Harvest Desk

A server at Boralia lifts the foggy glass dome over a dish of briny mussels, releasing the smoky essence of pine and campfire. According to Evelyn Wu, co-owner of this Toronto restaurant, the dish dates back to 1605, and is based on a recipe that French-born explorer Samuel de Champlain made for his men while traveling in Canada.

In the coming months, a few shoppers will encounter a new and unfamiliar phrase when looking at packages of pork: "Produced without the use of ractopamine."

It's the brainchild of David Maren, founder of Tendergrass Farms, which sells pork products from pigs raised the "all-natural" way, on pasture.

Maren first heard about ractopamine years ago, when he was just getting into this business. Maren was talking with his cousin, who raises pigs the conventional way, in big hog houses.

Baskets of perfectly seasoned deep-fried chicken sizzle during lunch hour at Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans, a city famous for its food. But the real magic happens early in the morning, when Leah Chase, 92, arrives to prepare the day's specials.

"I made meatloaf today. Smothered pork chops. I did oyster and artichoke soup," says Chase.

Dooky Chase is a landmark in the city's historically African-American Treme neighborhood.

Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher, once likened eating alone to "leading the life of a lion or wolf." This philosopher of pleasures, it seems, was a big fan of companionship. Communal meals are woven into our DNA.

But a lot of us are lone wolves these days when it comes to dining. New research finds 46 percent of adult eating occasions — that's meals and snacks — are undertaken alone.

If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've probably gotten drawn into the argument over whether it's better to cut carbs or fat from your diet. A new study doesn't completely resolve that question, but it does provide an important insight.

Some proponents of the low-carb diet insist that you must cut carbs to burn off body fat. Their reasoning goes that when you cut carbs, your body's insulin levels drop, and that's essential in order to burn fat.

It had to happen. For years, the Wheaties slogan – "breakfast of champions" — has been invoked by beer lovers who pop open an adult beverage before noon. Now the cereal company is putting its name and logo on a beer.

That beer is called HefeWheaties, the result of a collaboration between two Minneapolis companies: cereal-maker General Mills and brewer Fulton Beer. As the name implies, the beer is a hefeweizen, the German style that relies on wheat for its base.

At a Basque restaurant nestled in the green hills just outside the Spanish city of Bilbao, head cook Itziar Eguileor gestures toward a dumpster out back.

"This all used to go into the garbage," she says, lugging a huge pot of leftover boiled artichokes. "But now, these artichokes, we pack them in Tupperware, load them into our old Land Rover and drive them over to Solidarity Fridge."

If you want to hang out with a bunch of bees, you'd better be prepared for a little pain.

Mario Padilla, a honeybee researcher at Penn State University, can usually tell when his hives are getting agitated. But he's already been stung three times today. And he's about to get it again.

"I got stung!" Padilla says, half-laughing. "And that was a sting that was not even an invited sting. That was an I-was-minding-my-own-business sting."

Scientists are a driven bunch, dedicated and passionate about understanding the inner workings of the world. You must be focused, willing to work strange hours in every kind of weather. Willing to go beyond the known and be constantly inspired by your curiosity.

It takes guts to be a scientist. And a strong stomach doesn't hurt, either.

The Matthew family farm, M&M&m Farms, outside of La Harpe, Ill., looks different from the farms surrounding it. It’s not filled with neat rows of soybeans or lines of corn that’s over-my-head high in late July. The Matthew’s place is a bit more disorganized and far more diverse.

“A lot of people grow corn or beans,” Mitchell Matthew tells me as we take an afternoon stroll around his parent’s hilltop property. “Here, we grow everything. Everything you can think of.”

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, is attempting to swallow up the chemical operations of Syngenta, the world’s largest producer of pesticides and other farm inputs. The proposed deal signals a change in focus for the agricultural giant, and could have ripple effects across farm country.

By its own admission, Monsanto lags behind in chemistry research. To boost its research in chemistry, and possibly find new ways to combine chemicals and biotech crops, Monsanto wants to buy the Swiss chemical company.

Unfolding The History Of Napkin Art

Aug 12, 2015

Napkins today are mundane and practical, made from paper or cheap factory cloth and folded, if at all, hastily into a rectangle. In the past, napkins weren't just for wiping hands or protecting clothing — they were works of art.

