Harvest Desk

Cows' 'Night Milk' May Help You Fall Asleep

Dec 15, 2015
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hey, Audie.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hey there, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What's better for falling asleep than a glass of warm milk?

CORNISH: Hmm.

SHAPIRO: A glass of warm night milk...

CORNISH: Night milk?

Tour the produce section of a modern grocery store and you may conclude that we live in an age of unprecedented variety and abundance.

Indeed, it's never been easier to experience exotic fruit flavors like durian, dragon fruit or lychee and find staple fruits like blueberries and oranges pretty much any time of year.

This week marks the 242nd anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Mad Hatter's tea party. On the surface, these two events seem to have very little in common. But if you'll follow us down the rabbit hole for a bit, you'll find some surprising links.

Food does much more than feed us — it tells the story of who we are. And in the former USSR, that story is full of shortages, public cafeterias, party leader feasts and herring. And quite a bit of mayonnaise.

For anyone paying attention, it's no secret there's a lot of weird stuff going on in the oceans right now. We've got a monster El Nino looming in the Pacific. Ocean acidification is prompting hand wringing among oyster lovers. Migrating fish populations have caused tensions between countries over fishing rights.

To Go Green, Bars Try To Reuse Their Booze

Dec 11, 2015

You probably don't waste a whole lot of wine or booze in your own home. But bars and restaurants throw out alcohol all the time.

The booze, wine and beer left behind in customers' drinks have to be discarded per food safety law, of course.

But what about the wine bottles designated for serving by the glass? Those dregs often go right down the drain.

Looking forward to sipping on spiked eggnog or rum punch while hobnobbing with the boss?

Dipping your cup into the punch bowl at the office holiday party may be festive, but too much alcohol can lead to behavior that might embarrass you later.

Not to fret: The Salt is here with tips to help you stay in control.

There are a couple of things to do before you put on your party shoes.

If you go by their declarations and promises, meat producers are drastically cutting back on the use of antibiotics to treat their poultry, pigs and cattle. Over the past year, one big food company after another has announced plans to stop using these drugs.

But if you go by the government's data on drugs sold to livestock producers, it's a different story.

For a busy man, André Mack is remarkably chill. He runs two companies, designs labels and coloring books and wine pun T-shirts (one reads "Beaune Thugs"), is in an upcoming documentary on minority winewakers in Oregon, and does some wristwatch modeling on the side (it's exactly what it sounds like). Oh, and he has two kids under 10, with a third on the way. "I woke up today, so that's plenty to be thankful for," he tells me when we talk.

As More Israelis Go Vegan, Their Military Adjusts Its Menu

Dec 10, 2015

Omer Yuval was an Israeli reserve soldier when, in the midst of Israel's summer war with Hamas in 2014, he ended up stuck on a base for nearly seven weeks. He had only recently become vegan for health reasons, and he quickly noticed that his options were limited at mealtimes.

"I just had to live on salads and order food from outside the base, using my own money," Yuval says. "I really couldn't manage. Nutrition for vegans came only from side dishes."

If you've found that you are sensitive to gluten — the stretchy protein that makes wheat bread fluffy and pie crusts crisp — perhaps you've had to bear the brunt of the gluten-free backlash.

Is it those holiday parties filled with people eating together? We're not sure, but we keep hearing about new clusters of people getting poisoned by their meals.

The latest outbreak sickened at least 120 people in Boston, most of them students at Boston College.

This included eight members of the college's basketball team. The team is scheduled to play Providence this evening, and as of this morning, it's unclear whether the game will happen.

In America, our food options are remarkably unaffected by the changing seasons. We just keep eating salad greens and tomatoes without regard to the onset of winter.

In most of the country, there's little chance that the greens we eat in the late fall and winter are locally grown.

But if there were greenhouses nearby, they could be. And in a small but growing number of places, local greenhouses are there.

Take Lower Makefield Township, Pa., right across the Delaware River from Trenton, N.J.

If you had traveled to visit Stonehenge around 4,500 years ago, you might have stayed in a village called Durrington Walls, just a couple of miles east of the monument of standing stones. You might have gone to this site in southern England because it was getting close to the winter solstice — and the celebrations at Durrington Walls would have included some pretty incredible feasts.

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is 2015, and jetpacks do not fill the skies of cities, nor are giant space colonies in orbit around Earth, their inhabitants dining on hydroponically grown crops. Nevertheless, we in the affluent West are still living in the future – the future of food.

Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture, food and natural resource sectors each year for the next five years, according to a report from Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

You can thank Chuck Williams for a lot of things we now take for granted in the kitchen.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When Mae Lynn Reyes-Rodríguez was a graduate student in psychology at the University of Puerto Rico in the early 1990s, she learned there were no studies of how many Latinos suffered from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.

Parking fines aren't usually the stuff of holiday cheer. But a few cities around the country are turning them into an opportunity to promote giving, letting drivers cover part or all of their fines with food donations.

#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 four items.

From foreign digital editor Hannah Bloch:

A Southern cooking pioneer has died in her native Tennessee. Phila Rawlings Hach hosted the first television cooking show in the South, evangelizing the virtues of Southern cuisine. She went on to become a cookbook author, restaurateur, innkeeper and catering chef to politicians and military flights.

Hach died Wednesday at the age of 89, according to her son, Joe Hach.

More people who are overweight or obese may get screened for diabetes under guidelines released Tuesday by a panel of prevention experts. As a result, insured people whose blood sugar is higher than normal now can be referred to nutrition and exercise counseling without paying anything out of pocket for it.

"Obesity and overweight have been risk factors all along for diabetes," says Dr. Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "But we haven't had guidelines that actually said, 'Screen those folks.'"

A Confederacy of Dunces has been called a love letter to New Orleans and hailed as a modern comedic classic. Now, a new cookbook looks at the food and culture that help define the characters in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

Set in New Orleans in the 1960s, the novel centers around Ignatius J. Reilly, an over-educated, rotund 30-year-old who lives with his mother in a tiny house and goes about ranting against the modern world while selling hot dogs from his pushcart.

If it's the future, and the end of the world is nigh, it's probably safe to assume that things are looking grim. If all you have to eat is the survivalist food you bought from televangelist Jim Bakker in 2015, then your situation may be considerably worse.

It's impossible to pinpoint the exact moment Americans embraced industrialized food. But the first Christmas after the Civil War is a key date to note. That's when Chicago's infamous Union Stock Yard opened to the public, in 1865.

Mariama Keita grows peanuts the old-fashioned way: using hoes, pitchforks and, when needed, horses as beasts of burden.

She doesn't have a tractor or any mechanized tools.

But the mother of two does have one new weapon in her agricultural arsenal to help keep her farm running: her cellphone.

For the last eight years, Keita has been farming the 10 acres she inherited from her father. The property is in Kaffrine in central Senegal — the country's peanut-growing region.

The coconut has developed a bit of a faddish following in the West.

Today, devotees add coconut oil to coffee, dab it on acne and, following Gwyneth Paltrow's example, swirl it around in their mouths to fight tooth decay. Starbucks has launched a coconut-milk latte. And the coconut-water business has surged to $400 million, with a little help from Madonna and Rihanna.

No one would be more delighted at the coconut's rising star than August Engelhardt, a sun-worshipping German nudist and history's most radical cocovore.

On a recent Saturday, well past lunchtime and nowhere near dinnertime, a line of about 25 patrons ran along the length of a restaurant. Outside, a dozen cars idled at the drive-thru window. By dinnertime, the line had tripled.

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