That’s a sporkful: A podcast for the eater

The political, social and environmental conditions under which people reside often determine how people relate to and consume food. By studying food, we learn about people. This is essentially the narrative of Dan Pashman’s podcast  “The Sporkful.”  Every Tuesday, Dan releases an average 35 minute podcast episode featuring a wide range of guests from neuroscientists studying the geometry of pizza to an inter-ethnic marriage between a meat and potatoes loving white girl and an Indian vegetarian. He prefaces Sporkful-Podcast-Logoeach of his episodes with the identifying phrase, “This is The Sporkful. It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters.”

Since his initial episode release in January of 2010, Dan has gained widespread recognition from members of the Today Show, NPR’s Morning Edition and All things Considered, Food Network and the History Channel – just to name a few-  for his thoughtful discussions about race, culture and body image as it pertains to food. His podcast does not have a depressing approach to these discussions, however. Rather, the comedic undertones of his episodes allow for the listener to engage with the content in a lighthearted manner while walking away feeling as though they have a better understanding of ways to approach complex social issues.

The Sporkful is primarily financed by Stitcher/Midroll, yet makes its weekly appearance on the New York public radio station WNYC where Dan records his episodes. In an interview with Tufts University, Dan discussed starting his journey in October of 2009 out of inspiration from the somewhat pretentious and mindless food media being produced. There was no dialogue about what food dan pashmanmeans. After dabbling in various broadcast and satellite radio gigs, Dan joined friends who were learning the ropes of podcast production before podcasts blew up. This is where he truly saw a market that allowed him to invest his personality.

This is what differentiates podcasts from radio. According to Richard Berry’s journal, “Podcasting: Considering the evolution of the medium and its association with the word ‘radio’,” the podcasting content is much more niche than radio which must adhere to commercial or public formats (Berry 11). Ben has chosen to nerd out on the fine details of food consumption and production in a way that radio would not necessarily buy into. Relating food to people and people to food in a quite political way would be risky for radio companies to invest in, yet podcasts have marketed on the commercial limitations of radio companies to present often comedic, educational content (Berry 17).

The variation in the times of each of Dan’s podcast also lends itself to the ways in which podcasts differ from radio. Rather than being confined to an arbitrary time slot or schedule, as suggested by Berry, the podcaster can tell his or her story in the best, most articulate way (Berry 16). This allows for a listener to access the podcast at their leisure rather than tune in during the middle of a segment. Dan’s listeners can tune into New York public radio (WNYC) or access his podcasts via Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher or WNYC’s website.

Listeners can donate to his production on his website where they can also purchase his latest book or watch his web series produced by the Cooking Channel titled  You’re Eating it Wrong. He is currently in the process of creating another animated, food based project called The Snackdown which can also be accessed on the Cooking Channel.

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