Harvest Desk

The Salt
3:35 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Breaded Steak Sandwich

The best sandwich photos are indistinguishable from crime scene photos.
NPR

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 1:17 pm

There are those who say "less is more," and there are those who say "less is stupid." The latter are responsible for taking a steak sandwich, deciding it needed more calories, and creating the Breaded Steak Sandwich. A thin cut of beef is breaded and fried, placed in a hoagie roll, and covered in what they call "red gravy." Ricobene's here in Chicago is famous for it.

Eva: It's the kangaroo of sandwiches. It's carrying around a slightly smaller breaded thing in its pouch.

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The Salt
12:18 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Italians To New Yorkers: 'Forkgate' Scandal? Fuhggedaboutit

In this image taken from video and provided by New York City Hall, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio eats pizza with a fork at Goodfellas Pizza on Staten Island on Friday.
AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 11:10 am

Over the past week, two high-profile leaders in the New York metropolitan area found themselves at the center of unfolding political scandals. At least one, it seems, has some plausible deniability.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie's political future is in doubt over the ever-widening "Bridgegate" fiasco, as emails revealed that members of his closest inner circle were involved. But just across that bridge, New York City's newly installed mayor, Bill de Blasio, became embroiled in another kind of drama: "Forkgate."

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The Salt
10:09 am
Mon January 13, 2014

California's Pot Farms Could Leave Salmon Runs Truly Smoked

This dead juvenile coho salmon was found in a tributary of California's South Fork Eel River. About 20 large-scale marijuana farms are located upstream from the watershed pictured. All of them divert water from the stream.
Courtesy Scott Bauer

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 4:08 pm

For many users and advocates of marijuana, the boom in the West Coast growing industry may be all good and groovy. But in California, critics say the recent explosion of the marijuana industry along the state's North Coast — a region called the "emerald triangle" — could put a permanent buzz kill on struggling salmon populations.

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Harvest Desk
6:23 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Forget The Golf Course, Subdivisions Build Around Farms

The Bucking Horse subdivision in Fort Collins, Colo., will include a working CSA farm, complete with historic barn, farm house and chicken coop.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

For decades, housing developments in the suburbs have come complete with golf courses, tennis courts, strip malls and swimming pools. But make way for the new subdivision amenity: the specialty farm.

A new model for suburban development is springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement. Farms, complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees, are serving as a way to entice potential buyers to settle in a new subdivision.

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The Salt
4:22 am
Sun January 12, 2014

Prison Gardens Help Inmates Grow Their Own Food — And Skills

Prisoners build an organic vegetable garden in the prison yard of the medium security unit at San Quentin State Prison in December.
Kirk Crippens Insight Garden Program

Last week, we reported on the correctional industry's enduring practice of punishing certain inmates with a bland, lumpish food known as "the loaf."

Fortunately, there are also more encouraging stories to tell about prison food.

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The New And The Next
4:32 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

A Feminist Walks Into A Diet Clinic

Samantha Schoech is a writer and co-editor of the book The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater.
Courtesy subject

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 1:42 pm

Samantha Schoech has struggled with weight for most of her life.

"I am sort of a lifelong yo-yo dieter and like many women, weight is a frustrating topic for me," she tells NPR's Arun Rath.

As a feminist, she faces another struggle — the tricky prospect of balancing society's expectations of body image, without giving into them, and also wanting to be healthy.

She wrote about this tension in a piece for Ozy.com.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:02 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Go Where Raisins Swell Into Grapes, And Lemons Light The Sky

Courtesy of Pierre Javelle & Akiko Ida

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 10:42 am

There's a book by the novelist China Mieville that describes two cities plopped one on top of the other. One is large-scale, the other smaller-scale, and while they live in entangled proximity, both cities have the same rule. Each says to its citizens, pay no attention — on pain of punishment — to what the "others" around you are doing. See your own kind. "Unsee" the others.

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The Salt
4:43 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

American Beer Fans, Praise The Heavens: A Trappist Brewery In U.S.

