April 6, 2013 6:32 pm
How long could you live on just Diet Coke? Why do vegans do better in non-industrial cultures than in industrial ones? Could we really fund a mission to Mars on the money that obesity costs the US each year?
No, it’s not an episode of Cosmic Queries. It’s A Seat at the Table with Anthony Bourdain, and believe me, you will definitely learn a few juicy facts about food, nutrition, cuisine and culture.
In Part 1, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts a multifaceted exploration of cuisine and nutrition, mostly because his guests Anthony Bourdain and Marion Nestle come at food from two different directions.
A celebrity chef, author and world traveler, Anthony explains how getting a job in the food industry and writing his first book changed his life and gave him the freedom to see the world. It’s also given him a wide-ranging understanding of the role food plays in people’s lives. He describes some of the most disgusting things he’s ever eaten, and how desirable flavors and textures vary from culture to culture. For instance, did you know that in the Philippines they add bile to some dishes to achieve a bitterness we tend to dislike here in the U.S.? His descriptions are heavily flavored with personal experience, and in some cases, you can feel yourself gagging on their realism. He and Neil also discuss the business of food, the worldwide embracing of fast food culture, and the impact that regional diets have on health.
Marion Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, as well as a professor of Sociology. She focuses more on the scientific aspects of nutrition and diet, such as the way that evolution and physiology encourage us to make unhealthy food choices. Together with Marion, Neil and co-host Eugene Mirman touch on some of the more political aspects of food in America, from corn and soy subsidies to NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s attempt to limit the serving size of soda. Marion discusses cultural relativism and the nutrition transition occurring in developing countries, from the older problem of hunger to the newer problem of Type 2 Diabetes.
Thanks to these differing perspectives, the episode provides a rich and well-balanced meal of science and personal experience. And this is just Part 1. Part 2 will be available next Sunday night.
A Seat at the Table with Anthony Bourdain (Part 1) will be available here on our website and iTunes this Sunday, April 7th, at 7:00pm ET.
That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!