Harvest Desk

Harvest Desk
4:56 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Meat Prices Higher This Independence Day

Credit flickr/Clemensv.Vogelsang

According to the USDA, beef prices have increased more than 10 percent and pork prices are up more than 12 percent over last summer. University of Missouri livestock economist Scott Brown says a combination of high feed prices, drought and a hog virus devastating the pork supply are to blame.

“I will say that we are at unprecedented levels in terms of where we are on consumer prices. We have been seeing growth over the last four or five years generally,” Brown said.

And soon, Brown predicts, you’ll see higher prices at restaurants as well.

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The Salt
2:31 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Designing The Perfectly Architectural Ice Cream Sandwich

(From left) Strawberries and cream gelato; peanut butter ice cream sandwich; dirty mint chip.
Brian Leatart Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 6:26 am

Coolhaus ice cream shop — which is just blocks from NPR West in Culver City, Calif. — is famous for its ice cream, which comes in crazy cool flavors like Whisky Luck Charms and Peking Duck.

Coolhaus recently came out with a cookbook, so NPR's Renee Montagne visited the shop to learn how some of these loopy flavors can be used as building blocks in crafting the ultimate ice cream sandwich.

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The Salt
3:09 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Simple Summer Jam Session Calls For Strawberries And Sunshine

A few jars of strawberry jam bask in the light of what made them: the summer sun.
Christian Grantham Flickr

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 7:55 pm

With the onset of summer comes also a bounty of strawberries. Add to those berries a bit of sugar and plenty of sunlight, and you have a strawberry jam recipe fit for the season's best mornings — with a slice of good toast, of course.

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The Salt
10:48 am
Thu July 3, 2014

No Ants Were Harmed At These Picnics Of The Past

Two couples having a picnic during the '50s.
George Marks Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 1:58 pm

When summertime rolls around, we're all for eating outdoors, but the American heyday of the picnic may very well have been the 1950s.

Convenience food was newly popular; many mothers stayed home and had time to pack everything just right. Tupperware was taking off, picnic tables popped up on roadsides, and an outing in the fresh country air was often just what the doctor ordered.

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The Salt
5:52 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

How Dark Chocolate, Not Milk Chocolate, May Help Blood Flow

Researchers say the polyphenols in dark chocolate can help the body form more nitric oxide, a compound that causes blood vessels to dilate and blood to flow more easily.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 8:44 am

The idea that eating cocoa-rich, dark chocolate may offer greater health benefits than milk chocolate is not new.

Cocoa is loaded with compounds called polyphenols that have been shown to help our bodies fend off inflammation and maybe even improve our moods.

And now a small study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association offers evidence of another possible benefit: improving vascular health by increasing blood flow.

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The Salt
4:37 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Big Bucks From Strawberry Genes Lead To Conflict At UC Davis

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 5:26 pm

Yesterday, we reported on a legal tussle over control of the country's top center of strawberry breeding, at the University of California, Davis. But there's a backstory to that battle. It involves the peculiar nature of the UC Davis strawberry program.

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The Salt
9:32 am
Wed July 2, 2014

'Frobot' Creator: Taking Frozen Yogurt Where It's Never Been Before

Mallika Padmanabhan (left) and Joshua Margolin order frozen yogurt from the Frobot in Washington, D.C.
Nicholas St. Fleur/NPR

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 4:32 pm

There has been a lot of talk of disrupting the food system lately. Bill Gates, among others, has said the way we produce meat is hugely inefficient — and is crying for Silicon Valley-style disruption. That's why he's investing in chicken-less eggs.

But frozen yogurt?

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Shots - Health News
2:49 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Targeting Overweight Workers With Wellness Programs Can Backfire

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 1:08 pm

Employers say obesity is a top health concern for their workers. But health is a sensitive and personal issue. Some employees say these wellness initiatives can go too far.

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The Salt
4:40 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Breeding Battle Threatens Key Source Of California Strawberries

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 10:48 pm

In California, a legal skirmish has erupted over strawberries — or rather, over strawberry breeding.

To be absolutely precise, the battle is about strawberry breeding at the University of California, Davis. This is more important than it might sound. More than half of all strawberries in the supermarket trace their ancestry to breeding plots at UC Davis.

The strawberry breeders at UC Davis, who've led that program for decades, are leaving the university to carry on their work at a new private company.

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Shots - Health News
3:38 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

A Misspent Youth Doesn't Doom You To Heart Disease

Had a bit too much fun in your 20s?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 9:34 am

We all know that a healthy lifestyle can keep heart disease at bay. But if like many of us you spent your 20s scarfing down pizza, throwing back a few too many beers and aggressively avoiding the gym, don't despair.

People who drop bad habits in their late 30s and 40s can reduce their risk of developing coronary artery disease, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Circulation.

