Harvest Desk

Parallels
1:49 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Battle Of The Bottom Feeder: U.S., Vietnam In Catfish Fight

Freshly caught catfish wriggle in large nets in Doddsville, Miss.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 12:17 pm

Bill Battle peers through the window of a pickup truck at his catfish farm, Pride of the Pond, near Tunica, Miss. The land is pancake-flat, broken up by massive ponds, some holding up to 100,000 pounds of catfish.

Cormorants fly low over the ponds, keeping an eye out for whiskered, smooth-skinned fish. Battle keeps a shotgun in the front seat; business is hard enough without the birds cutting into his profit.

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The Salt
7:43 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Sriracha: First, The Crisis. Now, The Movie

Can't get enough of Sriracha? Now it can fill your belly and your screens.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 1:20 pm

Lately, it seems as if news about Sriracha has been as ubiquitous as the much-loved hot sauce itself.

First, there was the panic over a potential shortage, after a judge ordered the California factory where Sriracha is made to partially shut down, as our friends on the Two-Way blog have reported.

Now, this red hot culinary phenomenon is starring in its own documentary.

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The Salt
4:31 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Call the FBI! China Is Trying To Steal America's Seeds!

Seed corn sits in the hopper of a planter.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:54 pm

If you think grains of rice or kernels of corn are free gifts of nature, think again. Seed companies — and the FBI — take a very different attitude, and walking off with the wrong seeds can land you in very serious trouble indeed.

In two apparently unrelated cases this week, federal prosecutors arrested citizens of China and charged them with stealing seeds that American companies consider valuable intellectual property.

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Fitness & Nutrition
11:21 am
Fri December 13, 2013

This Doc's Miracle Drug? Exercise

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 1:58 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

You know the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well, my next guest might add to that. How about a jog a day keeps the doctor away, or a set of pull-ups? His new book is a prescription pad for a variety of ailments from anxiety and depression to heart disease, diabetes, low libido, arthritis, even cancer. But what's different about this medical book is that there are no drugs recommended, no trips to the pharmacy.

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The Salt
9:08 am
Fri December 13, 2013

How Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood

"A lot of people are eating seafood all the time, and fish are eating plastic all the time, so I think that's a problem," says a marine toxicologist.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 9:38 am

We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury.

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The Salt
4:19 am
Fri December 13, 2013

USDA Steps Up The Fight To Save Florida's Oranges

Oranges ripen in a Plant City, Fla., grove on Wednesday. Growers in Florida, Texas and California are worried about citrus greening, a disease that makes the fruit bitter and unmarketable.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:52 am

The citrus industry is facing a crisis. It's called citrus greening — a disease that has devastated orange production in Florida since it first showed up eight years ago. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new effort to try to control the disease before it destroys the nation's citrus industry.

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Recipes
3:36 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

One Family's Christmas Cookies Mix Spice, Spite And Love

Amy Ta NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:03 pm

The holiday season is about spending time with families. For a lot of families, it comes with conflict as well as cheer.

For Diana Abu-Jaber, author of a memoir on food and family called The Language of Baklava, her grandmother's annual arrival for a Christmastime visit meant lots of cookies and a boatload of bickering between her German-American Gram and her Jordanian immigrant father.

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The Salt
2:26 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Social Supermarkets A 'Win-Win-Win' For Europe's Poor

A customer scans the shelves at Community Shop, the U.K.'s first "social supermarket." The discount grocery stores are growing in popularity across Europe and are open exclusively to those in need.
Courtesy of Community Shop

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:57 pm

Somewhere between a food pantry and a traditional grocery store lies an opportunity to help feed those in need.

Enter "social supermarkets," a European model that offers discounted food exclusively to those in poverty. The stores have grown in popularity across the continent, and this week, the U.K. opened its first. Dubbed Community Shop, the store is located in an impoverished former mining town in South Yorkshire.