Could the next big thing in alternative proteins be a something tiny and green?

Many of the Republican presidential candidates have a hefty goal in Iowa ahead of its first-in-nation caucuses: make a campaign stop in all of the state's 99 counties. Along the way, presidential hopefuls are turning to the Iowa-based restaurant chain Pizza Ranch, whose ubiquity and inexpensive cuisine have made it a staple of the caucus campaign trail.

A version of this story was published Dec. 5, 2012.

Given tea's rap today as both a popular pick-me-up and a health elixir, it's hard to imagine that sipping tea was once thought of as a reckless, suspicious act, linked to revolutionary feminism.

For the past nine years, some of America's biggest producers of fresh salad greens and vegetables have been waging a quiet war on wildlife surrounding their fields, all in an effort to keep your veggies free of contamination from disease-causing bacteria.

Now, a fresh analysis of safety data suggests that the effort is mostly in vain. Clearing away wildlife habitat does not make food any safer.

In space, food is freeze-dried, prepackaged, and frankly not always very tasty. But on Monday aboard the International Space Station, astronauts got a rare treat: fresh lettuce.

The red romaine lettuce was grown by NASA's Veggie project, which has one goal — to bring salad to space.

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



There's something romantic about absinthe — that naturally green liquor derived from wormwood and herbs like anise or fennel. Vincent Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde drank it. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso filled the glasses of cafe patrons with absinthe in their paintings. Absinthe was a drink of aesthetes.

Update at 5:20 p.m. ET: Space Lettuce Tastes 'Awesome'

Monday morning on the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren and astronaut Kimiya Yui of Japan sampled the "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce, the first plant grown in space. The trio first sanitized the leaves and then dressed them with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. According to Kelly, the lettuce tasted "kind of like arugula." Lindgren was unequivocally pleased, taking a big bite of one of the leaves and declaring: "That's awesome."

School is still out for the summer, but at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, D.C., students are hard at work — outdoors.

In a garden filled with flowers and beds bursting with vegetables and herbs, nearly a dozen teenagers are harvesting vegetables for the weekend's farmers market.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on August 9, 2015.

Fresh air, the smell of pine trees, the sounds of birds chirping and brooks babbling — all of these have helped American city-dwellers unwind for generations. But in the era of Jim Crow segregation, nature's calm also gave African-Americans a temporary respite from racism and discrimination.

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: We learn an unusual technique for cooking eggs to give you a silky, yolky sauce for huevos racheros.

In tiny Tupper Lake, N.Y., a tourist destination in the Adirondacks, the Donut Shop serves up more than just donuts.

The Donut Shop also a laundromat, with a store selling knick knacks and souvenirs on the side. Co-owner Tina Merrihew says it's a winning combination.

"About 25 years ago, we bought it, and after cleaning out, we realized we had a lot of space in here, so we added the store," Merrihew says.

Locals and out-of-towners can come in with their dirty clothes and sit for a while with a coffee and watch it spin.

Sumo Breakfast Of Champions: Bowls And Bowls Of Clay Pot Stew

Aug 7, 2015

At the U.S. Sumo Open on Saturday in Long Beach, Calif., roughly 60 sumo wrestlers from around the world will face off at one of the largest sumo competitions outside Japan.

To the untrained eye, they may look like pudgy giants in underwear shoving each other around a ring. But this is a sport and there's a lot to it. Pros have to master 82 winning techniques, and follow strict training regimens that include weight lifting and flexibility exercises.

Men who work out may be using legal over-the-counter supplements to the point that it's harming their emotional or physiological health, according to a recent study.

Some days, the french fries are just irresistible. You know it's not the best thing to put in your body, but did that salad really stand a chance after the smell of fried garlic, Parmesan and thyme on crisp potato wedges wafted over to you?

An online food service offered a special promotion during last night's Republican debate: A free taco for every time Donald Trump said "Mexico," which turned out to be a platterful.

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


Whether it's a clam bake, a salmon steak or a fried shrimp po' boy, Americans have strong traditions of eating fish.

But the majority of us aren't eating as much as we should to be healthy.

In a highly publicized move, Russia is destroying tons of food that was illegally imported from Western countries. One year after a ban on Western agricultural products began, bulldozers and incinerators reportedly are being used to enforce the prohibition.