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Around the Table: Food Stories from Science to Everyday Life

Around the Table: Food Stories from Science to Everyday Life

By Dr. Tess Bird and Prof. Stanley Ulijaszek
Around the Table is a podcast from Stanley Ulijaszek, Professor of Human Ecology at the University of Oxford and Director of UBVO, and Dr. Tess Bird, an anthropologist of household uncertainty and wellbeing. We interview nutrition, food, and health experts as well as everyday households from around the world, filling in some of the gaps between scientific knowledge and everyday practice.
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Season Two Introduction

Around the Table: Food Stories from Science to Everyday Life

Anthropologist Sabine Parrish talks Coffee
Sabine Parrish (, a doctoral candidate and anthropologist at the University of Oxford, describes how an unsavory gendered comment while working as a barista triggered her research into coffee and coffee shops. She discusses coffee in relation to sociality and gender, nutrition, and coffee competitions in the US and Brazil. She also co-owns a coffee shop in Cardiff, Wales. Check it out at and follow and on Instagram and @sabinebeans and @meccoffeeltd on Twitter! 
September 15, 2020
At Home with Tess: Can you really reduce your family's sugar consumption?
In this episode, Tess talks with Dr. Emily Ventura, co-author of the new book Sugarproof: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do, and a mother and daughter in Washington state who have tested out some of the Sugarproof techniques and recipes.  This episode follows Thursday's, where Stanley interviews Prof. Michael Goran and Dr. Emily Ventura about Sugarproof. If you haven't listened in, start there! For more info, visit: and You can also follow them on Instagram @sugarproofkids; Facebook @sugarproofkids; and Prof. Goran on Twitter: @michaelgoran
September 5, 2020
Prof. Michael Goran and Dr. Emily Ventura on "Sugarproofing" the Family
In this episode, Stanley talks with Prof. Michael Goran and Dr. Emily Ventura, PhD, MPH, about their new book Sugarproof: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do. They give a comprehensive overview of some of the risks of sugar consumption in childhood as well as practical tips and techniques for reducing sugar consumption in the family. Stay tuned for a follow-up episode, released over the weekend, where Tess and Dr. Emily Ventura interview a mother and daughter in Washington state who tried some of the Sugarproof techniques and recipes. Dr. Goran is one of the world's most widely recognized experts in childhood nutrition and obesity research, with more than 30 years of experience as a researcher, mentor, and educator. He is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Co-Director of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute and leads the Program in Diabetes and Obesity at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Dr. Ventura is an experienced nutrition educator, public health advocate, writer, and cook. After working in writing and public relations in the arenas of environmental protection and food, she completed her Master's in Public Health and Doctorate of Philosophy in Health Behavior Research at the University of Southern California. For more info, visit: and You can also follow them on Instagram @sugarproofkids; Facebook @sugarproofkids; and Prof. Goran on Twitter: @michaelgoran 
September 3, 2020
Nutritional Epidemiologist Esther González-Padilla on Sugar and Micronutrient Dilution
Dr. Esther González-Padilla is a nutritional epidemiologist at Lund University in Sweden. In this interview with Stanley, she talks about sugar and micronutrient dilution, i.e. "the displacement of the intake of nutrient-dense foods by the overconsumption of energy-dense foods (rich in fat and sugar and poor in nutrients)" (learn more). She also explains why nutrition research can be so complex, especially when studies rely on participants self-reporting their diets. This is Dr. González-Padilla's second podcast with us. You can listen to the first one here.
August 31, 2020
At Home with Tess: New Nordic Cuisine in Everyday Life
Anne Katrine Kleberg Hansen, a medical historian and food-lover in Copenhagen, Denmark, talks to Tess about how the New Nordic food movement has changed how she eats in her everyday life, how those around her eat, and how it has impacted her neighborhood. This episode is paired with one from Anders Kristian Munk, another Dane who has written about the New Nordic movement.