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The Salt
12:35 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

'The Great Fish Swap': How America Is Downgrading Its Seafood Supply

Paul Greenberg says the decline of local fish markets, and the resulting sequestration of seafood to a corner of our supermarkets, has contributed to "the facelessness and comodification of seafood."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 11:09 am

What's the most popular seafood in the U.S.? Shrimp. The average American eats more shrimp per capita than tuna and salmon combined. Most of that shrimp comes from Asia, and most of the salmon we eat is also imported. In fact, 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad, but one-third of the seafood Americans catch gets sold to other countries.

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Shots - Health News
11:25 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Older Adults Are Fatter Than Ever, Increasing Their Risk Of Illness

Most older adults are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of chronic health problems.
Claudio Arnese iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:08 pm

Older people are working more, voting more and drinking and smoking less than they used to. That's the good news.

But nearly three-quarters of older men and about two-thirds of women over age 64 are overweight or obese, making them more likely to have to deal with diabetes, arthritis and impaired mobility.

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Food
6:16 am
Tue July 1, 2014

IBM's Watson Is Out With Its Own Barbecue Sauce

The barbecue sauce concocted with the help of Watson contains a dozen ingredients.
IBM

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 10:12 am

A company specializing in bytes is offering a special flavor for your Fourth of July: IBM's Watson barbecue sauce.

The supercomputer first showed off its intellectual process on Jeopardy, but Watson now seems ready for the Food Channel.

After analyzing massive numbers of recipes, Watson went gourmet. The condiment, called Bengali Butternut BBQ Sauce, contains a dozen ingredients, including butternut squash, white wine, dates, Thai chilies and tamarind. According to IBM, "it's got a slow, warm heat and a kick."

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Food
6:02 am
Tue July 1, 2014

In Support Of U.S. Soccer, Don't Eat Belgian Waffles

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:24 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Salt
1:37 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Concrete

Intractably delicious!
NPR

Purveyors of fine foods have any number of ways of showing them off. Auntie Anne's hands out free pretzel samples at the mall; McDonald's lets a princess sit on top of the Big Mac to show she can't feel a pea underneath.

At Ted Drewes in St. Louis, when they hand you your Concrete, they flip it upside down to show you it's so thick, it won't fall out of the cup.

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The Salt
11:23 am
Mon June 30, 2014

The Past Is Where It's At For The Future Of Barbecue

YouTube

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 4:57 pm

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, families across the nation will be firing up their gas and charcoal grills in pursuit of grilled meat bliss.

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Food
6:15 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Britain Wants U.S. To Lift Its Ban On Haggis

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:32 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. As Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns hailed Scotland's national dish, haggis, as the great chieftain of the pudding race. But the U.S. has banned the import of haggis for decades because it contains sheep's lung. Today, Britain will make the case to the U.S. agricultural secretary to lift that ban so Americans, too, can enjoy a dish made of lungs, heart and liver encased in sheep's stomach. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

The Salt
4:01 am
Sun June 29, 2014

'Artisanal' Ramen? Instant Noodles Get A Healthy Dose Of Hacking

(Top left, clockwise) Macmen N' Cheese; chocolate ramen; udon and egg. (Bottom row) Ramen fritatta; cannellini beans and spinach; and southwest taco from the book Rah! Rah! Ramen.
Sara Childs/ Courtesy of Interactive Direct

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 11:09 am

If there's one thing college students know well, it's a belly full of instant ramen.

"Ramen always has been and always will be a college staple," says Rick Brandt, a recent University of Iowa graduate.

And it's not just college students who turn to the noodles in lean moments: When your food budget is reduced to quarters dug out of the couch, or when hunger pangs strike at ungodly hours, ramen noodles may come to the rescue.

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The Salt
4:39 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Got Leftovers To Share? In Germany, There's A Website For That

Europeans throw away 90 million tons of food each year, including these vegetables pulled from waste bins of an organic supermarket in Berlin. A new German website aims to connect surplus food with people who want it.
Fabrizio Bensch Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 9:46 am

Child psychiatrist Vero Buschmann says she was looking for a way to get rid of leftovers without having to throw them away. At the same time, the Berlin resident wanted to meet new people.

She found a nonprofit website in Germany that allows her to do both. On a recent evening, her doorbell rings and she buzzes Franzi Zimmerman in to her fifth-floor apartment.

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The Salt
3:27 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Lone Passenger Pigeon Escapes Pie Pan, Lands In Smithsonian

A male passenger pigeon, illustrated in a book of natural history printed in 1754.
Courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 5:33 pm

"Pigeon: It's what's for dinner."

That might sound strange to us, but it could have been uttered by our great-grandparents. Baked into pot pies, stewed, fried or salted, the passenger pigeon was a staple for many North Americans.

But by 1914, only one was left: Martha.

Named after Martha Washington, she lived a long life at the Cincinnati Zoo until 1914. The bird, now on exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, was a celebrity.

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The Two-Way
1:59 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

USA Vs. Belgium: If The World Cup Were Played In Beer

Tuesday afternoon's match between the U.S. and Belgium will pit two countries with burgeoning beer scenes — and a shared love of fries.
photobuddah Flickr

The Americans have the spunk, the vigor and a willingness to try anything. The Belgians have the art, the creativity and the tradition of world-class success. We're not just talking about their looming World Cup matchup here. We're also talking about beer.

