TRANSCRIPT The End of the Calorie

This is a transcript of the Gastropod episode, The End of the Calorie, first released on January 26, 2016. It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.

TARA HAELLE: I don’t really buy into this “a calorie is a calorie” thing.

DAVID WISHART: In the end, and I guess this is sort of treating it as a chemist, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. It’s a unit of energy.

SUSAN ROBERTS: I think all calories are not the same when it comes to how satisfying they are.

MARION NESTLE: You can’t count calories anyway. It’s not really possible for anybody who’s just an eater to figure out how many calories you’re eating.

RICHARD WRANGHAM: The calorie is the only darn thing we’ve got in this game at the moment, isn’t it? But it gives us a sort of unfair sense of precision. The calorie is a somewhat dangerous item because it leads us to thinking that we’ve solved the problems when in fact we haven’t.

NICOLA TWILLEY: Hello and welcome back! This is the first episode of a new season of Gastropod, the podcast that looks at food through the lens of science and history. I’m Nicola Twilley.

CYNTHIA GRABER: And I’m Cynthia Graber. And I bet you listeners have no idea what we’re going to be covering in this episode.

TWILLEY: Seriously, if you can’t guess already, then go get yourself a coffee and take this again from the top.

The End of the Calorie

For most of us, the calorie is just a number on the back of the packet or on the display at the gym. But what is it, exactly? And how did we end up with this one unit with which to measure our food? Is a calorie the same no matter what type of food it comes from? And is one calorie for you exactly the same as one calorie for me? To find out, we visit the special rooms scientists use to measure how many calories we burn, and the labs where researchers are discovering that the calorie is broken. And we pose the question: If not the calorie, then what?


TRANSCRIPT Sweet and Low (Calorie): The Story of Artificial Sweeteners

This is a transcript of the Gastropod episode Sweet and Low (Calorie): The Story of Artificial Sweeteners, first released on January 15, 2019. It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.

MATT LAUER: A lot of people opt for diet drinks thinking they’re doing something better for them, it’s a better option—well a new study is now calling into question.

DR. OZ: Very provocative. Big study, thousands of people followed over years. Let me break it down for you. Specifically, what they looked at was often they had strokes: 3 times more likely than normal.

DR. MARK HYMAN: There’s been mounds of research that artificial sweeteners—both in human studies, animal studies, experimental studies, population studies—is bad news. So let me share with you what’s going on. First, they are linked to obesity. So, number one, it makes you fat. Number two, it does it by rewiring and screwing up your brain chemistry and your metabolism.

Sweet and Low (Calorie): The Story of Artificial Sweeteners

For decades, ads for treats sweetened with substances like Sweet'N Low, NutraSweet, and Splenda have promised what seems like a miracle of modern science: that you can enjoy all the dessert you want, calorie-free. No need to deprive yourself—with artificial sweeteners, you can literally have your cake and eat it, too. But are these substances safe? Don't they give cancer to rats and mess up your metabolism? Listen in now for answers to all these questions, plus the tale of a sugar-free gumball marketing blitz, courtesy of none other than Donald Rumsfeld. …More

Cannibalism: From Calories to Kuru TRANSCRIPT

This is a transcript of the Gastropod episode Cannibalism: From Calories to Kuru, first released on October 24, 2017. It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.


TWILLEY: So if you know this famous clip from “The Silence of the Lambs,” you will know that this episode, we could be discussing one of three things. Chianti. Fava beans. Or…

GRABER: Oh how I wish we were discussing chianti or fava beans. But no, this episode, we’re all about cannibalism. Happy Halloween!

Cannibalism: From Calories to Kuru

For most of us, it's unthinkable: human is never what's for dinner. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but this episode, we discover that not only is cannibalism widespread throughout the natural world, but it's also much more common among our own kind than we like to think. Spiders and sharks do it; so have both ancient and modern humans. So why does it sometimes make sense to snack on your own species—and what are the downsides? From Hannibal Lecter to the Donner party, cannibals are now the subject of morbid fascination and disgust—but how did eating each other become such a taboo? Join us this episode for our Halloween special: the science and history of cannibalism!


