Harvest Desk

Around the Nation
7:04 am
Sun November 17, 2013

Bike Evangelist Wants To Put More Riders In The Low Seat

Andrew Duncan Carson makes recumbent bikes out of recycled parts in his garage. He says he'll never ride an upright bike again.
Jon Kalish NPR

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 11:24 am

After several knee operations, 66-year-old Marilyn Cowser of Greenfield, Wis., found herself no longer able to Rollerblade or ride her bike.

She was advised to try a recumbent bike, but when Cowser went to her local bike shop, she found they were selling for upwards of $1,500. Cowser wasn't willing to spend that kind of money, so she went to see a guy about a half-hour away who builds recumbents in his garage.

"When I got there, he had them all out," she says. "And I got on this one and took off. I mean, I just went."

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The Salt
5:35 am
Sun November 17, 2013

MSG, Seasoned For A Comeback

According to legend, Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda discovered the food additive monosodium glutamate in 1908 after contemplating the meaty flavor of seaweed soup.
Jung K Oh iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:20 pm

Umami, that savory fifth taste — in addition to bitter, sour, sweet and salty — has become a sought-after flavor in the culinary scene.

Not quite so beloved is the umami additive monosodium glutamate — MSG, as it's more popularly known. For decades it's been vilified, maligned and, some say, misunderstood.

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The Salt
5:35 am
Sun November 17, 2013

'Anything That Moves' Explores America's Extreme Food Culture

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 3:20 pm

Author Dana Goodyear has spent a lot of time dining with foodies who champion bugs as a meal. And horses. And brains. Whales. Leaves. Weeds. Ash. Hay. Even plain dirt.

Goodyear, a staff writer for The New Yorker, set out to document the outer bounds of the extreme food culture that has taken hold among American foodies. Their quest for ever more exotic, challenging ingredients, she says, is raising fundamental questions about the nature of food itself and the assumptions that underlie what we view as acceptable to eat.

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The Salt
11:07 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Menu Site Makes It Easy To Compare Restaurant Fat Stats

MenuStat, a new website by the New York City Department of Health, allows users to compare the calorie counts of items between restaurants, over time.
Screenshot of MenuStat.org

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 3:43 pm

New York City became a leader in pushing restaurants to be more transparent when it required calorie counts on menus in 2006. Now the city's health department has developed a new tool for those who'd like even more detailed information about restaurant food.

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TED Radio Hour
8:20 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Where Does General Tso Chicken Actually Come From?

Andrew Heavens TED

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 8:38 am

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Misconceptions.

About Jennifer 8. Lee's Talk

Journalist Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her hunt for the origins of familiar Chinese-American dishes — exploring the hidden spots where these two cultures have combined to form a new cuisine.

About Jennifer 8. Lee

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The Salt
8:06 am
Fri November 15, 2013

How Coffee, Citrus And Nuts Help Cut The Risk Of Diabetes

Coffee can help cut your risk of Type 2 diabetes, fresh research shows. Other foods, such as oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits, nuts and beans can also help.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 1:45 pm

If you go back to the 1970s, people with a serious coffee habit often had an accompanying habit: smoking.

And that's why early studies gave coffee a bad rap. Clearly, smoking was harmful. And it was hard for researchers to disentangle the two habits. "So it made coffee look bad in terms of health outcomes," Harvard researcher Meir Stampfer explained to me.

But fast-forward a quarter century, and the rap on coffee began to change.

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The Salt
2:01 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Philippines Disaster Rekindles Fight Over Food Aid Rules

A relief worker looks over boxes of aid provided by the U.S. on November 14, 2013 in Leyte, Philippines. Proponents of food aid reform say it makes more sense for the U.S. to buy food donations locally than ship them across the globe.
Chris McGrath Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:49 am

Emergency aid, including stocks of food, started arriving this week in cyclone-devastated areas of the Philippines; more is on the way.

The first wave of aid — high-energy biscuits designed to keep people alive when food is scarce — arrived via airlift. Huge shiploads of rice will be needed in the weeks and months to come. And exactly how the U.S. donates of that rice is a flashpoint in a long-running debate in Washington, D.C., about food aid.

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The Salt
4:59 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

What's The Most Important Thing Food Labels Should Tell Us?

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:29 pm

Food labels have become battlegrounds. Just last week, voters in Washington state narrowly defeated a measure that would have required food manufacturers to reveal whether their products contain genetically modified ingredients.

Supporters of the initiative — and similar proposals in other states — say that consumers have a right to know what they're eating.

But there are lots of things we might want to know about our food. So what belongs on the label?

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Found Recipes
3:56 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

A Quest For The Perfect Quince Paste Yields A Great Sauce

Courtesy of Tammy Donroe Inman

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 12:03 pm

A good quince can be hard to find. And for many, they're also hard to define.

Tammy Donroe Inman, who wrote the dessert cookbook Wintersweet and blogs at Food on the Food, says the tough yellow fruits are rock hard straight off the bush, and have a strong fragrance when raw – kind of like a green apple Jolly Rancher.

