Your Shot: Getting Our Global Grill On

Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer in the United States, and marks the time many of us finally fire up the grill. But there’s so much more we can throw on there than just hot dogs and hamburgers. From pigs heads in Mexico, to octopus in Greece, to bananas and sweet potatoes in Laos, check out our gallery, a visual tribute to the global grill.

10 Takeaways From the Dietary Guidelines Summit

Get a room of food scientists, dieticians, and politicians together to discuss 571-page eating rules for a few hours, and you can be sure there will be a lot of opinions.

Today’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans Summit was held at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C. headquarters in conjunction with The Ohio State University. It was an opportunity to debate the proposed guidelines the government will use to form policy and educate the public for the next five years. The guidelines will influence everything about food, from school lunch to prison meals to food stamp benefits to the pamphlets your doctor gives you about how to lose 15 ...

Why Your Bloody Mary Tastes Better on a Plane

Who among us has never complained about airplane food?

Today’s in-flight offerings tend to be so common, so bland, so offensively inoffensive. The gluey chicken or the dense pasta? If the plastic tray offerings weren’t so good at breaking the monotony on an hours-long flight, the answer for most people, on the ground at least, would be "no thanks." Unless, oddly, it involves tomatoes. More on that in a minute.

But airline food has a deeper story. There’s a reason every item served on board, from ginger ale to a dinner roll, was chosen to fly. Each one tells a story about the history of flight and of human taste.

Take ...

Bug Off: Why Insect Eating Is More Gimmick Than Reality

Bugs are the hottest new trend in food!

Sound familiar? It should. Almost two years ago, in the wake of a FAO report on edible insects, National Geographic, along with everyone else, was writing about how bugs could save us all. Even before that, in 2010, Dutch entomologist Marcel Dicke gave a famous TED Talk and co-wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal advocating for entomophagy (a fancy word for bug eating).

Look around.  Is everyone eating fried mealworms?

I didn’t think so.

I’m a bit conflicted about insect consumption. I will freely admit to being a little squeamish about anything worm-shaped and wriggly. But crickets? Specifically the enormous, invasive camel ...

White House Puts Honey Where Its Mouth Is

Bees are big business, an irreplaceable $15 billion economic resource that the government must protect using research, rooftop hives, and international cooperation. So says the committee tasked by President Barack Obama with promoting the health of all pollinator animals, as a vital part of our food system.

By releasing the Pollinator Research Action Plan Tuesday, President Obama gave credibility to the formerly niche issue of Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious worldwide decline in the honeybee population. He started down this road just by creating a task force to look at it a year ago.

The report identifies three goals for pollinator health: stem the global bee population loss, increase the number of ...

Your Shot: Breakfast Around the World

If you're the kind of person who grabs coffee and an energy bar while running out the door, it may be time to rethink your breakfast.

In Thailand, people sit down with steaming hot bowls of rice porridge called jok, brightened with bits of pork or shrimp and fish sauce, of course, or maybe Non Khai pan egg, in which the whites are scrambled but the yolks left wholeIn Iceland, you may wake up with strong coffee, a hot bowl of hafragrautur, or oatmeal, and a swig of cod liver oil for the kidsBreakfast in Kenya could be a thin porridge called uji and a cup of chai, or maybe a fried doughnut made with coconut milk called mahamri. 

Whatever you ...

Why Corn–Not Rice–Is King in China

 

Rice has long been a cultural symbol of the Chinese diet. First cultivated by Asian farmers some 8,000 years ago, it has become a major staple crop for the world and has been by far the biggest crop in the country.

But for the last few years, corn has taken the crown for top crop in China. And that’s not because the Chinese have suddenly developed an enormous appetite for corn on the cob—instead, they’re using corn to grow livestock.

Corn production has jumped nearly 125 percent over the past 25 years, while rice has increased only 7 percent, according to the World Bank. A taste for meat is behind the change, since ...

Kangaroo: The Next Alternative Meat?

Kangaroo has been on the menu for thousands of years in Australia, serving as the fuel in native diets and spotlighted on menus in pricey Sydney restaurants as a sustainable alternative to beef. Down Under, kangaroos are pests, invading golf courses, farmland, and even urban areas. But the meat hasn't been widely embraced in its native country, or in other parts of the world, just yet.

That's not to say you can't find it. You can buy kangaroo meat in American cities like San Francisco and New York. You can get kangaroo in the U.K. And just recently, kangaroo made its way into supermarkets in Lima, Peru.

While Peru's meat counters are no strangers to what we might ...

Unpacking the Stacked History of the Sandwich

Almost everybody, everywhere, eats sandwiches.

Collectively, by one estimate, Americans wolf down about 45 billion sandwiches a year. Each day, according to a 2014 study, half of all American adults eat at least one sandwich. And a lot of us even start our mornings with sandwiches: One report found that 46 percent of breakfasts ordered at restaurants consisted of sandwiches. They’re particularly popular because we can eat them in our cars.

Sandwiches traditionally are the food of the busy, the hurried, and the on-the-go. The word "sandwich," according to the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary, comes from the overly preoccupied John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, “who once spent twenty-four hours at the gaming-table ...

Food Debate Shifts As U.S. Considers ‘GMO-Free’ Label

Just call Vermont the mouse that roared. The state’s mandatory GMO food-labeling law, designed to serve its tiny population of 625,000, probably just changed eating for 320 million Americans.

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that it is, after years of debate, considering an official voluntary "GMO-Free" label for food. To some, the national suggestion of a voluntary label is squishy and without teeth, when compared with Vermont’s mandatory law for labeling anything containing GMOs (which is roughly 80 percent of our food supply). That’s an important discussion.

But equally important is the question why, after years of debate and activists demanding government labeling, would the government act now? According to ...

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