York Times op-ed writer Liz Tracy reflects on what it’s like to be a sober mom in a parenting culture that’s obsessed with wine. Finally, MoJo's Becca Andrews caught up with...


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—about their reporting on how powerful men in acclaimed kitchens abused their power. And San Francisco restaurateur Karen Leibowitz tells us how she’s trying to stop harassment in her kitchen before it begins. Plus, we hear from you, our...


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 edibles with the San Francisco Chronicle’s David Downs, one of the few cannabis news editors in the country. “You bet FritoLay is going to get in this space,” Downs said—“they recognize the writing on the wall.”