"But when you cook them, the flavor is different," says . "It's more like a cross between an apple and a pear, with a little hint of an exotic flower fragrance."

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The Salt
1:41 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Philadelphia Children's Hospital Bars Herbs And Supplements

Dietary supplements are generally defined as vitamins, minerals, herbs and extracts. They're regulated as a unique category of food by the Food and Drug Administration.
iStockphoto.com

One of the nation's largest and oldest children's hospitals is cracking down on parents who bring their kids herbs, extracts or other dietary supplements.

In what it describes as a break from other hospitals, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP, last month removed most dietary supplements from its list of approved medicines, and established new policies for administering them.

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The Salt
3:34 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

It's National Indian Pudding Day! Here's Why You Should Celebrate

Indian pudding, served warm with vanilla ice cream — a dish well worth celebrating.
Katherine Perry NPR

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:08 am

Turns out, Nov. 13 is National Indian Pudding Day. It sneaked up on you again, didn't it?

You can't be blamed.

Indian pudding is virtually unknown outside of New England, and even there it's tricky to find. But this enduring New England dessert may actually deserve a day of its own.

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The Salt
2:14 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Could Hunger Make Us More Charitable?

Researchers have a hunch that because we often had to share food to survive, we're inclined to be more interested in giving when we're hungry.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 3:44 pm

Hunger can make people emotional, that's for sure. Some people get "hangry" when their blood sugar levels drop and their irritability rises. Others get greedy.

But new research suggests that we may have another, innate response to hunger: a desire to encourage others to share what they have.

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The Salt
11:18 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Why Can We Taste Bitter Flavors? Turns Out, It's Still A Mystery

The first taste of an olive can be a bit shocking. But eventually, many of us start to enjoy bitter fruits, nuts and beverages.
Screenshot from TEDxTalks/Youtube.com

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:08 am

For most of us, bitter foods aren't love at first bite. (Not convinced? Just watch the little girl in the video above taste an olive for the first time.)

But after a few espressos or IPAs, most of us warm up to bitter flavors and eventually throw our arms in the air, like the little girl in the video, declaring, "Yes, I love bitter foods!"

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All Tech Considered
9:52 am
Wed November 13, 2013

This Device Lets You Order A Pizza With The Push Of A Button

Parts for the PiePal were 3-D printed.
Courtesy of iStrategyLabs

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 10:01 pm

In our Weekly Innovation series, we pick an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Got an innovation you think we should feature? Fill out our form.

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Harvest Desk
6:00 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Illinois Pumpkins On Thanksgiving Tables

John Ackerman's family farm, just east of Morton, Ill.
Peter Gray/WUIS

This Thanksgiving, hungry families all over the country will finish off their holiday meal with a little slice of the Midwest. That’s because the vast majority of all pumpkin that comes from a can and winds up in a pie got its start on a vine in Illinois.

Pumpkin patches are popular destinations for families seeking fall fun, and you’ll find roadside farm stands all over the country. But this is big business in Illinois, where farmers feed canning factories hungry for a special kind of pumpkin that looks nothing like those you see on Halloween.

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Kitchen Window
11:03 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

New Nordic Is Cool, But Old Scandinavian Food Holds Its Own

Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:08 am

When Copenhagen's Noma was named the world's best restaurant a few years ago, it introduced a wider audience to the concept of New Nordic cuisine. A movement that swept Scandinavia (and, subsequently, the rest of the culinary world), New Nordic combines the oft-maligned and little known local ingredients with modern technique and playful vision. Reindeer and lichen, meet Thermomix and Pacojet.

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The Salt
4:16 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Chef Chat: We Pick The Brains Of Ottolenghi And Tamimi

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi grab a quick breakfast with NPR's Madhulika Sikka. They stopped by NPR in October to talk food philosophy.
Morgan Walker/ NPR

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi own four wildly popular London restaurants and have authored runaway best-selling cookbooks for omnivores and vegetarians alike.

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The Salt
10:12 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Have Bitcoin To Burn? Next Stop Could Be The Farm

Economists say small-business owners — especially farmers dealing in high volume and low profit margins — are more likely to accept a volatile currency like Bitcoin than bigger businesses.
Allen Sheffield Flickr

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 1:54 pm

For food producers who sell directly to consumers, credit cards are both a blessing and a curse.

They're a way to do business with cashless customers, but 3 percent of every credit card sale is usually charged to the farmer as a transaction fee. That adds up in a high-volume, low-profit business like agriculture.

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Harvest Desk
2:51 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Higher Beef Prices: Good For Producers; May Be Tough On Consumers

These cattle on Jeff Longnecker's farm in Story County, Iowa, are part of a herd he's hoping to grow.
Credit Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Once again, the prognosticators are saying beef prices are on the rise. We’ve seen this before—last year, the drought and high feed prices were being blamed.

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The Salt
1:55 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Sandwich Monday: Subway Sriracha Chicken Melt

A pre-fight screen in the new edition of Sandwich Kombat.
Subway

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 11:58 am

It's been a big couple of weeks for Sriracha hot sauce. First, a Los Angeles suburb sued a Sriracha factory for allegedly producing a spicy toxic cloud. And now, Subway has unveiled its Sriracha Chicken Melt, made with only the finest spicy toxic cloud.

