The Secret History of America’s Oldest Tofu Shop

Back before hippies and health nuts discovered cultured soy. Before Portland, Oregon gave the world the Gardenburger, a man from Okayama, Japan opened a tofu shop there in 1911. The United States was filled with racism and fear. But even after the Ohta family was released from WWII internment camps, Ota Tofu never stopped making their nigari-style tofu. It remains some of the best in the country.

Published: Sep 18, 2017
Length: 8 minutes (2,042 words)

Where Soccer Gets Made

Colonialism may have introduced football to what is now Sialkot, Pakistan, but local craftsmanship and ingenuity turned the town into the world’s leading producer of soccer balls and other lucrative exports.

Published: Feb 11, 2018
Length: 10 minutes (2,684 words)

Radio Nowhere

Radio Alwan is the independent station that broadcasts important daily news and activism in war-torn Syria. After radicals forced the station out of Syria, it made its secret home inside an Istanbul apartment in a residential neighborhood, because truth is an endangered commodity in Assad’s Syria, and because those who run Alwan are still not safe.

Published: Jan 11, 2018
Length: 9 minutes (2,353 words)

Where the Peppers Grow

Sichuan peppercorns are famous for their citrusy, mouth-numbing heat — and for being one of the hardest-to-find spices in the U.S.

Published: Oct 22, 2017
Length: 10 minutes (2,719 words)

A Bakery in a War Zone

War has killed 10,000 people in Ukraine since 2014, but in a culture where bread is life, the loaves and sweet buns keep rolling out of this bakery on the front lines.

Author: Lily Hyde
Published: Oct 6, 2017
Length: 9 minutes (2,318 words)

The New Old Sound of Motor City

How Detroit techno was born — and continued to thrive — amid financial and social strife.

Published: Sep 25, 2017
Length: 11 minutes (2,801 words)

From Cannabis to Cabernet

Lebanon has produced wine for thousands of years. When Lebanese farmers started growing cannabis and opium poppies in the 1940s, the region became one of the world’s largest narcotics trafficking hubs, and the US wanted it stopped. Some farmers have been converting their fields to grapes, and reinvigorating Lebanon’s wine culture.

Published: Aug 23, 2017
Length: 15 minutes (3,792 words)

Albania’s Bunker Problem

Between 150,000 and 750,000 bunkers were built throughout this tiny eastern European nation by an extreme Communist regime. Now people use the retired structures as restaurants, museums, underground farms and toilets. Doesn’t sound like a problem to me.

Published: May 8, 2017
Length: 7 minutes (1,890 words)

Why Should a Melon Cost as Much as a Car?

Japan’s high-end fruit market elevates produce to works of art.

Published: Mar 28, 2017
Length: 8 minutes (2,219 words)

The Swiss Invasion

You don’t shop on Saturday if you live in Konstanz, Germany. Why? The Swiss.

Published: Mar 5, 2017
Length: 8 minutes (2,007 words)