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Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Author. Journalist. Educator.

For more info, see https://www.ninafurstenau.com/

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau is a journalist, author, and editor of the FoodStory book series for the University of Iowa Press. She was a Fulbright Global research scholar (2018-19), is on the board of directors for Media for Change, and has won the MFK Fisher Book Award and the Grand Prize Award for Culture/Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International, a Kansas Notable Book award, and more.

Nina hosts Canned Peaches, a podcast created with KBIA, The Missouri School of Journalism, The Missouri Humanities Council, and Harvest Public Media, in fall 2023. The series focuses on the histories of iconic foods/ingredients in the Midwest with an interest in showing how we are already entwined on the plate. Food and Culture, 8th Edition, edited by Nina and SeAnne Safaii-Waite and released in Spring 2023, is the market-leading text for cultural foods courses, providing current information on the health, culture, food, and nutrition habits of community groups living in the United States. It is designed to help health professionals, chefs, others in the food service industry, and anyone who hopes to work effectively with members of different ethnic and religious groups in a culturally sensitive manner. Green Chili & Other Impostors (Chilies, Chhana and Rasa in India), focuses on how foods traveled around the world with India, especially under colonialism, as a nexus. Other published works include the award-wining Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland, as well as Tasty! Mozambique, Savor Missouri: River Hills Country Food and Wine, and numerous stories and essays for newspapers and magazines. She engages as a speaker at conferences such as NonfictionNow, Unbound Book, Iowa City Book Festival, Food, Fork and Pen, and more.

Nina served in the U.S. Peace Corps (1984-86) and was one of its delegates for the U.N. World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya. She was director of Food Systems Communication for the University of Missouri's Science and Agricultural Journalism program (2010-2018), and completed food/nutrition projects in Ghana and Mozambique for USAID and the McKnight Foundation. She was editor, then publisher of three business magazines, has served as a judge for national journalism competitions such as the James Beard Media Awards, the Lowell Thomas Travel Writing competition, and others. Nina received an M.A. in English/creative writing and a bachelor's in magazine journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism.

  • Ask any beekeeper about the sound of bees working, and they’ll tell you: It’s a gripping sound - the sound of hard work, of production, of interconnection. This episode of Canned Peaches is taking us to the beehives at three Missouri farms - one small farm and producer in central Missouri, another in Spanish Lake in St. Louis County, where Black and BIPOC beekeepers and producers find meditation and connection through audio and bees. And we’ll road-trip to a southwest Missouri farm and research center where veterans are beekeeping for resilience and community. And of course for honey. We’re going out to explore honey, and the world of sound involved in producing it.
  • Mushrooms have captured people’s attention for centuries. They pop up in ancient Chinese art, Celtic fairy tales and today’s Indigenous medicine. And over the last few years, mushrooms have rapidly increased in popularity. We’re going foraging for mushrooms with Missouri’s state botanist, we’re making mushroom hash with a chef who’s turned his fungi passions into a mushroom-production business, and we’re talking about the many characteristics of mushrooms that make them a new symbol of queer community. Our “Shroom Boom” episode takes us through some new avenues where communities are connecting through fungi.
  • Canned peaches not only preserve fruit, but also time. The memory, the smell, the summer sun are all captured when the lid is sealed. But the past year has been rough for peaches. Some people drove for hours in search of fresh ones. In our namesake episode, Canned Peaches, we’re adventuring to a cannery that bottles up our nostalgia into glass jars full of all kinds of goodness. We’ll go fruit picking at a peach orchard, and follow the growers to the farmers’ market where we’ll join a long line of Missourians waiting for a bag of fresh peaches and talking about their peach dreams. This episode, we’re going in search of fresh fruit and discovering how canned peaches connect people through a complex food web that crosses time and space.
  • The story of rice is a story of transformation. For host and producer Nina Mukerjee Furstenau, rice can start out in fields in the India of her memories and end up as a magical breakfast cereal, or maybe even the gooey, delightful Rice Krispies treats of our collective childhood memories. In this episode of Canned Peaches, we’ll adventure to an actual rice factory in southern Missouri where rice is “crisped” for all kinds of consumption, and we’ll hear how Nina can be delighted about food even in a very loud, very hot factory. We’ll journey to a Camp Fire Heartland kitchen to make Rice Krispies treats with the kids of the Saturday Club. And we’ll take a trip back in time to learn about the magical transformation made by “food shot from a gun!” All aboard the Magical Food Bus.
  • Somebody, somewhere, can’t get enough of chestnuts. Even though chestnuts seem to have phased out of American culture over the last hundred years or so and we don’t think of them as a big part of our diet anymore, farmers seem to be selling out of chestnuts year after year. In this episode, we’re going in search of the communities that can’t get enough of chestnuts. Our explorations will take us to a chestnut orchard, a kitchen where we’ll make chestnut soup, and an Italian restaurant on The Hill in St. Louis where a renowned Italian chef recalls his first teacher in the kitchen: his grandmother. This episode takes us on a magical food adventure to explore what it is that makes chestnuts a cultural cornerstone. And yes, in spite of producer Lauren Hines-Acosta’s best efforts to keep it out of this episode, you will hear that iconic holiday song. You know the one.