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Response to 'super bugs'
9:43 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Harvest Blog: FDA Pushing To Limit Livestock Antibiotics

Bob and Sandy Young's hog barn near Buckhart, Ill. (File: Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS)

The FDA wants to phase out antibiotics in meat.

Regulators released a broad plan Wednesday, designed to prevent meat producers from using drugs that are also used to treat sick humans. That means some changes Midwest farmers and ranchers will have to get used to.

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The Two-Way
9:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Sriracha Maker Told To Hold Its Sauce For 30 Days

Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 11:14 am

Already under orders from a court to partially shut down production because of concerns that spicy smells from its Irwindale, Calif., plant are irritating neighbors' eyes, noses and throats, Huy Fong Foods has now been told it can't ship its Sriracha hot sauce until at least 30 days after bottling.

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Harvest Desk
5:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Pheasants Losing Habitat To Farmland

Farm-raised pheasants like this one, wearing blinders so it doesn't fight other birds, are being transported to areas that used to be known for pheasant hunting in order to prop up declining population.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

As farmers across the Midwest have simplified the landscape and plowed up grassland to grow more corn and soybeans, habitat for pheasants, quail and other grassland birds has become increasingly scarce and their numbers are falling.

In Nebraska, wild pheasant concentrations have fallen 86 percent since their peak in the 1960's. The pheasant harvest during hunting season in Iowa is off 63 percent from the highs reached in the 1970's. In areas that used to be overrun, you’ll struggle to find a pheasant now.

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The Salt
4:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Drug Companies Accept FDA Plan To Phase Out Some Animal Antibiotic Uses

Young broilers nibble feed at a chicken farm in Luling, Texas. The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance on how drug companies label antibiotics for livestock.
Bob Nichols USDA/Flickr

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:07 pm

If drug companies follow guidance issued Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, within three years it will be illegal to use medically important antibiotics to make farm animals grow faster or use feed more efficiently.

The FDA's announcement wasn't a big surprise; a draft version of the strategy was released more than a year ago.

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The Salt
12:47 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly

Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 10:24 am

Looks like Harvard University scientists have given us another reason to walk past the cheese platter at holiday parties and reach for the carrot sticks instead: Your gut bacteria will thank you.

Switching to a diet packed with meat and cheese — and very few carbohydrates — alters the trillions of microbes living in the gut, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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All Tech Considered
12:14 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

The 'Digital Lollipop': You Can Literally Taste The Innovation

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 4:57 pm

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
11:52 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Debate: Should We Avoid Eating Anything With A Face?

Dr. Neal Barnard, Gene Baur, Chris Masterjohn and Joel Salatin debate eating meat for Intelligence Squared with moderator John Donvan.
Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared U.S.
  • Listen To The Full Audio Of The Debate
  • Listen To The Broadcast Version Of The Debate

A doctor, a vegan, a researcher and a farmer recently waded into a hot-button topic in the food world: Is it a bad idea to eat meat?

They faced off two against two on the topic for the Intelligence Squared U.S. series. In an Oxford-style debate, they delved into the medical, ethical and environmental arguments surrounding the motion "Don't Eat Anything With A Face."

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The Salt
10:37 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Robots Could Help Farmers Rein In Fertilizer Pollution

Rowbot is designed to fit in between the rows of crops. Moving up and down each row, a fleet of 20 bots could fertilize and monitor the corn crops during the growing season.
Courtesy of Kent Cavender-Bares

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:00 am

Lately, robots have been taking over all kinds of jobs that humans used to do on the farm — from thinning lettuce to harvesting spinach.

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Kitchen Window
6:58 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Breakfast-For-Dinner Shame Should Be Put To Bed

Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 12:08 am

A couple of years back, I was trying to help a friend come up with some quick and easy dinner plans. She was swamped at work, her husband was out of town, and her two young kids needed the usual amount of attention. I asked what she'd been cooking lately. She listed a handful of dishes — nothing fancy but certainly nothing to sniff at. Also, she admitted with some level of embarrassment, they'd been having a lot of breakfast for dinner.

