Harvest Desk

Americans have a big appetite for everything meat. We smoke it, grill it, slice it, and chop it. The typical American puts away around 200 pounds of beef, pork, and poultry every year.

It was 2 p.m. at the Code Switch desk and conversation turned, as it often does in post-post-lunch stupor, to snacks. Who had some? Who needed some? Why does the NPR cafeteria close so early? (It's called, are you ready for this, Sound Bites.) Doesn't anyone have a Toblerone stashed in a drawer?

Mark Noltner, who lives in suburban Chicago, heard about McTeacher's Nights when he found a flier in his daughter's backpack last year.

"There was a picture of Ronald McDonald [on the flier]," he says, and it was promoting the school fundraiser at a local McDonald's.

During McTeacher's Nights, teachers stand behind the counter at McDonald's, serving up food to their students who come in. At the end of the event, the school gets a cut of the night's sales.

Nowadays consumers are more willing to pay extra for a rack of ribs if it's produced nearby. A local bone-in ribeye, on average, costs about $1 more than a conventional steak. A pound of local sliced bacon has a $2 upcharge, according to retail reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What are we paying for when we pay more for local meat? Lots of things. But small producers say one key issue that's holding them back, and driving up costs, is the strict rules when it comes to how they slaughter their animals.

From floating old food in Jell-O molds to casseroles to cold pizza, the way we reuse and eat leftovers in America is special.

And it turns out that if you track our relationship with leftovers over time, you will understand a lot about our economy and how we live.

Tens of thousands of Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for problems caused by dietary supplements, federal health officials are reporting.

The complications include heart problems such as irregular or rapid heartbeat or chest pain, says Dr. Andrew Geller of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In mid-November, diners at the New York restaurants Gramercy Tavern and The Modern may notice something new on their menus: higher prices, across the board.

Why You Might Want To Be Drinking Beet Juice At The Gym

Oct 14, 2015

The iconic cartoon character Popeye became most famous for his slapstick routine of eating a can of spinach, then attaining superpowers that he often used to give his gigantic nemesis Bluto a severe pummeling.

But Bluto might be lucky that Popeye never got his hands on a glass of beet juice.

If you're in the habit of drinking wine with dinner, there may be a bonus beyond the enjoyment of sipping a glass at night.

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine adds to the evidence that drinking a moderate amount of wine can be good for your health.

The evidence comes from a new two-year-long study on people with diabetes.

Earlier this month, Wal-Mart trumpeted that it had beaten a goal it set five years ago: to open at least 275 stores in food deserts by 2016. That targeted expansion into "neighborhoods without access to fresh affordable groceries" came as part of the retailer's "healthier food initiative," lauded by — and launched with — First Lady Michelle Obama in 2011.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

After rejecting a number of earlier offers, British-based beer company SABMiller accepted in principle a 69 billion British pound ($106 billion) offer from Budweiser brewer Anheuser Busch InBev.

If Tuesday's agreement is finalized, the new beer company will be the largest in the world and control two top U.S. brands in Budweiser and Miller Genuine Draft, according to The Associated Press.

On an early spring day in 2012, a half-dozen FBI agents entered a house in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia. It belonged to an Indonesian named Rudy Kurniawan.

Big food companies are buying up small ones. Honest Tea is now part of Coca-Cola. The French company Danone controls Stonyfield yogurt. Hormel owns Applegate natural and organic meats.

China’s rapid industrialization and economic expansion over the past few decades has been a boon for U.S. farmers — especially soybean farmers. But China’s economy is slowing down, leaving American farmers exposed to the downside of being tied to the world’s second largest economy.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department Health and Human Services convene an advisory committee to develop dietary guidelines based on the latest scientific and medical research. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines won't be released until later this year, but they're already generating debate.

Artists Document Farmland's Transition To Wetland

Oct 12, 2015
Rich Egger

The Emiquon Corps of Discovery describes itself as a group of volunteers trained to analyze with the mind of a scientist, see with the eyes of an artist, and speak with the words of a poet. And that's what they've done for 10 years on the 9,000 acre Emiquon Nature Preserve along the Illinois River near Lewistown.