Spencer Trappist Ale, made by the first official Trappist brewery outside Europe, will go on sale next week in Massachusetts.
Nick Hiller The Spencer Brewery

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 3:27 pm

The town of Spencer, in central Massachusetts, isn't well known for ... well, anything, really. But it's about to become internationally famous — at least in beer-drinking circles.

Spencer is home to St. Joseph's Abbey, where robed monks are busy brewing the first American Trappist beer. If all goes as planned, Spencer Trappist Ale will be available in Massachusetts retail stores by the middle of next week.

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Harvest Desk
4:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Planting Less Corn In 2014

Falling corn prices and questions about ethanol demand could lead Illinois farmers to plant fewer acres of corn this year.  

Patrick Kirchhofer is manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau. He tells the (Peoria) Journal Star that farmers are instead taking a closer look at soybeans this year. That's after several years of increasing corn production fueled by higher prices.  

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Harvest Desk
4:05 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Illinois Led Nation In Soybean Yields In 2013

2013 Soybean Yields (Bushels And Change From 2012)
USDA NASS

U.S. farmers harvested more corn in 2013 than in 2012, while the soybean harvest declined slightly, according to USDA reports released Friday. 

In 2013, Illinois farmers saw the best soybean yields in the nation, outpacing the soy heavyweight of Iowa. In 2013, the state of Illinois reported 49 bushels per acre, while Iowa farmers only got 45 bushels per acre out of their fields last year.

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The Salt
11:43 am
Fri January 10, 2014

A Green-Movement Website Shakes Up The Debate Over GMOs

After Grist's six-month-long series on genetically modified foods, some loyal readers accused the site of changing directions in the debate.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 11:52 am

A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.

Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.

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The Salt
6:40 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Food Firms Trim Trillions Of Calories From Packaged Treats

To make a more healthful version of Edy's Grand Ice Cream, Nestle developed a technology that could cut half the fat and two-thirds of the calories from the frozen treat.
Erik S. Lesser Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:30 am

It sounds impressive: Major food companies have slashed 6.4 trillion calories from packaged foods they sold in 2012 compared with 2007, a study reported Thursday.

But for each American, that number translates to about 78 fewer calories purchased each day, or the equivalent of cutting out one apple or 3 1/2 Hershey's Kisses.

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The Salt
12:13 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Is Sugar Addiction Why So Many January Diets Fail?

Indulge or resist? Sugar cravings can be a serious challenge.
iStock

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:34 pm

We've survived the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, when rich, sweet treats come at us non-stop. Now is the season of reform, when gym memberships, cleanse books and weight-loss plans sell like gangbusters.

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The Salt
2:47 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Blending Red Wine With Porter Ale: A Crossover Beer Worth The Buzz?

Sebastian Zutant is the owner of The Red Hen restaurant in Washington, D.C. He's also a sommelier. He and a friend at DC Brau have developed their own beer-wine mashup.
Allison Aubrey NPR

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 9:21 am

If you're a beer lover and your significant other tends more toward wine, is there a drink that can satisfy both of you?

How about a beer-wine mashup, combining two of mankind's oldest beverages?

"To me, it's kind of the magic in the middle," says Sebastian Zutant, sommelier and owner of the D.C. restaurant The Red Hen.

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The Salt
2:37 am
Thu January 9, 2014

The Fruits Of Free Trade: How NAFTA Revamped The American Diet

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 9:21 am

Walk through the produce section of your supermarket and you'll see things you'd never have seen years ago — like fresh raspberries or green beans in the dead of winter.

Much of that produce comes from Mexico, and it's the result of the North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — which took effect 20 years ago this month.

In the years since, NAFTA radically changed the way we get our fruits and vegetables. For starters, the volume of produce from Mexico to the U.S. has tripled since 1994.

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Harvest Desk
5:10 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Study: Cover Crops Can Ward Off Soybean Diseases

Visitors to the Peoria Farm Show learn about seeding cover crops in this 2013 file photo
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Midwest farmers who rely on healthy soybean harvests have one more reason to consider adding cereal rye into their crop rotation in 2014.

