I stumbled on the Real Food Reads podcast as I was looking for new podcasts to listen to during my work commute. Before subscribing, I listened to the first episode called Soda Politics where then-host Anna Lappé interviews Marion Nestle of the book “Soda Politics: Taking On Big Soda (and Winning)” about the history of soda, marketing and philanthropy, and how it insidiously works its way into our lives. Each episode expands on the meaning of food within a broader socio-economic and cultural context – making this podcast one of the most informative and interesting podcasts I have listened to thus far.
How the podcast started
The Real Food Reads podcast, an offshoot of the Real Food Media brand, began in 2016 as a monthly podcast and has an average run time between 30 and 40 minutes. The podcast was originally started and hosted by Anna Lappé, co-founder of Real Food Media, until 2019. In each episode, the host interviews the author of a recommended book and dives deep into the questions posed and answered within.
Typically episodes will focus on the food from the book and talk about its broader meaning within a cultural, economic, or political context. This series isn’t solely about food. It is so much more – just like food is so much more than something we eat to sustain ourselves.
Who is this podcast for?
This podcast is for foodies, environmentalists and, really, anyone who cares about what they eat. Once you start to think differently about food, consider where it comes from, and care about what you are consuming, you will inevitably begin to question the food systems that feed us. What does world hunger really look like when you find out in “World Hunger – 10 Myths” that the problem isn’t a lack of food but rather, a lack of access to nutritious, quality food in poorer areas and developing countries.
What does the Real Food Reads Podcast talk about?
In the most general terms, the Real Food Reads podcast talks about food – how we grow it, what is in modern food, the problem with hunger, how the culture of breastfeeding defeats women before they start, sustainability, colonization, racism, global warming, and meat consumption.
The podcast hosts and interviewees are not afraid to broach difficult and complicated topics and admit they don’t have the answers. This podcast is incredibly refreshing to listen to. Most “foodie” podcasts concentrate merely on the food, at the expense of the bigger and broader picture. If we don’t learn how our food affects our culture, planet, and people, we can’t change it.
Do you have to be well-versed in politics, economics, or the intricacies of racism in everyday life? No. I wasn’t particularly interested in any of these topics growing up and I can listen, absorb, and begin to grapple with difficult and complicated topics. The questions are approachable and the answers by interviewees really speak to the average person who may not be so engaged in their daily life.
Do you have to read the books to learn something?
Here’s the thing: I haven’t (yet!) read a single book discussed on this podcast. I can still engage and learn something during the listening process because of the hosts’ skill and the interviewees’ clear answers. The awesome part about this podcast is you can dip your toes into a potential new book, see if it piques your interest, and then decide – all in less than an hour of your time. I recognize not all of my readers may have the time or inclination to read an entire book about a seemingly esoteric topic like sugar, but you can still broaden your food perspective, learn something new, and be entertained by Real Food Reads.
Why you should listen
If you are a busy person and reading is not a part of your daily routine, this podcast is for you. It gives a good introduction to a variety of issues in the food world like reducing food waste, combating world hunger, and talking about the culture of breastfeeding for women. When I first listened to the episode on the politics of breastfeeding, called “The Big Letdown with Kimberly Seals Allers”, I almost skipped over it. I don’t have children and I figured it wouldn’t interest me – I was wrong. At first, I was confused why Anna was talking about motherhood and breast milk until I remembered that it is a valid source of food. It may seem overly simple to say it was a revelation for me, but it was. This example is just one way how the Real Food Reads podcast can help you think about food (all kinds) in a way that you have never considered.
My favourite Real Food Reads podcast episodes
I am currently working my way through the episodes from 2018 but some of my favourite episodes from 2016 and 2017 are:
Soda Politics with Marion Nestle – about soda, its effect on our diets, and how corporations use seemingly “philanthropic” efforts to fund health organizations.
Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook with Dana Gunders – about food waste and how we can reduce it in our own homes.
Changing Season with Mas & Nikiko Masumoto – about what it’s like as a peach farmer, working as a father-daughter team, and the meaning of identity and history.
Big Hunger with Andy Fisher – about the organizations funding anti-hunger groups, corporate philanthropy, and the problem of hunger worldwide.
Want to read the books? Join the book club!
If you are interested in the Real Food Reads podcast and interested in reading the recommended books, you can join or host the book club! Currently it meets virtually. As a book club host, you can organize and meet with other foodies in your local area. To join the book club, follow this link for more information from Real Food Media.
Do you have a favourite food podcast that you would like to recommend? Comment below or share your thoughts on IG with me! Have you been inspired to listen to the Real Food Reads Podcast? Post a story and tag @finnyfromscratch and @realfoodmedia on Instagram!