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Harvest Desk
5:43 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

No Farm Bill This Year

Credit Flickr/Andrewmalone

Congress won’t pass a farm bill before early next year.

That was the message from Washington Tuesday, when the principal farm bill players emerged from negotiations and announced they won’t have a full bill ready before the House adjourns for the year on Friday.

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The Salt
5:14 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Congressional Work On Farm Bill Likely To Spill Into 2014

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., during a Dec. 4 break in negotiations on the farm bill. On Tuesday, Stabenow said the bill likely won't pass Congress until January.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:14 pm

House and Senate negotiators working to finish a farm bill say it is unlikely their work will be completed before the end of the year. The House is only in session for the rest of the week, and according to one of the negotiators, this week's snowy weather has delayed some numbers-crunching needed to figure out how much elements of a possible deal will cost.

"We're going to pass it in January," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., as she left a closed-door meeting to negotiate details of the five-year farm bill.

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Fitness & Nutrition
3:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Study: Organic Milk Contains More Healthy Fatty Acids

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:30 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Say you're at the store, and you reach into the dairy case. There's organic milk, or you could go for the regular. There's a big difference in price. So is there any reason to pay more? Well, fresh research published in the journal PLoS ONE could help you make up your mind. NPR's food and health correspondent Allison Aubrey joins us to talk about it. And Allison, what are the results from this new study?

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The Salt
2:30 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Elevenses And Then Some: How To Prepare A Feast Fit For A Hobbit

Precious snack: In Tolkien's books, lembas was a special bread made by elves that could stay fresh for months — perfect for sustaining travelers on a long journey (or engaging in an all-day movie marathon.) Try it for elevenses.
Beth Accomando for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 10:23 am

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." — J.R.R. Tolkien

Each year, I swear I will never do this again.

And yet, for the third year in a row, I am preparing to host a day-long Lord of the Rings movie marathon – and cooking up a seven-course hobbit-themed feast, plus dessert, to serve my guests. Maybe it's because, like Tolkien, I too would like the world to be a merrier place.

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The Salt
10:12 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Fresh Research Finds Organic Milk Packs In Omega-3s

Cows graze in a pasture at the University of New Hampshire's organic dairy farm in Lee, N.H., Sept. 27, 2006.
JIM COLE AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 1:35 pm

While milk consumption continues to fall in the U.S., sales of organic milk are on the rise. And now organic milk accounts for about 4 percent of total fluid milk consumption.

For years, organic producers have claimed their milk is nutritionally superior to regular milk. Specifically, they say that because their cows spend a lot more time out on pasture, munching on grasses and legumes rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the animals' milk is higher in these healthy fats, which are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

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Shots - Health News
8:43 am
Tue December 10, 2013

To Get Kids Exercising, Schools Are Becoming Creative

Students at Northeast Elementary Magnet, in Danville, Ill., play around. Fewer than 1 in 5 parents polled said their kids were getting physical education daily.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:42 pm

Avery Stackhouse, age 7, of Lafayette, Calif., says he wishes he had more time for phys ed.

"We just have it one day a week — on Monday." There's always lunch and recess, he says. "We play a couple of games, like football and soccer," he tells Shots.

But at Happy Valley Elementary, where he goes to school, recess lasts only 15 minutes and lunch is 45. Between eating and mingling, he says, "there's only a few minutes left where we play games and all that."

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The Salt
8:05 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Microbiome Candy: Could A Probiotic Mint Help Prevent Cavities?

A sweet way to avoid the dentist? Microbiologists are developing a probiotic mint that uses dead bacteria to fight off cavities.
Morgan Walker NPR

Eat candy and fight tooth decay. What a sweet concept, right?

Well, microbiologists in Berlin are trying to make that dream a reality.

They've created a sugarless mint that's aimed at washing out cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth. And the candy works in a curious way: It's spiked with dead bacteria. It's like probiotics for your teeth.

The experimental mint is still in the early days of development — and far from reaching the shelves at Walgreens.