Research conducted in Illinois indicates certain cover crops left in the ground during the winter make the soil less vulnerable to diseases that attack the leaves and root systems of soybeans planted the following spring.

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The Salt
3:21 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

This GMO Apple Won't Brown. Will That Sour The Fruit's Image?

Soon after being sliced, a conventional Granny Smith apple (left) starts to brown, while a newly developed GM Granny Smith stays fresher looking.
Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:29 pm

If you (or your children) turn up your nose at brown apple slices, would you prefer fresh-looking ones that have been genetically engineered?

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The Salt
10:51 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood

A sperm whale entangled in a drift net. A report says commercial fisheries around the world kill or injure 650,000 mammals a year.
Alberto Romero Marine Photobank

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:29 pm

Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are injured or killed every year by fishermen around the world. And because most seafood in the U.S. is imported, that means our fish isn't as dolphin-friendly as you might expect.

Under pressure from conservation groups, federal regulators are preparing to tighten import standards to better protect marine mammals.

There was a time, more than 40 years ago, when U.S. fishermen killed millions of dolphins while fishing for tuna. After a public backlash, fishermen figured out how to minimize that so-called bycatch.

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Kitchen Window
7:14 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Leftover Liquor Finds New Life As Liqueur

Eve Turow for NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 6:24 am

Years ago, on an overnight bus ride in Argentina, a waiter poked his head through the drawn curtains: "Whiskey or Tia Maria?" he offered as a post-meal drink. Unfamiliar with the latter, I decided to take a taste. He steadied himself on the rocking walls and poured me a serving of the almond-colored digestif. I could smell the coffee aromatics as I took my first sip. The sweet liqueur popped on my taste buds with flavors of vanilla, coconut and rum. "Good, right?" he asked. I nodded. As the sugar and alcohol settled my stomach, I knew I had to learn more about this dinnertime tradition.

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The Salt
5:02 am
Wed January 8, 2014

A Cheesy Meltdown: Kraft Warns Of Velveeta Shortage

According to an AdvertisingAge report, Velveeta may be a little hard to come by in some areas over the next few weeks.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:24 pm

If I say Super Bowl food, you think ... Velveeta? Maybe Velveeta with Ro*Tel.

Oh, yes. Ro*Tel's Famous Con Queso.

What could be more Sunday-in-January-indulgent than hot, creamy, processed cheese mixed with diced tomatoes & green chilies.

I have to admit, I've scooped up my share of con queso on a nacho chip or two.

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The Salt
6:21 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Think You're Cold And Hungry? Try Eating In Antarctica

Morrie Fisher drinks at Mawson Station, an Australian base in East Antarctica, in 1957. Apparently, these sorts of amusements tend to pop up when you're bored in a barren landscape.
Courtesy of the Australian Antarctic Division

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:24 pm

If the icy blast of polar air that's descended upon much of the U.S. over the last couple of days has you reaching for the cookie jar for comfort — and ready to give up on those New Year's resolutions — then seriously? It's time to toughen up. Just think: At least you're not in the Antarctic.

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The Salt
6:05 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Top Diets Of 2014 (Hint: It's Probably Not What You Think)

Keep the rice brown and the skin off the chicken for a Spanish rice dinner that could qualify for the top-ranked DASH diet. Here's the DASH-approved recipe.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:27 pm

U.S. News has ranked 32 diets, and which one comes out on top?

The DASH diet. It's an acronym for a dreadfully dull name, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. Haven't heard of it?

True, it doesn't get much buzz.

But it's been around for a long time, and there's solid evidence that it works, not just for weight control but also to lower high blood pressure (a condition that affects 1 in 3 adults in the U.S.).

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The Salt
10:57 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Smithfield Prods Its Pork Suppliers To Dump Pig Crates

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 3:55 pm

Smithfield, the world's largest hog and pork buyer, announced Tuesday that it's asking the independent farmers with whom it has contracts to get rid of stalls for pregnant sows to improve the animals' living conditions.