August 25, 2020
Anders Kristian Munk on New Nordic Cuisine
Anders Kristian Munk is an ethnologist and computational social scientist interested in cultural phenomena in Europe. He uses computational methods to study patterns in large amounts of data. In this interview with Stanley, Munk discusses one cultural phenomenon that he has been following for over 15 years: the New Nordic food movement. The New Nordic food movement was made famous by the restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, which focuses on fresh, local, seasonal foods and traditional cuisine re-made in new ways. The movement has since spread around the world. Munk talks about how New Nordic food compares to other local diets, such as the Mediterranean Diet, and speaks to the potential for food innovation present in Scandinavia. This recording is truly embedded in the local: you can hear the birds chirping throughout. Stay tuned for a follow-up "Household Dynamics" podcast hosted by Tess about eating and experiencing New Nordic cuisine!
August 20, 2020
Neuroendocrinologist Giles Yeo on Covid-19 and Obesity
Giles Yeo is a neuroendocrinologist at the University of Cambridge with over 20 years experience researching  brain control and body-weight (learn more). He speaks in this episode about the relationship between Covid-19 and obesity. As this research is unfolding, Yeo gives us some potential hypotheses and explains what data is still needed. He also points to the socioeconomic inequalities evident in the pandemic.  [Note that this episode was recorded on May 29, 2020]
August 14, 2020
Sociologist Claude Fischler on Food Studies and Commensality
Stanley interviews Claude Fischler, a French social scientist, Senior Investigator Emeritus with CNRS, the French National Science Center, and a former director of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Contemporary Anthropology in Paris. In this episode, he talks about the importance of food to humans, beginning with why he decided to pursue the study of food. He defines commensality, explaining where this word comes from and how it manifests today. He also discusses the contemporary eating habits of the French and how they compare to other countries.
August 4, 2020
Season Two Introduction
Season 2 is here! In this season, we have bite-sized interviews with experts in food and nutrition, and other issues that impact the biological body. We will pepper these with interviews with households on the topics discussed. Write to us! DM us on Instagram @aroundthetablepod or send us a message at
August 4, 2020
Stanley and Tess in Conversation: Themes and Thoughts on Season 1: Lock Down Food
We cover some of the themes that came out through our interviews, from creativity in the kitchen to inequality, obesity, and Covid-19. For those of you that don't know, Stanley is a nutritional anthropologist whose work centers on the evolutionary basis for, and cultural diversity in, nutritional health. This includes both undernutrition and obesity, and the diseases associated with them. Tess asks him a few questions about the future of food and science when it comes to obesity and Covid-19. Just a reminder that all thoughts are preliminary: we put this podcast out to think and muse as things unfold.
June 16, 2020
Interview with Dr. Amy McLennan, a human scientist and social researcher in Australia
Stanley interviews Dr. Amy McLennan, a human scientist and social researcher in Australia, who discusses how Covid-19 has impacted the meat industry, exposing issues of structural violence and inequality. She also discusses the implications for the global meat supply chain, including what it means to live in a society that has aimed to eliminate food storage. Once you give it a listen, here are some additional articles about some of the topics covered, including the US vs. Australian meat industry, a mobile butcher in Germany,  how the pandemic is messing with AI models, and the plant-based boom.
June 9, 2020
Interview with Stephanie Morphew, Researcher and Writer
Stanley talks to Steph Morphew, a food writer and service industry worker who discusses direct to consumer selling from the restaurant industry during lock down and what our future access to good food might look like.
June 5, 2020
Interview with Lou Chatey, co-owner of Westford Hill Distillers
Tess interviews Lou Chatey, the co-owner of Westford Hill Distillers in Ashford, CT. He talks about how the pandemic has impacted business, including answering the demand for hand sanitizer, as well as his spring forages and cocktail creations. 
June 5, 2020
Interview with Dr. Heather Hamill, Sociologist at the University of Oxford
Stanley interviews with Dr. Heather Hamill, a Sociologist at the University of Oxford and mother of three, who discusses having covid-19 symptoms and a loss of appetite, using up the over-supply of chickpeas at the bottom of the cupboard, and her children's growing confidence in cooking. She ends with an appreciation for neighborly kindness, recalling the reassurance that a loaf of bread left on the doorstep gave her in the early weeks of lock down.
