Back in 2006, Kim Severson wrote an article for the New York Times Dining section about the emergence of cooking shows on satellite radio (think the Food Network but with aural porn replacing the gratuitous visuals). Never a bunch to miss out on the party, the sustainable food community quickly followed suit. Over the last few years, radio programs spouting the gospel of "good food" have spread like sourdough bubbles across the airwaves and Internet. Here are some of the shows worth tuning in to.
An Organic Conversation
Station: KKGN-AM Green 960 (Oakland, Calif.)
When: Saturdays, 10 a.m. PDT
Every week, Helge Hellberg hosts a food show with a unique focus on the culture, stories and relationships behind the food we eat. The show blends the scientific and the spiritual, the ecological and the economic, ranging from the emergence of organic food carts in our cities to new ways to relate to the "poetry of the land." One of the newbies on this list (the show launched in 2009 on the progressive Bay Area-based station Green 960), An Organic Conversation is poised to become a critical source of information and perspective within the food movement.
Crop to Cuisine
Station: KGNU-FM 88.5 (Boulder, Colo.) and other stations
When: Mondays, 3 p.m. MDT
Crop to Cuisine, hosted by radio journalist Dov Hirsch, focuses on the positive impacts that individuals can make on the world — and their own lives — through their food choices. The programs focus on food safety, sustainable agriculture and economics while providing listeners with solutions they can "seamlessly integrate into daily life." Past guests have included national personalities like Ann Cooper (aka The Renegade Lunch Lady) and local heroes like Adam Duyle, who is an instructor at the Culinary School of the Rockies.
Station: Kootenay Co-op Radio, CJLY-FM 93.5 (Nelson, British Columbia) and other stations
When: Thursdays, 6 p.m. PDT; Mondays, noon PDT
You gotta love co-op radio — it's progressive, community-run and promises to cover issues that the mainstream stations generally pass over ... like the politics on your diner plate. British Columbia resident Jon Steinman launched the show Deconstructing Dinner, which — true to its name — examines the stories behind our food and empowers listeners to make healthy, sustainable choices. Recent show topics include the uncertain future of Canada's prison farms and industrial hog farming in Quebec.
Earth Talk Radio
Station: KVEC-AM 920 (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
When: Saturdays, 10 a.m. PDT
Folks who like their food programs with a side of wide-eyed, West Coast integrity will love Earth Talk Radio. Every Saturday morning, hosts Melanie Blakenship (a fourth-generation California native who owns an organic grocery store and local plant nursery with her family) and Bill Spencer (an organic family farmer) discuss the food, farming and family of California's Central Coast.
Farm to Family Connection
Station: KKYA-FM 93.1 (Yankton, S.D.) and other stations
When: Thursdays, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. CDT
The weekly show Farm to Family Connection serves as an airwave celebration of South Dakota's farmers, ranchers and food producers. With a focus on building the local community and economy, the show tells the stories of smaller farmers who are located within driving distance of listeners' radios. Thanks to a grant from the W.K. Kellogg foundation, founder Curt Arens was able to develop a toolkit to help farmers and radio stations in other areas start their own shows.
Food Sleuth Radio
Station: KOPN-FM 89.5 (Columbia, Mo.)
When: Thursdays, 5 p.m. CDT
Helping people to "think beyond their plates" and "connect the dots between food, health and agriculture" are the primary goals for radio host and nutritionist Melinda Hemmelgarn. Each week, Hemmelgarn interviews a different innovator in the world of healthy, sustainable food and eating on the community radio station KOPN. So far, Food Sleuth Radio has welcomed an impressive list of guests including Kitchen Gardeners International's Roger Doiron, and filmmaker Ana Joanes, who recently produced and directed the documentary Fresh.
Station: KCRW-FM 89.9 (Santa Monica, Calif.)
When: Saturdays, 11 a.m. PDT
Host Evan Kleiman does it all on her weekly show Good Food, from restaurant reviews to discussions about the politics of consumption. Kleiman — who owns Angeli Caffe and founded Slow Food Los Angeles — has been at it since 1998, and shows no signs of stopping. On her most recent show, Kleiman covered urban farming, pie baking, part-time veganism, wine gadgets, mural art at Mexican restaurants and dining on raw chicken!
The Beyond Organic Show
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
Beyond Organic was one of the pioneers of sustainable food radio. From 1999-2005, the show provided news coverage and commentary on the timely issues of the day including mad cow disease, the slow-food movement and international trade policy. They also welcomed special guests like Michael Pollan (of both pre and post-Omnivore's Dilemma fame) and "Farmer John" Peterson. Although the show is no longer in production, the website is fortunately still live, and the more than 150 shows are available.
Ear to the Ground
Where: Minneapolis, Minn.
Produced by the Land Stewardship Project, the Ear to the Ground podcast focuses on all things rural, sustainable, local and food-justice related. Past shows have included stories about urban farmer and MacArthur Foundation winner Will Allen, and how a dysfunctional health-care system affects rural citizens.
Heritage Radio Network
Where: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Launched in April 2009, Heritage Radio Network describes itself as a "cutting edge Internet-based radio station designed to protect and advance our country's rich cultural roots in the form of interviews, reflections, musings and ramblings from America's leading farmers, food mavericks, filmmakers, artists and tastemakers." Indeed. This amazing new station's shows include Snacky Tunes (all things food and music), Urban Foragers (seeking the best and brightest of the urban food movement) The Main Course (sustainability and chefs), Why We Cook (virtual cooking school) and, well, the list goes on.
Home Sweet Farm Radio
Where: Houston, Texas
In addition to plowing the fields while running a CSA and a monthly on-site farmers' market, farmer Brad Stufflebeam (of Home Sweet Farm in Brenham, Texas) somehow finds the time to moonlight as a radio podcast host. His show, Home Sweet Farm Radio ("broadcasting from the local food front ...") covers issues of sustainable food and features interviews with leaders of the "good food movement," like Dr. Will Allen — a farmer, activist, entrepreneur and author of The War on Bugs.