To nudge these farmers to make the changes to their facilities by 2022, Smithfield is offering to extend their contracts once they've converted their gestational stalls into group houses, which are generally considered more humane.

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The Salt
7:42 am
Tue January 7, 2014

To Make Healthier Choices, Color-Code Your Food (Green Means Go!)

At NPR's Sound Bites Cafe, all food gets coded with one of three circles: Green is reserved for the most healthful dishes; yellow flags the "good choices;" and red signals the high-calorie foods to grab "on occasion."
NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:27 pm

Could a little red circle really make me bypass short ribs and mashed potatoes for some cod and rice instead? You've got to be kidding.

Well, a team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital sure think so — at least sometimes — and they have a study that backs them up.

It's research that hits close to home: Last April, when NPR moved into new headquarters, we got a snazzy new cafeteria. And little colored circles started popping up on menus.

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The Salt
2:54 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Ignatius R

No mouths were harmed in the eating of this sandwich. Except Eva's — she wants Worker's Comp for a bad case of Sandwich Jaw.
NPR

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:01 pm

It's -16 degrees today here in Chicago, which for many of us has triggered hibernation mode. Fortunately the great Jerry's Sandwiches has created the Ignatius R., with enough calories to get us to the end of winter, which we expect to occur sometime in August.

The ingredient list: fried chicken, cold hickory-smoked sirloin, applewood bacon, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, Carolina vinegar, fried shrimp, fried green tomato, mortadella, country ham, pickled okra, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Southwest mayo on a potato bun.

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The Salt
2:22 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Looks Like The Paleo Diet Wasn't Always So Hot For Ancient Teeth

Say aaaaaah! Dental caries and other signs of oral disease are plain to see in the upper teeth of this hunter-gatherer, between 14,000 and 15,000 years old. The findings challenge the idea that the original paleo diet was inherently healthy, says paleo-anthropologist Louise Humphrey. It all depended, she says, on what wild foods were available.
Courtesy of Isabelle De Groote

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 5:16 pm

One of the hinge points in human history was the invention of agriculture. It led to large communities, monumental architecture and complex societies. It also led to tooth decay.

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The Salt
2:06 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Amazon Locavore: Meet The Man Putting Brazilian Food On The Map

Brazilian chef Alex Atala, whose restaurant, D.O.M., is ranked among the top 10 in the world, was named one of the most influential people by Time magazine this year.
Cassio Vasconcellos AP

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:03 am

He was named one of the most influential people by Time magazine this past year.

Now Alex Atala, whose restaurant, D.O.M., is ranked among the top 10 in the world, is putting a new kind of Brazilian food on the map.

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The Salt
1:32 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

In Sao Paulo, Organic Markets Are Beginning To Take Off

As demand for organic food in Brazil rises, organic produce is getting more affordable.
Paula Moura for NPR

Sao Paulo holds the title of the biggest city in Latin America, with an estimated 22 million people in its metropolitan area. But when it comes to local, organic food, the pickings are pretty slim: The city has just 20 organic farmers' markets.

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Food
9:51 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Eating Tea And Other Food Predictions For 2014

Tea leaves will be big in entrees and desserts in 2014.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:44 am

At the beginning of every year, we read the tea leaves to see what new food trends we'll be tasting in the coming months. This year, the tea itself is the trend.

Tea leaves will be big in entrees, desserts and, of course, cocktails. Starbucks has opened its first tea shop.

We won't be just drinking tea; Artisan distilling keeps on growing. This could be the year of gin, made with local botanicals as well as the traditional juniper berry.

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The Salt
3:16 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Let Them Eat Sandwiches: USDA Eases School Lunch Restrictions

After the the school lunch program was overhauled in 2012 to curb childhood obesity, lots of kids began complaining that lunches were too skimpy.

Why? Because in some cases, schools had to limit healthy foods — such as sandwiches served on whole-grain bread or salads topped with grilled chicken — due to restrictions the U.S. Department of Agriculture set on the amount of grains and protein that could be served at meal-time.

In some districts, program participation dropped as more kids decided to brown-bag it and bring their own food to school.

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