June 2, 2020
Interview with Dr. Giles Yeo, Geneticist at the University of Cambridge
Stanley interviews Dr. Giles Yeo, a Geneticist at the University of Cambridge and author of "Gene Eating: The Story of Human Appetite." He talks about food insecurity during Covid19, concerns for Brexit, and posting his cooking under #bringingchinatownhome, a London campaign to draw positive attention to Chinatown, which was one of the areas most devastated by the lock down. Check out his recipe for crispy aromatic duck, a "high impact, low effort" dish!
June 2, 2020
Interview with a couple in Beirut, Lebanon
Tess interviews a couple in Beirut, Lebanon, who discuss having a baby during the pandemic, how the pandemic came during ongoing political and economic crisis in Lebanon, and the "micro-market of sweets" that's emerged during lockdown. 
May 28, 2020
Interview with Tim Herdon in Oxford, UK
Stanley speaks with Tim Herdon, an editor at Oxford University Press, who says he's eating healthier in lockdown, and making his kids chicken nuggets from scratch (we're impressed!). This episode makes us wonder, are many of us eating healthier in lockdown? 
May 28, 2020
Interview with Jon Bone, co-owner of Life Bowls in Connecticut, USA
Tess interviews Jon Bone, the co-owner of Life Bowls in Connecticut, known for its delicious and healthy açaí bowls. He talks about what it's like to run a food business during lockdown, the demand for healthy takeout, plant-based eating, and what the future of the restaurant industry might look like. 
May 26, 2020
Interview with Eden Henderson, a London Chef
Stanley interviews Eden Henderson, a chef at The River Cafe in London. He’s learning to appreciate the simple things about food during lockdown, like "cheese on toast with some obscene topping” (me too, Eden, 100% all about the cheese on sourdough). 
May 26, 2020
Interview with Pallavi Laxmikanth, a medical anthropologist, in lockdown in Hyderabad, India
Tess interviews Pallavi Laxmikanth, a doctoral candidate at the University of Adelaide who discusses lockdown in Hyderabad, India, and how it has changed her life and the lives of her research participants. She researches metabolic health and food practices, particularly around new food apps, in households in India. "I've been thinking about the difference between restriction and refusal," she tells us, explaining the different ways people relate to both diabetes restrictions and government restrictions during covid-19.
May 21, 2020
Interview with Esther González-Padilla, a nutritional epidemiologist in the Canary Islands, Spain  
Esther González-Padilla discusses mediterranean eating, "sobremesa," sugar and micronutrient dilution, and why over-snacking is a problem during COVID-19. González-Padilla is a PhD student at the Nutritional Epidemiology Group, Department of Clinical Sciences Malmö, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden. You can read her recent paper on micronutrient dilution on BioMedCentral. She also recommends these food and nutrition tips during self-quarantine (WHO Europe) and "Food for thought: 7 tips on keeping a healthy diet in the face of coronavirus."
May 18, 2020
Interview with Alexandra Ulijaszek Scott, on creativity, food, and cocktails in London during lockdown
Stanley interviews Alexandra Ulijaszek Scott, a cocktail bartender in London who talks about the creativity coming from the food and beverage industry during lockdown.
May 14, 2020
Interview with Maddalena Borsato, a "messy pastry practitioner with a philosophical vein," in lockdown in Italy
Maddalena Borsato, a messy pastry chef and researcher in aesthetics, studies sweetness and taste from a philosophical point of view. She co-created a website,, with where she and Jacopo Giacomoni "philosophize with a spoon" and create thoughtful pastry recipes. She discusses lockdown in Italy, sourdough, and philosophy.
May 14, 2020
Around the Virtual Table During COVID-19: Everyday Tales from Denmark, Switzerland, and the UK
Tess interviews Tanja Schneider (Switzerland), Anne Katrine Kleberg Hansen (Denmark), and Stanley Ulijaszek (UK) about how their everyday food lives have changed since the COVID-19 lock down.
May 14, 2020
Our Vision: Tess and Stanley in Conversation
In our first episode, we have a conversation about our vision for this podcast and for our first season called Lockdown Food.
May 13, 2020