Harvest Desk

The Salt
10:33 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Cramped Chicken Cages Are Going Away. What Comes Next?

Free-range houses allow chickens to move around freely, but operating costs were 23 percent higher than for traditional cages, according to a new study.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 2:57 pm

For the past two years, at an undisclosed location in the Upper Midwest, a large commercial egg farm has been probed with every tool of modern science. Researchers have collected data on feed consumed, eggs produced, rates of chicken death and injury, levels of dust in the air, microbial contamination and dollars spent. Graduate students have been assigned to watch hours of video of the hens in an effort to rate the animals' well-being.

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The Salt
3:26 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Pain From The Grain: Corn Belt Towns Languish As Prices Drop

With corn production expected to remain high, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting that prices will continue to fall well into next year.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 5:27 pm

On a recent snowy afternoon on a farm in central Illinois, Dan Byers parked his pickup at the end of a dirt road and looked over some of his fertile land. A few years ago, high grain prices earned farmers here about $400 per acre for their corn and soybean crops. This year, it's possible that every acre Byers farms will cost him $50.

"It just takes a certain amount of fixed money to put a crop in and raise it," says Byers. "At today's prices, not much of anything works right now until there's a rebound."

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The Salt
3:00 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

This Spanish Pig-Slaughtering Tradition Is Rooted In Sustainability

Pig farmer Armando Escaño stands with his Iberian pigs on his farm on western Spain's dehesa. Escaño raises pigs for jamón ibérico, Spain's most prized ham.
Lauren Frayer for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:51 pm

In Spain, an age-old way of surviving the winter is getting some new attention from foodies worldwide. It's called la matanza — literally, the killing of a pig. It's an ancient ritual in danger of dying out, amid an influx of commercial abattoirs and modern supermarkets. But Spain's matanza is now getting renewed interest from farm-to-table food enthusiasts.

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The Salt
10:37 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Cowboy Cravings: Fried Cookie Dough And Other Rodeo Calorie Bombs

(Left to right) Rodeo concessions include the loaded potato; deep-fried chocolate cupcake and the Texas Tater Twister, a spiral-cut tater on a sausage, deep-fried.
(Left and Center)Robert Young/Flickr; Dave 77459/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 6:06 pm

American state fairs have gotten competitive about wowing fair-goers (and the media) with their ever more outrageous concessions.

Among the immoderate new dishes of 2014? The cheeseburger stuffed with macaroni and cheese on a Krispy Kreme bun at the California State Fair, and the deep-fried breakfast on-a-stick at the Minnesota State Fair.

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Food
4:38 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Tea Not For Two (Minutes, That Is)

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 11:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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The Salt
2:12 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis during a guest appearance on ABC's The Chew last fall. She can cook rich foods and keep her trim figure, but new research suggests that's a difficult feat for amateur cooks watching along at home.
Lou Rocco ABC/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 12:37 pm

If you've ever watched Giada de Laurentiis make gooey chocolate-hazelnut spread or a rich carbonara pasta dish, you may have wondered: How can she cook like this and maintain her slim figure?

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The Salt
4:59 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: Gift Of The Moon, Bane Of The Spanish — The Story Of Yerba Mate

A gourd of yerba mate. Legend has it that the moon gifted this infusion to the Guaraní people of South America.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 3:02 pm

In 1616, Hernando Arias de Saavedra, the governor of the Spanish province that included Buenos Aires, banned the population from drinking a green herbal drink called yerba mate.

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The Salt
1:46 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

To Eat Authentically Irish This St. Patrick's Day, Go For The Butter

Butter labels from Irish creameries operating in the 1970s.
Roland Paschhoff Cork Butter Museum

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 1:11 pm

As scholarly buzzkills have long told us, corned beef isn't really Irish. So what to do if you want a taste of the Emerald Isle on St. Patrick's Day? Instead of green, maybe look for yellow — a pat of Irish butter. Although most Americans are familiar with images of Ireland's rolling green hills, few realize that those hills are the secret to a deliciously buttery empire.

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The Salt
11:43 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Meet Chef Chane, Ethiopia's Version Of The Infamous 'Soup Nazi'

Inside Chef Chane's tiny kitchen. Every few months or years, his landlord — taking note of Chane's popularity — will raise the rent, or a conniving official will demand a bribe. Then, instead of bowing to the system, Chane will disappear and set up in a new location.
Gregory Warner/NPR

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:17 am

I didn't travel all the way to Ethiopia just to meet a character out of the sitcom Seinfeld.

But when I heard Ethiopians describe a particular popular restaurant called Chane's, I couldn't help recognize a resemblance, in its owner and lead chef, to the famously brusque soup man.

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The Salt
12:45 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Sandwich Monday: Bone-In Pork Chop Sandwich

The bone stays in, the grease goes everywhere.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 2:09 pm

There are dangerous sandwiches out there: the Wendy's Sharpened Chicken Classic, the McRib that's always sending you emails with questionable attachments. But they pale in comparison to the famous pork chop sandwich from Jim's Original in Chicago: Jim leaves the bone in.