It's pumpkin-selling season, and crowds are flocking to farms to pick out their own jack-o'-lanterns. But this year, challenging weather conditions have cut the supply of pumpkins — both for carving and canning.

Heavy summer rains in parts of the Midwest and elsewhere have left many farmers short on pumpkins. And in California, drought has squeezed the crop.

Biking Behind Bars: Female Inmates Battle Weight Gain

Oct 11, 2015

The gym at Riverside Correctional Facility in Philadelphia is through the metal detector, two heavy doors and down the hall.

There's a basketball court like one you'd see at any high school, except there's a corrections officer on guard near the 3-point line.

Sixteen stationary bikes are set up in a half-circle in the corner. On bike No. 2, Lakiesha Montgomery, 32, from Philadelphia, is pedaling fast and singing along to the Nicki Minaj song "Fly."

"I didn't think I'd be able to keep up; I'm not the skinniest thing in the bunch," she says.

If you've never tasted a pawpaw, now is the moment.

For just a few weeks every year in September and October, this native, mango-like fruit falls from trees, everywhere from Virginia to Kansas and many points westward. (We discovered them several years back along the banks of the Potomac River when we ran into some kayakers who were snacking on them.)

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

Oct 9, 2015

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in eastern Washington state, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

Chef Paul Prudhomme, who died Thursday at age 75, was born on a farm in the Cajun town of Opelousas, La. He worked in restaurants around the country before landing his big break with the Brennan family at New Orleans' Commanders Palace.

"Man, in New Orleans we really are fortunate — we got some of the best things in the world," Chef Paul Prudhomme once said. "And one of those things is the muffuletta sandwich."

And one of the best things about New Orleans was Prudhomme himself.

He was known for introducing blackened redfish to the rest of us, for his cooking demos and for his line of magic spices. Needless to say, Prudhomme changed the way the world saw Louisiana cooking.

He has died at the age of 75.

Paul Prudhomme, the internationally renowned Louisiana chef who popularized Cajun and Creole cuisine around the world, died Thursday morning. He was 75.

It's hard to overstate Prudhomme's influence on Cajun and Creole food. JoAnn Clevenger, owner of Upperline restaurant in New Orleans, says Prudhomme modernized it but kept the distinctive flavors.

Public health advocates have argued that one of the best ways to fight obesity would be to tax the sugary drinks that science has implicated as a big part of the problem.

Paper or plastic? If you're at a restaurant in the coastal city of Fort Bragg, Calif., that's what your food is likely to be served on these days.

The drought-stricken city, located about 170 miles north of San Francisco, recently declared a "stage 3" water emergency, which makes it mandatory for businesses and residents to reduce water usage.

Grapes, including raisins, are the third largest crop in California grossing almost $6 billion in 2014. Harvesting the labor-intensive crop takes thousands of workers. But a new raisin grape variety bred in Central California could severely decrease that need for workers.

It takes a lot of hand labor to harvest raisins, three or more rounds of pruning, quality control and picking. And to pay those workers costs a lot of money. That's why the raisin industry is desperately searching for a way to spend less on labor creating a larger profit margin.

The tradition of lavish, super-indulgent dinners in America, says Becky Libourel Diamond, author of the soon-to-be-published book The Thousand Dollar Dinner, comes from the fact that our country has always been known as the Land of Opportunity for Pursuers of Happiness.

Pass the champagne and caviar.

In Napa, Calif., a company called Free Flow Wines fills and dispenses reusable wine kegs, which are used by restaurants and bars for serving wine on draft. Every month, the company rinses and refills about 10,000 of the stainless steel casks, each of which eliminates the need for 26 clunky wine bottles.

This is a small win for the environment, since glass bottles are heavy and require energy to ship.

For Anheuser-Busch InBev, the third time was not the charm. After the Belgian beer giant boosted its offer to purchase SABMiller, its largest rival, SABMiller rejected the $104 billion cash bid Wednesday, saying AB InBev "still very substantially" undervalues the maker of Miller Lite and Coors.

"SABMiller is the crown jewel of the global brewing industry, uniquely positioned to continue to generate decades of standalone future volume and value growth for all SABMiller shareholders from highly attractive markets," says SABMiller Chairman Jan du Plessis.

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