Maria Godoy

Maria Godoy is a senior editor with NPR's Science Desk and the host of NPR's food blog, The Salt. Maria covers the food beat with a wide lens, investigating everything from the health effects of caffeine to how our diets define our cultural and personal identities.

With her colleagues on the food team, Maria won the 2012 James Beard Award for best food blog. The Salt was also awarded first place in the blog category from the Association of Food Journalists in 2013, and it won a Gracie Award for Outstanding Blog from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation in 2013.

Previously, Maria oversaw political, national, and business coverage for NPR.org. Her work as part of NPR's reporting teams has been recognized with several awards, including two prestigious Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Silver Batons: one for coverage of the role of race in the 2008 presidential election, and another for a series about the sexual abuse of Native American women. The latter series was also awarded the Columbia Journalism School's Dart Award for excellence in reporting on trauma, and a Gracie Award.

In 2010, Maria and her colleagues were awarded a Gracie Award for her work on a series exploring the science of spirituality. She was also part of a team that won the 2007 Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for Excellence in Reporting on Drug and Alcohol Issues.

Maria was a 2008 Ethics fellow at the Poynter Institute. She joined NPR in 2003 as a digital news editor.

Born in Guatemala, Maria now lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with her husband, two kids, and two fat and happy cats. She's a sucker for puns (and has won a couple of awards for her punning headlines).

Bedecked in fondant and flowers, modern wedding cakes are the centerpiece of the marriage feast — an edible form of art. But are they also an expression of free speech?

That is the question the Supreme Court will consider this fall when it hears the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple because he said it would violate his religious beliefs.

"You'd think cake would be apolitical, and yet here we are," muses baker Catherine George of Catherine George Cakes.

At 87, Dolores Huerta is a living civil rights icon. She has spent most of her life as a political activist, fighting for better working conditions for farmworkers and the rights of the downtrodden, a firm believer in the power of political organizing to effect change.

In 1980, soon after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, Zubair Popal fled the country with his wife, Shamim, two young sons and infant daughter.

"There was no hope for me to stay," he recalls. "I thought about the future of my kids. And in those days when the Soviet Union went to a country and invaded that country, they never left."

John T. Edge is a man who knows how spin a good yarn. Listening to him talk can feel like falling under the spell of your favorite college professor. He's wickedly smart, funny, warm and welcoming.

And for years, the tale he's been telling is all about Southern food: about its central role in Southern identity, and about what it owes to the African-American and immigrant cooks who have historically been left out of the standard narratives the South tells about itself.

By night, they play gigs. By day, they sample ramen in cities across America.

When President Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the administration's budget blueprint earlier this week, which calls for significant cuts to food stamps, he noted that the aim of the budget was to get people working.

"If you're on food stamps and you're able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you're on disability insurance and you're not supposed to be — if you're not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work," Mulvaney said Tuesday.

They're seemingly unavoidable on Instagram these days: photos of bright yellow egg yolks nestled in a fluffy bed of egg whites, like the sun framed by billowy clouds. They're called cloud eggs, and they're pretty enough to look like a taste of heaven ... which is probably why people are obsessively whipping them up and sharing their pictures on social media.

Yet the latest food fad du jour is actually a modern spin on a nearly 400-year-old recipe.

Cooked chicken from birds grown and raised in China soon will be headed to America — in a trade deal that's really about beef.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday night that the U.S. was greenlighting Chinese chicken imports and getting U.S. beef producers access to China's nearly 1.4 billion consumers. But the deal is raising concerns among critics who point to China's long history of food-safety scandals.

The foods we choose to put on our plates — or toss away – could have more of an ecological impact than many of us realize.

On Earth Day, here are some ways to consider how our diet impacts the planet.

Waste not, want not

You've heard the numbers on food waste. More than 30 percent of available food is tossed each year in America. It's enough to fill Chicago's 1,450-foot-tall Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) 44 times over.

They come from places like Vietnam, China, Mexico and Guatemala, lured by promises of better-paying jobs and legal immigration. Instead, they're smuggled into the U.S., forced to work around the clock as bussers, wait staff and cooks, and housed in cramped living quarters. For this, they must pay exorbitant fees that become an insurmountable debt, even as their pay is often withheld, stolen or unfairly docked.

Call it an outburst of outrage giving.

Since President Trump's budget proposal was unveiled last Thursday, Meals on Wheels America, the national group which says it supports more than 5,000 community-based organizations that deliver meals to homebound seniors, has seen a flood of donations.

"You don't look like you're from around here," a young Adolphus Busch is told as he arrives in America from Germany to pursue his dream of making beer. So begins Budweiser's new Super Bowl ad, released earlier this week into an ongoing political maelstrom over immigration.

