Harvest Desk

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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The Salt
11:15 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'Cut Food': Take A Peek At The Beauty Inside Everyday Edibles

A hotdog and ice cream cone from Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnes' "Cut Food" series.
Courtesy of Beth Galton

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 10:18 am

Let's assume you've got a beautiful stuffed turkey, some time to kill and a hacksaw just itching to slice things apart. This could be the ingredient list for a real culinary disaster. But if you're Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnes, what you get is a peek inside the beauty baked into everyday foods.

They're the duo behind "Cut Food," a photo series that literally cleaves into edibles — hot dogs, ice cream, fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy — to reveal gorgeous geometric patterns tucked within.

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NPR Story
3:39 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Want To Make Your Life Better? Keep Track Of It

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 6:51 am

The Quantified Self movement promotes something called life logging. That means tracking all kinds of details of your life in order to improve it. To find out more about the topic, David Greene talks to two people involved with life logging: Kitty Ireland, who works for a life logging app called Saga, and to David Goldstein, who turned to life logging with the help of a coach.

The Salt
2:49 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don't Judge A Wine By How It's Sealed

Winemakers are increasingly turning to screw caps. Now consumers are learning to get over their prejudice for cork, too.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 5:18 pm

Step aside, cork.

If you're a wine drinker, you've probably noticed that screw caps are no longer considered the closure just for cheap vino. Increasingly, bottles of very good wines are unscrewed, rather than uncorked.

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The Salt
4:22 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Why The Cod On Cape Cod Now Comes From Iceland

With local cod so scarce, Chef Toby Hill of Lyric Restaurant in Yarmouth Port, Mass., tries out a dogfish salad — served here with garlic aioli on toast — instead. Dogfish is still plentiful in New England waters, but wholesale fisheries say there's not much demand for it in the U.S.
Christine Hochkeppel Courtesy of Cape Cod Times

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 1:53 pm

Good luck finding local cod in Cape Cod, Mass.

The fish once sustained New England's fishing industry, but in recent years, regulators have imposed severe catch limits on cod, and the fish remain scarce.

"I've never seen cod fishing this bad," says Greg Walinsky, who has been fishing on Cape Cod for more than 30 years. "It looks to me like it's over. And I can't catch any codfish."

It's so bad, many fishermen say, that for the first time, they cannot catch enough cod to even reach shrinking government quotas.

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The Salt
4:22 am
Thu January 2, 2014

How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution

A dead carp floats in water near the shore at Big Creek State Park on Sept. 10 in Polk City, Iowa. Like many agricultural states, Iowa is working with the EPA to enforce clean-water regulations amid degradation from manure spills and farm-field runoff.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 9:27 am

It's a quandary of food production: The same drive for efficiency that lowers the cost of eating also can damage our soil and water.

Take the case of one simple, essential chemical element: phosphorus.

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The Salt
2:53 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Food As Punishment: Giving U.S. Inmates 'The Loaf' Persists

Lisa Brown for NPR

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 2:49 pm

In many prisons and jails across the U.S., punishment can come in the form of a bland, brownish lump. Known as nutraloaf, or simply "the loaf," it's fed day after day to inmates who throw food or, in some cases, get violent. Even though it meets nutritional guidelines, civil rights activists urge against the use of the brick-shaped meal.

Tasteless food as punishment is nothing new: Back in the 19th century, prisoners were given bread and water until they'd earned with good behavior the right to eat meat and cheese.

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The Salt
10:24 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Tummy Beer, Coffee Maker Cooking And Mini-Fasts: 2013's Most Read

Latte art, debunking Julia Child and dishwasher cooking: 2013 had something for everybody.
NPR staff

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:10 am

As we review our most popular posts of 2013, we can't help but notice some patterns, dear readers. It seems that you gravitate towards stories on the escapades of bacteria inside the gut, dieting, icky-looking school lunches and cooking tips ranging from how to handle raw chicken to coffee maker and dishwasher cooking.

And that's just fine with us, since those are some of the food stories we love, too.