The topic of beer and the World Cup is now bubbling around in the highest offices of the two nations.

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Shots - Health News
1:59 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

When Heat Stroke Strikes, Cool First, Transport Later

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo takes a water break during the 2014 World Cup soccer match between Portugal and the U.S. in Manaus, Brazil, on June 22.
Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 4:38 pm

The first-ever World Cup water break (taken during the game between Portugal and the United States this week) is a reminder that we all need to take extra precautions when playing in the heat.

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The Salt
9:38 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Chemist With Visual Flair Answers Burning Food Science Questions

Courtesy of Compound Interest

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 2:24 pm

Chemistry teachers don't need to go the way of Breaking Bad's Walter White and make methamphetamine if they're looking for a compelling side gig.

Andy Brunning, a high school chemistry teacher in the U.K., makes beautiful infographics on everyday chemistry on his blog, Compound Interest. Thanks in part to the American Chemical Society, which has turned several of his posts into videos, his clever visuals have been going viral.

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The Salt
2:21 am
Fri June 27, 2014

As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

Michael Yezzi raises 1,000 pigs a year in Shushan, N.Y. He's worried about how to keep his farm safe from a disease that has no proven cure.
Abbie Fentress Swanson for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 7:31 am

If you're bringing home the bacon, you may have noticed a price tag inching upward.

Consumers are paying nearly 13 percent more for pork at the supermarket than they were this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A deadly pig disease is partially to blame.

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The Salt
2:29 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Did Neanderthals Eat Plants? The Proof May Be In The Poop

A rendering of Neanderthals cooking and eating. The ancient humans inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago.
Mauricio Anton Science Source

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:35 pm

Neanderthals clubbed their way to the top of an ancient food chain, slaying caribou and mammoths. But a peek inside their prehistoric poop reveals that the meat-loving early humans may have also enjoyed some salad on the side.

Researchers excavating a site in southern Spain where Neanderthals lived 50,000 years ago were initially looking for remnants of food in fireplaces. Then they stumbled upon tiny bits of poop — which turned out to be the oldest fecal matter from a human relation ever discovered.

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The Salt
5:14 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Is It Time For Food To Get Its Own Major Museum?

The whirling, 3,200-pound puffing gun was used to produce cereals like Cheerios and Kix in the early 20th century. The Museum of Food and Drink plans to feature it in its first exhibition, on breakfast cereal.
Courtesy of MOFAD

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:36 am

You can thank a very large, and very strange, machine called a puffing gun for all those Cheerios you crunched on as a kid.

And if all goes according to plan, you'll be able to see one of those guns, patented in 1939 to force air into grains so they pop in your mouth and float in a bowl of milk, at a temporary exhibition in New York City next year on the history of breakfast cereal.

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The Salt
10:59 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Kandinsky On A Plate: Art-Inspired Salad Just Tastes Better

Kandinsky's Painting No. 201, on the left, was the inspiration for the salad on the right, which was used to test diners' appreciation of the dish.
Museum of Modern Art; Crossmodal Research Laboratory

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:35 am

We eat first with our eyes. When strawberries are perfectly red, they seem to taste sweeter. When chicken is painted blue, it's disturbing. The ancient Romans understood that, and certainly today's top chefs exploit it when they plate their food.

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The Salt
4:49 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

'Natural' Food Sounds Good But Doesn't Mean Much

Advocates say consumers may assume that the "natural" label is the same as "organic."
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 8:50 am

Some people have had it with "natural" food.

For fifteen years, Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, has been pointing out that "natural" is just about the most misleading label that you'll ever see on a food package. Yet consumers still look for that word, food companies still love to use it and the Food and Drug Administration can't or won't define it.

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The Salt
5:39 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Try 'I Tradizionali,' A Temporary, Culinary Tattoo

Marina Cinciripini and Sarah Richiuso.
I Tradizionali

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:35 am

Cooking is a messy endeavor, and few recipe books escape drips, spills and splatters. But help is at hand.

Two young Italian designers have come up with I Tradizionali, a collection of beautiful and temporary tattoos of Italian recipes that fit on your forearm.

Do the shallots go in before or after the peppers? How many eggs make the perfect frittata? Not to worry, and don't reach for the cookbook — just glance at your arm.

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The Salt
2:28 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Tequila Nation: Mexico Reckons With Its Complicated Spirit

Blue agaves grow in a plantation for the production of tequila in Arandas, Jalisco state, Mexico, in December 2010. In the past 20 years, tequila has become fashionable all over the world, demonstrating that producers' international sales strategy has been a great success.
Hector Guerrero AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:54 pm

The Mexican town of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco is the heart of a region that produces the legendary spirit. Any bottle of tequila must be made from the Weber Blue species of agave, grown and distilled in this region.

Field after field of agave gives this land a blue hue, defining an economy and its traditions.

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