Harvest Desk

Paul Sableman

Housing authorities spent on pricey dinners at training junkets and retirement bonuses for employees while public housing complexes in the state’s poorest county fell into serious disrepair.

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Lots of you have told us that the dinner scramble is tough.

As a culture, we aspire to sit-down, home-cooked meals. But we often don't have the time or energy to pull them off.

Not long ago, I tried a new kind of Doritos tinted a shade of orange that I'll wager does not exist in the vegetable world. These JACKED Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Flavored chips were so intensely tinted that after four chips, I had to stop eating them. My mind simply wouldn't accept them as food.

What was behind that exceedingly bold hue of orange? Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake and Yellow 5 Lake, according to the label.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is temporarily closing more than 40 restaurants in and around Seattle and Portland, Ore., as health officials investigate an E. coli outbreak that has gotten at least 22 people sick.

USA Today reports:

Outside of Phoenix, in the scorching Arizona desert, sits a farm that Saudi Arabia's largest dairy uses to make hay for cows back home.

That dairy company, named Almarai, bought the farm last year and has planted thousands of acres of groundwater-guzzling alfalfa to make that hay. Saudi Arabia can't grow its own hay anymore because those crops drained its own ancient aquifer.

Reporter Nathan Halverson tells NPR's Renee Montagne that Almarai bought about 15 square miles in the Arizona desert.

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We've heard a lot about the negative effects of climate change in the arctic and subarctic. But some Alaskans, like farmer Tim Meyers, are seeing warming temperatures as an opportunity.

Now that potato harvest is underway at his Bethel farm, Meyers uses a giant potato washer, like a washing machine for root vegetables, to clean California white potatoes.

They're some of the only commercially produced vegetables in this southwestern Alaska region, about the size of Oregon.

Meyers says the warming summers are a big part of his success.

Food Guru Says 'You're Eating It Wrong'

Nov 1, 2015
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In Orange County, Calif., there's no shortage of restaurants selling bánh mì, that delicious Vietnamese sandwich of meat, pate, fresh and pickled vegetables on a crunchy baguette. The OC's Little Saigon is home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam. One shop in the town of Westminster stands out from the rest: It's got an actual pop star behind the counter, a woman known as the Vietnamese Madonna.

Lynda Trang Dai is certainly glamorous for a sandwich maven. She sports stiletto heels, a short skirt, and perfect make-up — including false eyelashes.

Candy corn is as ubiquitous at Halloween as tiny witches and skeletons knocking on neighborhood doors. And it turns out the story of how this and other sweet treats came to dominate the ghoulish holiday is a bittersweet one – in which enterprise and racism are as intertwined as the layers of a rainbow lollipop.

The roots of America's candy boom lie in the 1920s. Sugar trade routes that had been disrupted during World War I were once again open for business. The result: a glut of sugar that led to a steep crash in prices.

Pumpkins of almost any variety have flesh high in fiber and beta carotene. Their seeds, delicious when toasted or baked, can be rich in potassium and protein.

But we didn't eat the vast majority of the 1.91 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the U.S. in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Instead we, of course, carved faces into them, set them aglow and perhaps left them to sit outside for days. And then we tossed them.

Earlier this week, several dozen chefs from around the country gathered to hear words of wisdom from Tom Colicchio.

"Have fun with it," Colicchio, a celebrity chef and award-winning restaurateur, told them, adding, "Let your passion come through."

But this wasn't the next batch of hopefuls on Top Chef, the feisty cooking show on which he stars. We were in a Capitol Hill restaurant, and this was a new generation of lobbyists.

The late Vincent Price was a horror film icon. With perfect elocution, he delivered creepy invitations to haunted houses in such movies as House of Wax (1953) and House on Haunted Hill (1959). He was a regular on TV's Hollywood Squares and a villain on the 1960s TV series Batman. Price's deep voice narrated Michael Jackson's 1982 music video for "Thriller" and was an inspiration to director Tim Burton. But Price was also a foodie.

Long before the homemade vibes of food podcasts, there were folksy radio homemakers. These early 20th-century women offered recipes, life hacks and insights for the modern farmer's wife. And just like podcasts today, their shows were often personal, off-the-cuff and straight from the kitchen table.

Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

Erik Terstriep, perched in the captain’s chair of his combine, glides through eight rows of corn at a time.

Cod was once so plentiful in New England that legend had it you could walk across the local waters by stepping on the backs of the fish.

Now, though, this tasty species is in such trouble there that cod fishing is practically shut down.

And scientists say it looks like rapid warming in the Gulf of Maine explains why regulators' recent efforts to help the cod while allowing fishing were a failure.

One Internet commenter in France will have less to spend on French cuisine after being fined for writing a review of an eatery that had yet to open.

Would you be able to tell if the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon you ordered for dinner was swapped out for a less expensive piece of farm-raised salmon?

For the observant, the color difference between the two would likely be the first giveaway. (Sockeye has a deeper red-orange hue.) Or maybe you'd notice the disparity in the thickness of fillet. (Sockeye is flatter and less steaky in appearance.)

Ever wondered how a few companies — namely Coca-Cola and PesiCo — created multibillion-dollar empires marketing flavored sugar water?

Nutrition scholar Marion Nestle, one of the most dogged chroniclers of the U.S. food industry and its politics, did. She was intrigued by the power of Big Soda and how it's responding to flat sales in the U.S.

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to New Yorker writer Michael Specter about his article, "Freedom from Fries," on the rise of fast casual food and the impact on the fast food industry.

Editor's note: There is an offensive word in this post. It's an important part of this discussion.

What goes best with a hot cup of tea? A heaping spoonful of gossip, of course.

Known for their calm temperaments and soft fleece, alpacas were at one time the next hot thing to backyard farmers. A decade ago, the market was frenetic, with some top of the line animals selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the bubble burst, leaving thousands of alpaca breeders with near-worthless herds. Today, craigslist posts across the country advertise “herd liquidations” and going-out-of-business deals on alpacas, some selling for as little as a dollar.

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now says all overweight and obese Americans between 40 and 70 years old should get their blood sugar levels tested.

The advisory group's previous recommendation, drafted in 2008, made no mention of weight, instead suggesting that doctors routinely test the blood sugar of patients who have high blood pressure, another risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

Whether you're planning a restaurant date night or picking out the next e-book for your bedside table, it wouldn't hurt to be more suspicious of online reviewers' expertise.

Catfishing and astroturfing don't take place in the Amazon or on the football field. They occur in cyberspace in the form of Internet scams. E-book catfishing involves contracting a book from a low-paid writer overseas, publishing it under a fake name and a fictional biography, and buying fake reviews to make the book look popular.

The World Health Organization made an announcement Monday that's likely to come as a blow to anyone whose favorite outdoor snack is a hot dog.

Processed meats — yes, hot dogs, plus sausage, ham, even turkey bacon — are cancer-causing, a committee of scientists with WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded. And it classified red meat as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

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The World Health Organization has deemed that processed meats — such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs — can cause cancer.

In addition, the WHO says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are "probably carcinogenic" to people.

From the rim of Ecuador's Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, it's at least a 45-minute drive (no, more like plunge) down a winding, bone-crushing dirt road to the floor of the crater. But it's well worth it. After all, how often do you get to say you've traveled to what's billed as the world's only inhabited, cultivated volcano?