TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences, where notable speakers present “ideas worth spreading.” I’ll admit it – I’m a huge TED junkie. I’ll watch videos after videos, and I’ve even attended the Cornell University TEDx talk last year. TED topics include anything from scientific breakthroughs, mental health, fashion, and – you guessed it – food. Here are three of my favorite TED talks related to food that are worth watching.

The Search for General Tso by Jennifer 8. Lee

Jennifer 8. Lee is a reporter for the New York Times and writer of The Fortune Cookie Chronicle who talks about why America’s love for Chinese-American dishes. In fact, Chinese-American dishes are so popular that even NASA included a Sweet & Sour Pork dish as part of their space menu. In this entertaining video, she explores the history of how the cultural Chinese dishes and Japanese dishes have fused into the popular Chinese-American cuisine. Check out The Search for General Tso talk. 

Why Dieting Doesn’t Work

In this TED talk, Sandra Aamodt is a neuroscientist and science writer who shares the science behind why dieting doesn’t work and even uses her personal experience and struggle with dieting. In a $60.5 billion dieting industry, where the low carb and low fat and [insert bizarre diet you’ve probably heard of here] is praised, Sandra Aamodt explains the science of how each person has his/her set range of weight.

Sandra Aamodt creates this awareness that every person should embrace his/her set weight range because forcing yourself to be outside of your unnatural weight range can lead to an unhealthy and obsessive mind. She encourages the idea of eating intuitively to live a diet-obsessed mindset and live freely.

As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, Sandra Aamodt’s TED talk is really comforting for me. When I placed my weight at an unnatural set point, my mind progressively became more obsessive about food. The obsessiveness eventually intruded so many aspects of my life, including my social, academic, and most importantly, my happiness.

It has been a year since I’ve been in outpatient recovery, and although the post-recovery can be difficult, I am continuing to be intuitive with my body and am so relieved knowing that I never have to live the rest of my life feeling trapped.

Regardless of if someone is diagnosed with an eating disorder or not, the concept of accepting and embracing your set weight range and disregarding the unhealthy diet practices is crucial for everyone.

I am a huge advocate in intuitive eating (although that takes practice) and taking care of yourself. Only then, just like Sandra Aadmodt states, can you escape from the obsessiveness, be happier, and be more intuitive with yourself, no matter what number on the scale you are.

How Food Shapes Our Cities

Carolyn Steel is an architect and author who uses food as a “medium” to understand how cities function. In this TED talk, Carolyn Steel talks about how often people believe that food magically appear when you walk in a restaurant or grocery store. She shares about how by 2050, the number of people living in cities will grow. This means an increasing demand for more food, and yet only 5 multinational corporate companies own 80% of the global food trade. The world is adapting a Western diet, which is unsustainable for our future.

Carolyn Steel also delves into history and sees how the ancient food routes and agricultural lifestyle shaped the modern world. She really opens the audience’s eyes to how history, architecture, and agriculture all overlap with each other. She encourages you use food as a powerful tool to shape the world positively.

Cooking As Never Seen Before by Nathan Myhrvold

Think your Instagram foodie photos are amazing? Wait until you see Nathan Myhrvold’s photography of cross-sections of food being cooked in action. Nathan Myhrvold will bring out both the foodie and science geek in you as he shows you some beautiful illustrations from his book, Modernist Cuisine. You can even check out the book at the MSLC library.

ted talks

Photo Courtesy of Ted.com

Of course, there are plenty more food-related TED talks and TED articles worth your time. In fact, there’s a whole list of food-related articles, videos, and talks that you can check out here. This may be your new Netflix binge.