Yemeni-owned bodegas across New York City's five boroughs shut their doors at noon ET Thursday to protest President Trump's executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Under the order signed last Friday, travelers from not only Yemen but also Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria are barred from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also suspends admissions of new refugees for 120 days.

Oxford, Miss., is a town steeped in Southern identity.

"In many ways this is an archetypal Southern town," says John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, which is based in Oxford. "There's a courthouse square at the center, there are beautiful homes with rolling lawns framing it."

And there's the University of Mississippi, known as Ole Miss, a campus once rocked by deadly riots over racial integration. To some, Oxford might seem an unlikely place for a native of India to achieve star status as a chef.

For many Latinos, the taste of Christmas Eve is a delicious gift of corn masa and filling wrapped up in aromatic leaves: tamales.

At the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, as a Sioux tribe fights the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the months-long standoff has raised a question: How do you feed the encamped masses?

For Navajo chef Brian Yazzie, the answer was clear: in a way that honors indigenous traditions.

Sugar shocked.

That describes the reaction of many Americans this week following revelations that, 50 years ago, the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists for research that shifted the focus away from sugar's role in heart disease — and put the spotlight squarely on dietary fat.

What might surprise consumers is just how many present-day nutrition studies are still funded by the food industry.

Once upon a time, cigarettes were the currency of choice when those behind bars needed to barter. But these days, America's prisoners are trading with ramen.

Over the past few years, so-called ugly fruit and vegetables have been gaining a host of admirers.

At The Salt, we talk a lot about how food and cultures intersect and how we can learn about ourselves through what we eat — or don't eat.

For many of us, food can serve as a way to explore our heritage. But what happens when you grow up in a family with a different ethnic, racial or cultural background than your own? How does food play into your sense of who you are?

If you are an international adoptee, and you've got a story about food, home and identity, we want to hear from you. Your story could end up on radio or NPR.org!

What you need to do:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a cultural force — her face emblazoned on T-shirts and tattoos, her iconic status solidified with the hip-hop-inspired moniker Notorious RBG. But, she's also developed a bit of a reputation for snoozing away during annual State of the Union addresses.

Ginsburg says there's a perfectly valid reason: alcohol.

It was the tasting that revolutionized the wine world.

Forty years ago today, the crème de la crème of the French wine establishment sat in judgment for a blind tasting that pitted some of the finest wines in France against unknown California bottles. Only one journalist bothered to show up — the outcome was considered a foregone conclusion.

"Obviously, the French wines were going to win," says George Taber, who was then a correspondent for Time magazine in Paris. He says everyone thought "it's going to be a nonstory."

Mention the concept of food waste, and for many people, it's likely to conjure images of rotting fruit and vegetables or stale meals unfit for consumption.

But a lot of the food that gets tossed out in America — some $162 billion worth each year, enough to fill 44 skyscrapers — is fresh, nutritious and downright delicious: think plump eggplants, bright yellow squashes, giant, vibrant-orange carrots with a crisp bite. The kind of beautiful produce that would be perfectly at home in, say, this giant vegetable paella made by celebrity chef José Andrés and his team.

For an "authentic" Mexican meal, why not cook up crepes?

¿Que qué?! You ask. Hear me out.

Earth Day got you thinking about how your diet impacts the planet?

The World Resources Institute has news to ease a meat-lover's conscience: In a new report, it says you don't have to bid burgers bye-bye in order to reduce the environmental footprint of what you eat. Cutting back could go a long way, it says.

In the report, the nonprofit calculates the planetary effect of various possible changes in how the world eats.

Every writer knows the paralyzing terror of the blank page. For poet Tess Taylor, the antidote to fear came through farming.

Taylor is the author of Work & Days, a new volume of poetry inspired by her year spent working on a farm in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. She was there living alone in a cabin as part of a writer's residency, finishing her first book of verse, and "had nothing to do but write," she says. "The idea of facing the blank page for that much time really scared me."

Hunting down that obscure Vietnamese place that serves up bánh bao exactly like you'd find in Hanoi, or an Indian joint with dal just like the one you had on that trip to New Delhi, is a not uncommon pursuit in these food-obsessed days. But our culinary hunt for "authentic ethnic" food can be a double-edged sword, says Krishnendu Ray.

Recently, we started a conversation about food and race. Specifically, we wondered out loud, who gets to cook — and become the face of — a culture's cuisine?

Our question was prompted by a recent Sporkful interview with Rick Bayless, who has faced criticism over his long career. Although he is an Oklahoman with no Mexican ancestry, he has become one of the most prominent ambassadors for Mexican cuisine in America.

It's been called "perhaps the most contentious issue in the food industry": Should food products be labeled to indicate they contain genetically modified ingredients?

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