Eva: The bone also serves as a useful sandwich handle.

Miles: Eating a bone-in sandwich is the lazy person's equivalent of free-climbing a mountain. The danger just adds to the rush.

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The Salt
11:24 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Looks Matter: A Century Of Iconic Food Packaging

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:49 pm

We take the packaging our food comes in for granted. Yet many of the boxes, bags and bottles that protect our edibles were once groundbreaking — both in their design and in how they changed our perception of what's inside. Sometimes, packaging is so distinctive, it transforms food from mere consumer product to cultural icon. As Stephen Heller, author of more than 100 books on design and popular culture, says, "Coca-Cola is not a bottle of soda — it's Coca-Cola."

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Food
6:53 am
Sun March 15, 2015

The Elixir Du Jour: Bone Broth

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 10:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
4:24 am
Sun March 15, 2015

The Fate Of The World's Chocolate Depends On This Spot In Rural England

Rows of potted cocoa plants from around the world. Before a cocoa variety from one country can be planted in another, it first makes a pit stop here, at a quarantine center in rural England.
Courtesy of Dr. Andrew J. Daymond

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:49 pm

Walk into a row of greenhouses in rural Britain, and a late English-winter day transforms to a swampy, humid tropical afternoon. You could be in Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa, which is exactly how cocoa plants like it.

"It's all right this time of year. It gets a bit hot later on in the summer," says greenhouse technician Heather Lake as she fiddles with a tray of seedlings — a platter of delicate, spindly, baby cocoa plants.

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The Salt
8:28 am
Sat March 14, 2015

Pi Day Isn't Just Magical, It's Mathematics. And There's Pie!

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 9:04 am

We bring you this story in case you want to get baking.

That's because Saturday is Pi Day — but it's not just any pi day.

It's March 14* of the year '15, or 3-14-15 — the first five digits of the number pi. It's a confluence that won't happen again for a hundred years. Math geeks are excited.

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The Salt
6:48 am
Sat March 14, 2015

The Family Peach Farm That Became A Symbol Of The Food Revolution

Mas Masumoto grew up on his family farm southeast of Fresno, Calif. His 1987 essay "Epitaph for A Peach," in which he bemoaned the loss of heirloom flavors, captured his changing philosophy as a farmer. It also helped turn his farm into a landmark in the local-food movement.
Dan Charles/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:50 pm

In the heart of California's Central Valley, a vast expanse of orchards, vineyards, and vegetable fields, lies a small collection of aging peach trees. Farmer Mas Masumoto's decision to preserve those trees, and then to write about it, became a symbol of resistance to machine-driven food production.

Yet the Masumoto farm's story isn't just one of saving peaches. It's become a father-daughter saga of claiming, abandoning, and then re-claiming a piece of America's agricultural heritage.

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Code Switch
4:29 am
Sat March 14, 2015

Off The Menu: Realness Is A Matter Of Taste

What kind of red wine pairs well with Chinese takeout?
Matthew Mead AP

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 6:47 pm

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Food
4:36 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

A Pie For A Pie ... Day, That Is

"It's sunshine on a plate," says pastry chef and cookbook author Gesine Bullock-Prado, of her Mango Key Lime Pie.
Tina Rupp Stewart, Tabori and Chang

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:00 pm

"Never underestimate the power of pie."

Those wise words come from pastry chef and pie maven Gesine Bullock-Prado, and are especially timely this weekend. That's because Saturday is March 14, also known to math students as Pi Day.

Pi, in case you've forgotten your middle school algebra, is the mathematical constant that represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It's a number with infinite digits that has been calculated to more than 1 trillion digits beyond the decimal point — but most people know it simply as 3.14.

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The Salt
10:40 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Making Pies For Pi Day: Think Inside The Circle

Claire O'Neill/NPR

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 5:03 pm

Editor's note: A version of this story was published in March 2011.

Get ready to roll out some dough, because it's almost Pi Day.

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The Salt
6:03 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Behold! The Cosmos Created From The Contents Of A Kitchen

Planet: bottom of a glass containing half and half, water, food coloring. Moons: bottom of a glass containing coconut milk, water, food coloring. Stars: salt, cinnamon, baking powder, Tums.
Navid Baraty

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 11:13 am

Surely, you've heard of making food in space. Astronauts have to eat, right?

But perhaps you hadn't considered making space out of food. Navid Baraty, a freelance photographer in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, arranges common pantry items to create strikingly accurate-looking photos of an imaginary cosmos.

"I'm a really big space geek," Baraty tells The Salt. "I'll look at NASA images or Hubble images to see how things were placed in the sky, and I try to make things as realistic as possible."

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The Salt
4:29 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

A Craft Beer Tax Battle Is Brewing On Capitol Hill

Brewers pay a federal tax on each barrel of beer they produce. Two proposals on Capitol Hill would lower that tax for small brewers, but not everyone's on board.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:49 am

Congressman Patrick McHenry is a man who knows his beer. The refrigerator in his Capitol Hill office is filled to the brim with it. The Republican's district includes the city of Asheville, N.C., which claims it has more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city.

