True foodies appreciate that there is so much more to food than just eating it.  Cooking can be an intellectual, innovative, philanthropic, and therapeutic process.  There a million things you can do with food besides eat it – and if you are going to eat it, there are a million ways to do that, too.  Here are some of the best food-related TED talks, in no particular order, for next time you need to feed your foodie soul, not just fill your stomach.

1. Changing the World With Cake

A huge part of being a foodie is the community. The food we make makes us happy, but what's even better is when it can make others happy.  With the current state of the nation and the world, everything we can do to help the vulnerable and make people smile is important.  These women, or should I say, these good bitches, are both funny and inspirational, and the cause they serve is incredibly relevant right now.  Listen to them talk about it here.

2. The Power of Home Cooking


bvalium on Flickr

If being in college doesn’t already have you missing home cooking, this video certainly will. Lucinda Scala Quinn talks about life lessons associated with cooking – doing it, teaching it, and learning it.

3. How I Fell in Love with a Fish

sauce, vegetable, seafood, meat, fish
Jocelyn Hsu

Like most of the Spooniverse, Dan Barber is a foodie – he cares about his meals tasting good.  Beyond that, though, Barber cares about policy.  He cares about equality. He cares about sustainability.  In this funny talk about love, heartbreak, and fish, Barber will make you think differently about your food, where it comes from, and how it's raised.

4. Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian 

pepper, carrot, tomato, vegetable
Christin Urso

"Nothing with a face Monday through Friday; on the weekend, your choice."  Many of us care about eating sustainably but are not about to start a vertical farm in our dorm rooms or give up hamburgers forever. For the eco-conscious omnivores among us, Hill's talk presents a great solution to help balance your personal tastes and the environmental impact of your food.

Plus, some shameless self promotion: if you’re interested in following a sustainable diet without sacrificing too much, check my article

5. What’s Wrong with Our Food Systems?


cjuneau on Flickr

Once you get over the fact that this kid is 11 years old, giving a TED talk, actually likes kale chips, and is much closer to being a real adult than you are at approximately twice his age, Birke Baehr's talk is excellent.  Filled with cute anecdotes and zinger one-liners, this aspiring organic farmer's short talk is informative, inspiring, and entertaining.

6. Cooking as Never Seen Before

In this talk given by chef and self-professed jack-of-all-trades Nathan Myhrvold, you really can see food as you never have before; that is, sliced down the middle, frying pan and all.  This talk highlights the scientific, technical side of cooking (for example, relating popcorn to physics) but also the beautiful and aesthetically pleasing side. 

7. Teach Every Child About Food

french fries, bread, sweet, milk
Alex Frank

In this popular talk, Jamie Oliver presents takeaways from his anti-obesity work in West Virginia in a powerful way, from videos of little kids who think tomatoes are potatoes and eggplants are pears to pictures of oversized coffins. Oliver uses these shocking, effective tactics to make a really good point: our nation is so paranoid about murder, but what about heart disease and diabetes and other diet-related diseases that are responsible for many more Americans deaths each year than homicide?

Plus, Oliver actually offers some solutions to this crisis in his talk, which make this video a little less depressing and a little more inspiring.

#SpoonTip: If you don't have time for this one, or if you're still not sure it's worth the watch, check out 8 Lessons America Could Learn From Jame Oliver's TED Talk

8. Want kids to learn well? Feed them well. 

AGC Photo Girls Enjoy Lunch

USDAgov on Flickr

Similarly to Jamie Oliver, food entrepreneur and former White House Chef Sam Kass uses his TED talk to communicate how important it is for young kids to eat well.  Beyond focusing on eating well for health purposes, Kass explains how "proper education is not possible without proper nutrition."  If we want our kids to succeed in school and beyond, we need to feed them better. We all know eating well is important, but watch this video to see just how crucial it truly is.

9. Cooking as Alchemy

All of us have been thrown off at some point by taking a sip or a bite of something that we expected to be something else. For me it's usually when I'm half-awake in the morning and take a sip of orange juice instead of water, or vice versa. But what if this was done on purpose? From dessert nachos with melty mango sorbet "cheese" to pork cigars, the dishes discussed in this talk are not what they seem to be at first glance.

The speakers also present some interesting hypotheticals along these lines. Could we use watermelon that looks, tastes, and behaves like tuna to eliminate overfishing? Could we cut sugar in our diets by using miracle berries that make our tongues perceive sour things as sweet without actually adding any sweetener?Nothing, it seems, is impossible.

So go on, start watching these TED talks – or actually, go get yourself some food first.  Then eat it as you watch, and feed your foodie body and your foodie mind at the same time. 

For more inspired listening, check out:

7 Podcasts Every Healthy Eater Listens to on the Reg

This TED Talk About Food Waste is the Most Important Thing You'll See All Day

9 Podcasts Every College Student Should Be Listening To