Harvest Desk

As a culture, we tend to ignore the advice to eat more fish. On average, Americans eat about 3.5 ounces of seafood per week. (Think a can of tuna or sardines).

But evidence shows that consumption of 8 or more ounces of seafood per week can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and some studies have linked a regular fish habit over a lifetime to a lower risk of cognitive decline as well.

Participation in sports by girls and young women has soared in recent decades — by 560 percent among high school students since 1972, and 990 percent among college students, according to the Women's Sports Foundation. Highly committed young female athletes now run track, play soccer, basketball, water polo and other demanding sports that require strong bodies.

Correction: Italians And Celiac Disease

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How Fishermen's Bragging Rights Gave Birth To Fine Art

Aug 30, 2015

Fishing lore is full of tales about "the one that got away," and fishermen have been known to exaggerate the size of their catch. The bragging problem is apparently so bad, Texas even has a law on the books that makes lying about the size or provenance of a fish caught in a tournament an offense that could come with a felony charge.

This is a story of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. It is the story of the meat straw. Yes, you read that right.

"It is a straw made out of pork," explains Ben Hirko of Coralville, Iowa, the man behind Benny's Original Meat Straws.

It's a half-inch in diameter, the same length as a standard plastic straw. And it has a hole running down the middle of it, through which you're meant to slurp up Bloody Marys.

More than 1,000 square miles of wildfires are burning in Washington state. In the remote Okanogan Valley in the north-central part of the state, many cattle ranchers are scrambling to save their herds.

Ranchers in Omak, Wash., have lost animals, barns, pasture and winter haystacks to the wildfires. But some people still have their cattle, and at the town's Ag Tech Feed Store, owners Monte and Laurie Andrews are trying to help keep those ranchers in business.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three items.

From NPR's Jerusalem correspondent, Emily Harris:

If you're tuned into the world of beer, you may be aware of sour beers — a loosely defined style that has been made for centuries but is gaining fresh appreciation in today's craft beer renaissance. Brewers make these beers by deliberately adding bacteria and, sometimes, wild yeast to the brew, then letting them age slowly. It sounds weird, but sours can be delicious — tart and earthy, and redolent of things like leather, fruit and wood.

While prolonged drought has strained California agriculture, most of the state's farms, it seems, aren't just surviving it: They are prospering.

The environment, though, that's another story. We'll get to that.

More than 21,000 people are out of work this year from California's drought, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. The majority are in agriculture. Those farmworkers lucky enough to have a job are often working harder for less money.

Leaning forward and crouching from the waist, Anastacio picks strawberries from plants about as tall as his knees. We're not using his last name because Anastacio and his family are undocumented.

With more than 1 million people coming to Philadelphia when Pope Francis visits next month, enterprising businesses are coming up with stuff to remember him by, and it's not just rosary beads.

There's a growing market for "unofficial" pope swag that's a bit more irreverent — and edible.

Several local breweries are praying beer drinkers will adore their papal-themed libations.

The folks at Manayunk Brewing Co. recently created a brew they're calling Papal Pleasure, a Belgian amber ale that's a nod to the pontiff's Argentine roots.

Consumption of rosé wine is skyrocketing. U.S. imports of rosé from the Mediterranean region have grown in the double digits for the past 10 years running. This is good news for winemakers in the southern, Provence region of France, where many vintners used to make a few bottles of rosé only for themselves. Not anymore.

The Blanc brothers, Didier and Robert, are third-generation vintners near the town of Uzes, in southern France. The area is known for chirping cicadas, olive trees and chilled rosé wine in the summertime.

About 16 years ago, I lost my hungry heart to a flour tortilla. I was in the small town of Las Vegas, N.M., at Charlie's Spic & Span Café, when a server placed a basket on the table. Inside was a stack of thick, charmingly floppy tortillas, dotted with browned bubbles and closer in thickness to pancakes than the wan, flaccid discs I was used to at the supermarket. My Brooklyn-by-way-of-Michigan palate was infatuated: What magic was this? How could I not have known that tortillas like these existed?

Peek into a Peloton indoor cycling class in New York's posh Chelsea neighborhood and it'll look like most other indoor cycling classes. Sixty stationary bikes are clustered in a dark room, loud music blares to get the heart racing, and a mic-ed up instructor motivates riders.

Except this class has one major difference: Instructor Jen Sherman isn't just talking to riders in the classroom. She's also monitoring metrics for riders in places like New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Kansas. "Jamie in Wichita, good to see you this morning," she says.

There's a new candidate in the century-old quest for perfect, guiltless sweetness.

I encountered it at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists, a combination of Super Bowl, Mecca, and Disneyland for the folks who put the processing in processed food.

Cattle Theft: An Old Crime On The Rise

Aug 25, 2015

Crooks and criminals in America's farm country are turning to an old crime — cattle rustling. The high price for beef and substance abuse are behind the surge in livestock theft, and that's putting some ranchers on edge.