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The Salt
2:46 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Southerners Are Getting Creative With Their Favorite Nut: Pecan

Toasting or roasting brings nut oils to the surface, and pecans are practically overflowing: 75 percent of the nut is pure oil.
Ashley Fisher/Flickr

Few dishes showcase Southern tradition more perfectly than a slice of pecan pie, with its dark custard filling and crunchy, nutty topping.

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Harvest Desk
1:05 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Bird Flu Found In Midwest

Investigators have discovered avian flu in commercial poultry flocks in Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas. (File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

A highly contagious strain of bird flu has officially made its way to the Midwest.

The disease was confirmed Tuesday in two separate commercial turkey flocks in Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the USDA.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 am
Thu March 12, 2015

When Life Overwhelms, This Group Lends A Healthy Hand

Ella Barnes-Williams visits the thrift shop associated with Martha's Table, a nonprofit social services organization in Washington, D.C.
Anders Kelto/NPR

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 1:03 pm

Ella Barnes-Williams is dealing with a lot right now.

For starters, her government-subsidized house in Northeast Washington, D.C., leaks when it rains. She points at a big brown splotch on the ceiling.

"It's like mold, mold, mold all over," she says. "I've got to clean that now 'cause that just came back."

Barnes-Williams is 54 and lives with her 30-year-old daughter and three young grandchildren. All three grandkids have severe asthma, which makes the mold a serious problem. And she and her daughter are diabetic.

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The Salt
4:35 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Why Some Schools Serve Local Food And Others Can't (Or Won't)

A lunch served by the Yarmouth, Maine, School Department on Sept. 26, 2014, featured Sloppy Joe's made with Maine beef and local beets, carrots, apples and potato salad. More than 80 percent of Maine schools said they served local foods in a survey conducted by the USDA.
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 3:23 pm

For many years, if a public school district wanted to serve students apples or milk from local farmers, it could face all kinds of hurdles. Schools were locked into strict contracts with distributors, few of whom saw any reason to start bringing in local products. Those contracts also often precluded schools from working directly with local farmers.

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Food
3:36 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Some Organic Food Labels Are A Little Fishy

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 9:40 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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The Salt
10:33 am
Wed March 11, 2015

From Ancient Sumeria To Chipotle Tacos, Cumin Has Spiced Up The World

The cuisines of the classical world made use of cumin both as a flavoring and a drug.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:44 am

I first encountered cumin in suburban New Jersey around 1988. Indian food was just starting to penetrate the suburbs, and a trip to the new Indian restaurant in the next town had, literally, the whiff of adventure about it.

As I took in the many new tastes and aromas from curries and kormas, one stood out: what I deemed the "the sweaty shirt spice," or cumin.

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The Salt
10:12 am
Wed March 11, 2015

How Big Sugar Steered Research On A 'Tooth Decay Vaccine'

Garry Gay Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 2:18 pm

Sugar can promote tooth decay. Duh.

So if you want good oral health, it makes sense to brush and floss regularly and perhaps limit the amount of sugar you consume. Right?

In 2015, this may seem fairly obvious.

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The Salt
4:03 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: The Scottish Spy Who Stole China's Tea Empire

Robert Fortune was a 19th-century Scottish botanist who helped the East India Trading Company swipe the secrets of tea production from China.
Apic/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:44 am

Editor's Note: A version of this story originally ran in March 2010.

In the mid-19th century, Britain was an almost unchallenged empire. It controlled about a fifth of the world's surface, and yet its weakness had everything to do with tiny leaves soaked in hot water: tea. By 1800, it was easily the most popular drink among Britons.

The problem? All the tea in the world came from China, and Britain couldn't control the quality or the price. So around 1850, a group of British businessmen set out to create a tea industry in a place they did control: India.

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The Salt
1:25 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

'Test Kitchen': How To Make Vegetarian Dishes Pop With A Little Umami

Jack Bishop says it's the soy sauce in the Mushroom Bolognese that really makes it pop.
Joe Keller Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:46 am

Just because a meal is vegetarian doesn't mean it can't be "meaty." One trick to heighten the depth of flavors in plant-based dishes? Use ingredients that offer a pop of umami, say Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop of America's Test Kitchen, who have released the new cookbook The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.

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The Salt
11:32 am
Tue March 10, 2015

The Accidental Hunter: For One Outdoorsman, Roadkill Is His Only Red Meat

Jeff Potter feeds roadkill pheasant to his kids, Lucy and Henry.
Courtesy of Jeff Potter

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 4:16 pm

All winter long, Jeff Potter has been fielding the phone calls. They started coming in after the first frosts. "Last autumn, my brother phones on his way home from the grocery: 'I was driving to the store and there wasn't a deer in the road, but on the way back there was, so it's gotta be fresh!' "

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