Harvest Desk

In Florida, homeowners have a propensity for landscaping. They take great pride in the green carpet of grass in front of their homes. But one Florida man is working on a project that's turning his neighbors' lawns into working farms.

Chris Castro has an obsession — turning the perfectly manicured lawns in his Orlando neighborhood into mini-farms.

"The amount of interest in Orlando is incredibly surprising," Castro says.

In recent years, there's been a no-tipping movement within the restaurant industry.

The idea has been to rectify a basic pay unfairness to even out the pay between tipped and untipped employees. Dishwashers and cooks at the back of the house don't earn as much money as waiters because they don't get tips.

So, do away with tipping, raise menu prices a little bit, and pay everyone a higher wage.

In Hindi, the saying goes that to survive, you need three things: roti, meaning bread or food, kapda or clothing, and makaan, shelter.

India has a roti problem. While the country has catapulted to No. 3 in the world for obesity, it's also the hungriest country in the world.

Known for freeways more than forests, Los Angeles isn't the first place one thinks of when it comes to foraging for food in the wilderness. But for Pascal Baudar, the city is a treasure trove of hundreds of varieties of wild plants and insects that he uses in unusual culinary creations.

An unlikely class of college graduates will walk the stage on Saturday. They're the product of intensive three-year bachelor's degree program in computer science called CSin3. We first told you about it when it launched three years ago.

This weekend, the Italian city of Naples wants the world to know that it is the heart and soul of pizza. And to prove it, 100 chefs are teaming up for 11 hours to make the planet's longest pizza – 2 kilometers, to be exact.

"Pizza was born in Naples," says Alessandro Marinacci, who helped organize the smackdown with Caputo flour, "but the record was made in Milan." Last year, Milan's pizza clocked in at just over 1.5 kilometers.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? And does eating a morning meal help us maintain a healthy weight?

The breakfast-is-best dogma is based on a blend of cultural tradition and science (and more than a little cereal marketing.)

A prominent and outspoken fisheries scientist at the University of Washington is under attack from Greenpeace for not disclosing industry funding in several scientific papers stretching back to 2006.

Sugar, you might think, is just sugar, no matter where it comes from. But not anymore.

About half of all sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, and the other half comes from sugar cane. Now, for the first time, sugar traders are treating these as two different commodities, with two different prices.

The old phrase "walking on eggshells" actually gives the honest egg a bad rap. Eggs are domes, and domes are among the strongest structures in the natural world. Joe Palca and intern Madeline Sofia demonstrate the strength of the egg in this video installment of "Joe's Big Idea." Watch and marvel as the eggs withstand a gallon of water, bowling balls and ... Joe himself? Take a look to learn about what gives frail eggshells their strength!

Cows are notoriously gassy creatures. Globally, more than a third of methane generated by human activity comes from livestock farming, a good deal of it in the form of bovine belching (yes, belching — not the other end). This is a serious problem, given that methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.

Enter a Danish research team that is testing out one potential solution in the form of an unassuming herb: oregano.

Scientists have found a microbe that does something textbooks say is impossible: It's a complex cell that survives without mitochondria.

Mitochondria are the powerhouses inside eukaryotic cells, the type of complicated cell that makes up people, other critters and plants and fungi. All eukaryotic cells contain a nucleus and little organelles — and one of the most famous was the mitochondrion.

Renate Senter clearly remembers the first care package she received, in 1946. She, her mother and her sister had fled Poland. In the aftermath of World War II, they'd ended up in a small town, in the British-controlled section of West Germany. "It was my first day of school and all the children got one," she says. "And I remember it was a small package — burgundy. And in white letters, it said 'CARE' on it."

Crispy fried sardines. Spicy labneh dip for sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers. Chilled arugula lemonade.

The top U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem, Counsel General Donald Blome, served Gaza-style cuisine at a garden party Monday night. Sound like the old-fashioned society pages? Nope. This is U.S. policy at work.

The event was designed to promote the potential of agribusiness in Gaza and tout new U.S. government investment in that crowded, narrow strip of Palestinian territory on the Mediterranean Sea.