Hotbox: The Oven From Turnspit Dogs to Microwaves

Humans are the only animals that cook their food, an innovation that changed the course of our evolution and the trajectory of the planet. But how did we tame those early cooking fires and put them in a box—and what can subsequent leaps forward in heating technology tell us about cuisines and culture? This episode, we're taking you on a whirlwind tour through oven history and science, from the legendary roast beef of Old England—and the special dogs bred to turn the spits on which it hung—to the curious origins of the microwave in military radar technology. What do we gain and lose when our ovens change—and how might understanding that help with the quest to bring better cookstoves to the developing world?


We Heart Chocolate TRANSCRIPT

This is a transcript of the Gastropod episode We Heart Chocolate, first released on January 31, 2017. It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.

CARLA MARTIN: One bit of trivia about this is even in the present day, women each week of the year are the biggest buyers of chocolate except for one week, and that’s the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

NICOLA TWILLEY: That’s right, ever since Richard Cadbury put chocolates in a heart shaped box for February 14, way back in 1861, this stupid Hallmark holiday has been associated with one of my favorite substances.

CYNTHIA GRABER: Chocolate! One of mine, too, though I am with you, Nicky, about the holiday. Still, any excuse to eat chocolate is all good by me. It might not be Valentine’s Day quite yet, but the shelves are already stocked.

TWILLEY: And so we at Gastropod are here, as always, to equip you with all the weird chocolate science and history your heart desires. So: Heart-shaped boxes are one thing, but is chocolate really good for your actual heart? And why would you spend $18 dollars on a fancy single origin bar when you can get a chocolate hit for just a couple of bucks at the supermarket?

GRABER: And to get to the heart of the story, how did chocolate conquer the world? And is it true that we might be facing a chocolate-free future?

TRANSCRIPT The Microbe Revolution

This is a transcript of the Gastropod episode, The Microbe Revolution, first released on Nov. 11, 2014. It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.

NICOLA TWILLEY: Hello and welcome to Gastropod! I’m Nicola Twilley—

CYNTHIA GRABER: And I’m Cynthia Graber. And as usual, we’re here to share fascinating tales about the science and history of food. This week, we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about a vegetable called a cassava.

TWILLEY: You may not have heard of it—but according to Bill Gates, it is the world’s most interesting vegetable. He also called it the stud of the vegetable world.

GRABER: The stud?


TRANSCRIPT Where There’s Smoke, There’s … Whiskey, Fish, and Barbecue!

This is a transcript of the Gastropod episode, Where There’s Smoke, There’s … Whiskey, Fish, and Barbecue!, first released on March 30, 2021. It is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.


CYNTHIA GRABER: We are at the Boston Smoked Fish headquarters, and a huge rack of maybe a dozen trays of gorgeous, golden brown smoked salmon just rolled by.

MATT BAUMANN: It came out of the smoker just about an hour ago. So we’re about 2500 square feet of fish processing space here. And we’re smoking five to six times a week. So you’re always going to smell these wonderful aromas of the cherry and pecan woods that we use. The pecan would really gives kind of a nice, unctuous bacon-y flavor to the fish. And then at the end we finish it off with cherry, which has a really nice sweet, floral bouquet.

NICOLA TWILLEY: Oh god, I love smoked fish. Please tell me this is an episode all about smoked fish where all we do is eat smoked fish?

GRABER: I wish, I did at least get to smell the smoking fish and let me tell you, that cherry and pecan wood smoke, with the unctuousness of the fish? I was salivating throughout the whole visit. I wish I’d spent the whole time eating.

TWILLEY: Smoke makes everything taste great. Smoked fish, smoky mezcal, my personal favorite flavor of crisp—smoky bacon. But why is smoke so delicious?

GRABER: This is actually a question that one of our listeners and supporters asked us, too.