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The Salt
2:30 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Sandwich Monday: Pecan Pie Pringles

A rare photograph with a mustache in it in which the mustache is not the grossest thing.
NPR

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:32 pm

Each year around this time, Pringles comes out with a new, limited-time-only, holiday-themed flavor. A couple of years ago it was White Chocolate Peppermint Pringles, then there was Awkward Visit With Family Pringles, and now we have Pecan Pie Pringles.

Ian: Depending on where you're from, it's either pronounced "pee-kahn" or "gross."

Eva: Wait a minute ... at Thanksgiving my grandma said these were homemade!

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The Salt
11:21 am
Mon December 9, 2013

'In Meat We Trust' Argues We Got The Meat Industry We Asked For

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 9:36 am

The meat on your dinner table probably didn't come from a happy little cow that lived a wondrous life out on rolling green hills. It probably also wasn't produced by a robot animal killer hired by an evil cabal of monocle-wearing industrialists.

Truth is, the meat industry is complicated, and it's impossible to understand without a whole lot of context. That's where Maureen Ogle comes in. She's a historian and the author of In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America.

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The Salt
4:34 am
Sun December 8, 2013

Between Pigs And Anchovies: Where Humans Rank On The Food Chain

An animal's ranking on the food chain depends on where its meals place on the ladder. That puts plants on the bottom (they make all their food), polar bears on top and people somewhere between pigs and anchovies.
Lisa Brown for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 9:28 am

When it comes to making food yummy and pleasurable, humans clearly outshine their fellow animals on Earth. After all, you don't see rabbits caramelizing carrots or polar bears slow-roasting seal.

But in terms of the global food chain, Homo sapiens are definitely not the head honchos.

Instead, we sit somewhere between pigs and anchovies, scientists reported recently. That puts us right in the middle of the chain, with polar bears and orca whales occupying the highest position.

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The Salt
7:05 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Fishery Closure Puts New England's Shrimp Season On Ice

Northern shrimp are shoveled into a holding chamber on a trawler in the Gulf of Maine in 2012. Stocks of the shrimp have been declining for several years, leading regulators to cancel the New England shrimping season.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 8:56 pm

New England chefs like Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley are still coming to terms with the news: No more shrimp until further notice.

This week, regulators shut down the New England fishery for Gulf of Maine shrimp for the first time in 35 years. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission judged the stocks of the popular shrimp, also known as northern shrimp, to be dangerously low.

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Found Recipes
3:16 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

A Tale Of Two Cookies: The Brass Sisters' Shortbread

The Brass Sisters, Marilynn and Sheila, say the recipe for this shortbread is a treasure from their childhood they nearly lost forever.
Courtesy of Andy Ryan Photography

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 10:01 am

Cookies are a sometime food, and with the holidays around the corner, that sometime is now.

Here at NPR, the holiday baking season is not complete without a story from the always-charming Brass Sisters, Marilynn and Sheila.

They've been collecting recipes for more than 50 years. When it comes to holiday cookies, they immediately turn to Dorothy Sullivan's shortbread. The cookies were a treat they enjoyed when they were girls, just 10 and 15 years old, growing up in Winthrop, Mass.

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The Salt
3:01 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

The Hills Were Alive With The Sound Of DiGiorno Pizza Last Night

Carrie Underwood may have played Maria in NBC's The Sound of Music Live, but on Twitter, it was @DiGiorno that stole the show." href="/post/hills-were-alive-sound-digiorno-pizza-last-night" class="noexit lightbox">
"DOUGH a crust, an unbaked crust ...": Carrie Underwood may have played Maria in NBC's The Sound of Music Live, but on Twitter, it was @DiGiorno that stole the show.
NBC NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 4:35 pm

When big food corporations try to horn in on Twitter conversations about TV shows and other pop culture fare, it usually doesn't work.

Remember when McDonald's tried to engage customers with the hashtag #mcdstories, only to have it turn into a way to share horror-story experiences at the fast food chain? Or when Snickers got busted for paying celebrities to tweet about its brand?

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