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The Salt
2:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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Kitchen Window
11:03 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Cooking With A Cup O' Kindness (Beer, Cider Or Booze)

Sheri Castle's quick bread is based on popular beer bread recipes but uses hard apple cider instead.
Sheri Castle for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 5:32 am

In case you want to add a pinch of celebratory beverage to your first meal of the year, we invite you to look through the Kitchen Window. A spirited New Year's can come from the kitchen as well as the bar.

We've featured a number of stories using alcohol as an ingredient in cooking as well as in bartending — if it tastes good in a glass, it tastes good on a plate. It's also a great way to use up any leftover libations from your holiday celebrations.

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The Salt
5:07 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Here's How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative

Chris and Sara Guerre are among a growing number of farmers who have made the choice to rent land to farm instead of buy because of increasing property values.
Zac Visco for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:02 pm

Across the country, there's a wave of interest in local food. And a new generation of young farmers is trying to grow it.

Many of these farmers — many of whom didn't grow up on farms — would like to stay close to cities. After all, that's where the demand for local food is.

The problem is, that's where land is most expensive. So young farmers looking for affordable land are forced to get creative.

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The Salt
2:26 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

A Judge's Cookbook Reveals The Secrets Of Bialys And Bagels

Judge Michael Zusman's bialys are topped with roasted onions, poppy seeds and coarse salt.
Daniel Zwerdling NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:40 pm

There are two important things that you learn about Michael Zusman, baker and co-author of The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home, when you bake with him.

First, his real job has nothing to do with bread or writing recipes: He's a trial judge. "Full time," Zusman says. "Wear a black robe every day."

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The Salt
1:51 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Does Champagne Actually Get You Drunk Faster?

Each bottle of Champagne contains around 50 million bubbles. But will any of them accelerate the inebriation process?
Victor Bezrukov Flickr.com

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 2:39 pm

Every time I spend New Year's Eve with my mom, she tells me the same thing: "Be careful with that Champagne, honey. The bubbles go straight to the head. And it won't be pretty tomorrow."

Thanks, Mom. Glad you're looking after me after all these years.

But is she right?

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The Two-Way
4:58 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

The Other 'F Word': Brewer Responds To Starbucks Over Beer Name

After being told that one of his products infringed on a Starbucks trademark, brewpub owner Jeff Britton wrote the coffee company a check.
Exit 6 Brewery

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:51 pm

In general, getting a cease-and-desist letter from a big corporation isn't the mark of a good day. But after a brewery owner got a letter from a law firm representing Starbucks, he saw a chance to draw distinctions between the businesses — and to be funny.

The coffee company's bone of contention, Missouri brewer Jeff Britton was told in a Dec. 9 letter, was the use of the name "Frappicino" to describe a stout served at Exit 6 Brewery, a brewpub in a tidy strip mall in Cottleville, northwest of St. Louis.

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The Salt
4:57 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Was 2013 Really The Year Of The Paleo Diet?

A paleo-inspired breakfast of salmon, egg, cabbage and bacon.
David Leo Veksler Flickr

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

Google Trends has released its annual Zeitgeist list so that we can mull over the burning questions of the day.

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The Salt
3:52 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Cinnamon Can Help Lower Blood Sugar, But One Variety May Be Best

Studies suggest cinnamon can help control blood sugar, but if you want to incorporate more of this spice in your diet, consider using the Ceylon variety.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 11:47 am

If I say cinnamon, you say ... sugar? It's a popular combination, of course.

But if you're interested in the health-promoting effects of cinnamon, you may want to think anew about the spice.

For instance, says John Critchley, executive chef at Bourbon Steak Restaurant in Washington, D.C., why not add it to savory dishes? He uses cinnamon to create a spice and herb rub for lamb loin. He also whips up a great spinach salad with raisins, pine nuts and cinnamon.

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Food
7:59 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Taking The Snobbery Out Of Studying Wine

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 10:12 am

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

It's almost New Year's Eve when the bubbly flows freely, as friends and family gather reflect on the year that was and raise a glass to the one to come. But it can be tricky to select the right bottle to present to your host or to accompany your own meal, especially if terms like tannin and terroir can make the whole endeavor feel intimidated.

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Recipes
7:56 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Giving Hoppin' John An Indian Twist, Just For Luck

Eating black-eyed peas and rice is a New Year's tradition.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 10:35 am

Black-eyed peas and rice are thought to bring good luck when eaten on New Year's Day, typically converging in a dish called Hoppin' John. Those same two ingredients are also staples of Indian cooking.