At Susan Edmondson's farm near Henryetta, Okla., cattle started disappearing one by one last fall. At first she thought they had just wandered off. But over the winter, more and more went away, until she had lost 12 cows and 16 calves.

The culprits: teenage cattle thieves. Edmonson knew them well.

In a bid to cut down on bureaucracy, the mayor of Paris has scrapped an arcane law that required bakers to inform city hall anytime they wanted to close up shop.

When the measure was passed by the Assemblee Nationale, or French parliament, in 1790, lawmakers wanted to make sure certain situations never repeated themselves. A long-term bread shortage, for example, was one of the factors that led to the 1789 French revolution, according to Stephanie Paul, a historian and Paris tour guide.

At the end of this month, containers of Blue Bell ice cream, a staple in Texas and other states, will finally return to store shelves. The company's ice cream has been absent from stores for four months after a wide recall over listeria concerns.

Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. But Laura Martinez faced an obstacle that many people thought would make that dream impossible to fulfill: The 31-year-old chef is blind.

It took two years for Martinez to open La Diosa, her tiny restaurant in Chicago, this past January. In addition to her white chef's jacket, Martinez wears dark sunglasses when she works.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station received a shipment that included whiskey on Monday but they won't be allowed even a taste test.

One evening last July, Nat Bradford walked along rows of White Bolita Mexican corn at his Sumter, S.C., farm, and nearly wept. All 1,400 of the corn plants had been overtaken almost overnight by corn smut, recalls Bradford, who's also a landscape architect. The smut, from a fungus called Ustilago maydis, literally transforms each corn kernel into a bulbous, bulging bluish-grey gall. It is naturally present in the soil and can be lofted easily into the air and onto plants.

Molten mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and yeast are the aromas that punctuate summer in Rome.

On a recent day, 7-year-old Filippo Virgo has a hankering for pizza — a classic of the Eternal City.

The problem is that Filippo has celiac disease. This means he gets sick from eating gluten — a protein found in wheat and other grains. Pizza is usually out of bounds. And, for a second-grader, that's a travesty.

Filippo's family heads inside Il Tulipano Nero, a classic Italian restaurant — right down to the checkered tablecloth.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: Making mayonnaise that's just as delicious as, if not better than, what comes out of the jar.

Throughout the week, Russians have been watching scenes of destruction on the evening news.

It's part of Russia's war against so-called contraband foods, as authorities crush, burn and bury Western food products.

Russian authorities are enforcing a ban on many foods from the European Union, the United States and other nations that have sanctioned Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine.

To say I was not excited about this assignment would be an understatement. An NPR piece about vegetable broth? It seems like a parody — like an NPR piece about Birkenstocks or lattes or, um, knitting. But then Bren Herrera threw open the door to her house in suburban Virginia, and suddenly a radio story seemed possible.

Trying to find healthy food at a state fair awash with deep-fried Oreos and foot-long corn dogs is no easy task.

At the Iowa State Fair, one of the rites of passage is trying food on a stick.

But dietitian Nikki Stahr, who works for the Iowa-based Hy-Vee grocery chain, is running a booth at the fair promoting healthy eating and portion control.

She has her work cut out for her.

There's an old fashioned hand-dipped ice cream stand and a cookie booth right across from her, so she's got some competition for her message of healthy eating.

We've all heard the advice about the importance of filling our bellies in the morning. It's a notion that's based on a blend of intuition, cultural tradition and science.

Some of the earliest evidence goes back to the 1960s when pioneering researchers in Alameda County, Calif., began documenting the effects of everyday habits. Their long-term study linked eating breakfast — along with a host of other lifestyle choices — to good health and longevity.

Food Waste And Beef Fat Will Be Making Airplanes Soar

Aug 20, 2015

What do beef tallow and manure have in common with t-shirts and pine needles? Turns out you can make high-quality, low-carbon transportation fuel with all of them. A growing number of biofuel producers are teaming up with farms, meatpackers and waste management companies to tap gassy waste to meet new demand for renewable jet fuel and diesel for vehicles.

In a grassy Vermont field as a horse skitters in the distance, dancer Chatch Pregger is scaling a makeshift barn. He stretches his arms outward, holding an E for East in his hand. As the chicken feathers on his head flutter in the breeze, it's easy indeed to imagine him as a graceful weathervane rooster.

Does This Phylum Make Me Look Fat?

Aug 20, 2015

We would all love a simple weight-loss plan. Beyond carbs and fats, some studies have hinted that a key group of gut microbes — from the phylum Firmicutes — might be more common among people who are overweight.

Thinner people, these studies suggest, might have more bacteria from the phylum known as Bacteroidetes. Maybe we just need to reestablish a Bacteroidetes-favoring gut to more easily lose weight, some people have said. A stack of diet books has already jumped on the notion.

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