Ian: I'm guessing it's spicy because the Subway sandwich artist started by telling me my Sandwich Safe Word.

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The Salt
11:54 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Prince Charles: Organic Innovator, Biscuit Maker

The first product Duchy Originals launched was the Oaten Biscuit, and it's still a top seller today.
April Fulton for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 4:23 pm

Who knew Prince Charles started one of the first organic and locally sourced food companies in the world over 21 years ago?

Not us, until we got a pitch from his public relations outfit, inviting us to "entertain like the Royals" this holiday season with "Duchy Originals from Waitrose."

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Harvest Desk
10:00 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Report: Rural Illinois Continues Losing Jobs, Population

Credit USDA

Data collected between 2010 and 2012 indicate Illinois' nonmetro areas had the second highest losses of jobs in the nation.

The state of Arizona also saw a 1.8 percent decline in rural employment over the past two years, while losses were especially large in Arkansas - down 4.1 percent.  

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Shots - Health News
8:27 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Sweat Your Way To A Healthier Brain

He feels smarter already.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 7:14 am

Moving your body may be the best way to protect your brain.

Physical exercise can ease depression, slow age-related memory loss and prevent Parkinson-like symptoms, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting underway in San Diego.

The findings — some in animals, some in people — suggest that people may be making a mistake if they're relying primarily on crossword puzzles and brain-training games for mental wellness.

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Commentary
4:12 am
Sun November 10, 2013

Mallomars: The Cookie Everyone Likes To Hoard

Mallomars

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 10:24 am

Mallomars turn 100 years old this month. Over the years, the chocolatey marshmallow treat has gathered a cultlike following. For those who have yet to discover Mallomars, take heed — you may soon have a new addiction.

It's Mallomar season right now, which may seem strange since Mallomars are commercially packaged cookies, not apples. But the round graham crackers topped with marshmallow and covered in dark chocolate are actually packaged seasonally.

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The Salt
4:30 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

The Enigmatic Pecan: Why So Pricey, And How To Pronounce It?

Where In the U.S. do people say pee-kahn over pi-kahn? Joshua Katz answered your burning question by mapping Bert Vaux's dialect survey on regional variations in the continental United States.
Courtesy of Joshua Katz

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 2:08 pm

The price of pecans is going up, up, up, which may mean that if you're planning a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, the time to buy them is now. The reasons behind that escalating price all come down to natural forces: supply and demand and weather.

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The Salt
3:32 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Can We Eat Our Way To A Healthier Microbiome? It's Complicated

While no one's sure which foods are good for our microbiomes, eating more veggies can't hurt.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 9:27 am

When our colleague Rob Stein got his microbiome analyzed recently in the name of science journalism, we were totally fascinated.

As Stein noted, it may be possible to cultivate a healthier community of bacteria on and inside us by modifying our diets.

Stein was advised to eat more garlic and leeks for his. But we wondered: Are there other foods that promote a healthy microbiome in most people?

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Harvest Desk
11:07 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Harvest Blog: Changing Illinois, Hungry World

Peter and father, Bert, tilling a backyard garden in 1987
Credit Cheryl Gray

I come to Harvest Public Media as a reporter standing at the intersection of rural and urban life.  It is a fascinating place to be in the young 21st century.

Growing up in Oswego, Ill., I watched my backyard turn from cornfield to the carefully trimmed suburban lawns of Chicagoland’s residential expansion. The land my Norwegian immigrant great-grandparents tilled in the 1900s is likely a restaurant, big box retail store or strip mall today.

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The Salt
10:35 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Hunger Games: What's Behind Yelp's Fake Restaurant Reviews?

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 1:58 pm

When it comes to scouting out a new bakery, pizzeria or noodle shop, there are few review sites that compare to Yelp. In turn, the reviews left on sites like Yelp can have a big effect on many restaurants' bottom lines.

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Television
3:47 am
Fri November 8, 2013

2 Finalists Vie To Be 'Master Chef Junior'

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 9:17 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Tonight, a big moment for a couple of extraordinary chefs. They were originally 24 but after unimaginable cooking challenges, devastating eliminations, and, yes, some tears, the field is down to two. We're talking about the reality cooking show "Master Chef Junior." These contestants were ages eight to 13. Some stood on crates to reach their cooking stations? The two finalists: 12 year old Dara Yu and 13 year old Alexander Weiss. We spoke to them, along with one of the celebrity judges, Joe Bastianich.

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The Salt
5:55 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

How 17th Century Fraud Gave Rise To Bright Orange Cheese

Shelburne Farms' clothbound cheddar has a bright yellow color because it's made from the milk of cows that graze on grasses high in beta-carotene.
Courtesy of A. Blake Gardner

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 8:46 am

The news from Kraft last week that the company is ditching two artificial dyes in some versions of its macaroni and cheese products left me with a question.

Why did we start coloring cheeses orange to begin with? Turns out there's a curious history here.

In theory, cheese should be whitish — similar to the color of milk, right?

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