When Mariko Becker wants a particular kind of Japanese noodle, she can't find it near her northeast Ohio home.

"[I like the kind that] is tied, knotted, very convenient, but you can't get it," she says.

Becker is Japanese, and she's lived in various Ohio cities for more than 20 years. She says Asian markets are good for common things like soy sauce, but not specialty items.

"When you get into some Japanese brand, or specifically catered to some sort of cooking style, then it's a little bit harder," Becker says.

The Food and Drug Administration is re-evaluating its definition of what counts as a "healthy" food.

The change comes as healthful fats — including fats found in nuts — are increasingly recognized as part of a good diet.

Currently, if a food company wants to put a "healthy" claim on its label, regulations stipulate that it must be very low in fat. The specific rules are complex, but, for instance, a snack food can contain no more than 3 grams of fat for a regular-size serving.

This means that many snacks that include nuts don't qualify as healthy.

Here are two obvious statements: One, many teenagers love fast food. Two, many of them hate listening to adults. And these are real problems if you're a fast food company.

Increasingly, companies like Taco Bell and McDonald's are trying very hard to reach teens like me by using social media. Over the past few months, I've been working with NPR business reporter Sonari Glinton to examine how well some of these campaigns are working — including asking some of my friends at Youth Radio to weigh in.

The chef picked up the nubby stick of fresh wasabi. Through a translator, he explained the good ones are straight and deep green in color. It was the first time I had seen it fresh. The green dab you get at most American sushi restaurants is almost always horseradish and food coloring squeezed from a tube. While that may have been my introduction to freshly harvested wasabi, it wasn't my first time seeing something far more precious — Pacific bluefin tuna.

A body mass index under 25 is deemed normal and healthy, and a higher BMI that's "overweight" or "obese" is not. But that might be changing, at least when it comes to risk of death.

The body mass index, or BMI, associated with the lowest risk of death has increased since the 1970s, a study finds, from 23.7, in the "normal" weight category, to 27, which is deemed "overweight."

Turn on the TV and you can barely escape the acronym TPP.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other countries that's currently being negotiated. Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are deriding the TPP, saying it's a bum deal that will hurt the U.S. economy and especially low-wage workers.

Schools across the U.S. served more than 5 billion meals in the national school lunch program to millions of students last year. Each one of the meals has to meet federal rules for nutrition. Now, those rules are up for debate and Congress could impose changes on the cafeteria.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

For This Vineyard, It's Duck, Duck, Booze

May 7, 2016

On Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, about a thousand Indian runner ducks parade twice a day into a vineyard to rid it of pests. It's a remarkably orderly scene.

If I say Kentucky Derby, you say ... mint julep?

Well, if you're a Kentucky dame like me you do. As my fellow Louisville native Jesse Baker once pointed out: "It ain't Derby without a mint julep."

Race fans have been drinking mint juleps at Churchill Downs in Louisville since the racetrack's inception in 1875, according to bourbon historian Fred Minnick.

Last year, Seattle began phasing in a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Businesses with more than 500 employees are all required to pay that wage by 2018. Smaller companies have until 2021 to comply, but some entrepreneurs are embracing the call for a higher minimum wage ahead of schedule.

One of them is Renee Erickson, a Seattle chef, who this week won the 2016 James Beard Award as the best chef in the Northwest. She employs 100 people at her restaurant group.

Let's say you're an environmentally motivated eater. You want your diet to do as little damage as possible to our planet's forests and grasslands and wildlife.

But how do you decide which food is greener?

Take one example: sugar. About half of America's sugar comes from sugar cane, and half from sugar beets. They grow in completely different climates. Sugar cane is a tropical crop, and sugar beets grow where it's colder and dryer.

Each one has an impact on the environment — sometimes a dramatic impact — but in very different ways.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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

¿Que qué?! You ask. Hear me out.

On paper, sending surplus U.S. peanuts to feed 140,000 malnourished Haitian schoolchildren for a full year sounds like a heroic plan. Instead, it's united 60 aid groups that are urgently calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to halt a shipment containing 500 metric tons of peanuts, preventing the legumes from reaching Haiti.

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