The Food We Eat

Listen 48:36
Thanksgiving food crossed out with red Xs

(Jeni Foto)

Thanksgiving is near, which means many families will come together with loved ones over a shared meal that celebrates abundance. But along with their appetites, guests bring their food preferences. As omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, or those interested in eating sustainably grown food gather, a meal can turn into a battleground for arguments that go way beyond what’s on the plate.

On this episode, we explore our desire to make food choices that benefit our health — and perhaps the health of the planet — and why we get so passionate about these choices. Are we taking the old saying “We are what we eat” too seriously — using our food choices as an anchor for identity? Gastroenterologist and winner of the BBC’s MasterChef competition Saliha Mahmood Ahmed describes mouth-watering ways to combine delicious flavors that promote good gut health, and why she thinks it’s perfectly fine to occasionally eat a jam-filled doughnut. Food writer Alicia Kennedy talks about her choice to become first vegan and then vegetarian, and why her family still seems to think it’s a phase.

And we visit a farm that was created with hard work, enthusiasm, and idealism: small and sustainable, with a mission to make humanely raised animal products available to many people … but a closer look reveals that things may not be idyllic as promised.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Gastroenterologist Saliha Mahmood Ahmed looks at food with the eyes of a physician and a passionate chef. In 2017, she won the high-stakes BBC MasterChef competition. She joins us to talk about eating for joy and health, and her new book, “Foodology: A Food-lover’s Guide to Digestive Health and Happiness.”
  • Food writer Alicia Kennedy explains why her family still (sometimes) thinks her choice to be a vegetarian is a phase, and why the decision to forgo meat seems to rub some people the wrong way.
  • Producer Joel Shupack talks with his partner, Jenni Goldstein, a therapist in Portland, Oregon, as she tries to redefine her relationship with food after decades of restrictive eating.
  • Actress and filmmaker Nina Womack describes her journey from eating lots of junk food to craving salads — and her effort to make healthy food available to more people through a mobile food pantry called “Let’s Be Whole.” Produced by Avishay Artsy.

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