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The Salt
3:43 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Time Is Running Out To Save Florida's Oranges

Ripening fruit in a grove in Plant City, Fla., this month. Florida citrus growers are worried about citrus greening, which causes bacteria to grow on the leaf and fruit, eventually killing the tree.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:15 pm

It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year.

The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California.

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The Salt
9:57 am
Fri December 27, 2013

2013 Was The Year Bills To Criminalize Animal Cruelty Videos Failed

A Humane Society investigation of a Wyoming pig breeding facility to the introduction of an ag-gag bill in Wyoming, which eventually failed.
Courtesy of Humane Society of the U.S.

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 2:07 pm

The past year was a busy one for the animal welfare activists who've turned their hidden cameras on confinement facilities where huge numbers of food animals are raised.

Livestock producers — and the policymakers they influence — were just as busy trying to make it illegal for activists to enter these facilities undercover.

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Found Recipes
2:43 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

J.R. Ewing And A Found Recipe For Poppy Seed Cookies

Aunt Ida and Uncle Julie in Winthrop Beach, Mass., in the 1940s.
Courtesy of the Brass Sisters

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:36 pm

During the holidays, family kitchens are ground zero for intense craziness: mixers whirling, timers buzzing, knives flying. So yes, it's understandable that many of us just stay out of way of the experienced cook — especially when the knives come out and Mama is talking under her breath.

But by staying out, you're missing out.

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Code Switch
2:25 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Cooking In A Latin-Jewish Melting Pot

Rebecca Lehrer thought that chicken soup with lime and cilantro was the way every Jewish family made it.
Courtesy of Rebecca Lehrer

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:16 pm

Code Switch has been writing about some overlooked cultural interactions that have helped shape Jewish-American identity, including the history of Latino and Jewish cultures.

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Planet Money
1:47 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

When The Supreme Court Decided Tomatoes Were Vegetables

Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

In a recent show, we talked about an importer that sold pillows shaped like stuffed animals. Or maybe they're stuffed animals that can be used as pillows.

It turns out, this distinction — is it fundamentally a pillow or a stuffed animal? — is important, because there's a tariff on pillows but not on stuffed animals.

This feels ridiculous and legalistic in the way that a lot of 21st century stories feel ridiculous and legalistic. But it turns out, this kind of thing goes back centuries.

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The Two-Way
1:41 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

McDonald's Shuts Down Website That Told Workers To Avoid Fast Food

Protesters demonstrate at a McDonald's in New York on Dec. 5. Protesters staged events in cities nationwide, demanding a pay raise to $15 per hour for fast-food workers and the right for them to unionize.
John Moore Getty Images

McDonald's has decided to shut down a website aimed at providing work and life advice to its employees after it was reported that it had urged workers not to eat the very fast food they are hired to produce.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's said Thursday that information on its McResources Line site had been taken out of context thus generating "unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary," according to a McDonald's spokeswoman.

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Shots - Health News
12:45 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Common Knee Surgery May Help No More Than A Fake Operation

Knee pain is common, but surgery isn't necessarily the answer, researchers say.
Inna Jacquemin iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 7:09 am

Go to the doctor with knee pain, and they might say you've got a meniscus tear and need surgery to fix it. But surgery for this common problem might not be any better at relieving pain than having no surgery at all, according to researchers who went to the trouble of performing fake surgery to find out.

The gold standard for medical research is a randomized controlled trial, but it's hard to sign people up if they might undergo pretend surgery.

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Around the Nation
9:20 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Struggling Food Banks Find New Ways To Fight Hunger

Food banks are struggling to provide dwindling supplies to a bigger base of recipients. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Bloomberg Businessweek contributor Roben Farzad about how food banks are coming up with new ways to feed the hungry.

Business
5:43 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports

A geoduck farm near Totten Inlet, Washington.
KBCS/Bellvue/Seattle/Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:23 am

China has closed its doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The state of Washington says it's losing as much as $600,000 a week.

Among the shellfish not being harvested is the geoduck, a long-necked clam that can fetch up to $150 per pound in China. It's a major export for the Pacific Northwest.

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