Harvest Desk

The Salt
2:35 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Kombucha: Magical Health Elixir Or Just Funky Tea?

Kombucha made by artisan tea brewer Bill Bond in Akron, Ohio, comes in an array of flavors, such as lemongrass, ginger, blueberry and watermelon.
Peggy Turbett The Plain Dealer /Landov

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 11:34 am

Chances are, you've seen it in your local grocery store. Maybe you've even mustered the courage to taste it — or at least take a whiff.

Once mostly a product of health food stores and hippies' kitchens, kombucha tea is now commercially available in many major grocery stores.

And people aren't necessarily scooping it up for its flavor. Its taste has been described as somewhere between vinegar soda and carbonated apple cider.

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The Salt
2:34 am
Mon September 30, 2013

To Get The Benefits Of Olive Oil, Fresh May Be Best

Experts say lots of factors determine how quickly an oil deteriorates — from the variety of the olives, to how the oil is produced and stored.
Matthias Schrader AP

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 5:17 pm

The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that lately has become a darling of medical researchers. It includes vegetables and grains, not so much meat and, of course, generous portions of olive oil.

Mary Flynn, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University, says the evidence that olive oil is good for your heart has never been more clear. "Olive oil is a very healthy food," she says. "I consider it more medicine than food."

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The Salt
6:03 am
Sat September 28, 2013

Birch For Breakfast? Meet Maple Syrup's Long-Lost Cousins

Beyond maple: Sap drips from a pine tree. Around the nation, producers are making syrup from the sap of pine, birch, even black walnut trees.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 2:17 pm

Americans have a longstanding love affair with maple syrup. According to the USDA, production of the sticky stuff in the United States totaled 3.25 million gallons this year. However, it isn't the only tree syrup that's available to drizzle on your short stack or sweeten your latte.

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The Salt
1:19 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Students Win Seed Money To Make Flour From Insects

MBA students from McGill University in Montreal are building a company to mass produce grasshoppers, seen here at a market in Oaxaca, Mexico.
William Neuheisel Flickr

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 3:55 pm

Mohammed Ashour has a big order to fill: By March 2014, he has to deliver 10 tons of grasshoppers to customers in Mexico.

He and four other MBA students at McGill University in Montreal have a plan to farm insects in poor countries and turn them into flour that can be used in everything from bread to corn tortillas. And on Monday, former President Bill Clinton handed them $1 million to make it happen.

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Food
11:23 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Food Fermentation: The Science of Sausage and Cheese

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We're here at the Wisconsin Science Festival at the Institute for Discovery in Madison and talking about a trip to America's dairy land, of course. Inevitably you're going to talk about food and fermentation. In the form of Wisconsin, it's famous for fermentation, one of the oldest ways of preserving food. It's also a way to get really unique flavors.

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The Salt
5:20 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Doctors Say Changes In Wheat Do Not Explain Rise Of Celiac Disease

About 40 years ago wheat breeders introduced new varieties of wheat that helped farmers increase their grain yields. But scientists say those varieties aren't linked to the rise in celiac disease.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 11:09 am

Wheat has been getting a bad rap lately.

Many folks are experimenting with the gluten-free diet, and a best-selling book called Wheat Belly has helped drive a lot of the interest.

"Wheat is the most destructive thing you could put on your plate, no question," says William Davis, a cardiologist in Milwaukee, Wis., who authored the book.

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The Salt
5:10 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

McDonald's Says Bye-Bye To Sugary Sodas In Happy Meals

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:29 pm

Fast-food giant McDonald's has made a commitment to stop marketing sodas as a beverage option in kids' Happy Meals.

Instead, the chain has committed to market and promote only milk, water and juice with the children's meals.

Now, if parents order a Coke or Sprite with their child's Happy Meal, they won't be turned down. But sodas will no longer be marketed or promoted visually in any of McDonald's advertisements or in-store visuals.

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Found Recipes
4:59 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Hash Browns To Soothe Any Homesick Midwesterner

If someone asked for onions and green peppers fried into his hash browns, the crunchy grated spuds became "glorified." Amy Thielen shared a recipe for All Things Considered's Found Recipe series.
Amy Thielen for NPR

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:09 pm

Ten years ago, when Amy Thielen moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., she and her husband bemoaned the lack of hash browns in the city. She says there were ample breakfast places serving home fries or sliced potatoes cooked with peppers and onions — but no hash browns.

"My husband would often rail when we would sit down to a plate of home fries," Thielen says. "He would say, 'Where is the dividing line? Where do hash browns stop in the United States?' "

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The Salt
2:02 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Are Chefs On Competitive Diets Good Public Health Messengers?

Chef Mike Isabella, who owns three restaurants in Washington, D.C., came up with the Fit for Hope weight loss challenge for his peers in the restaurant industry.
Donald Bowers Getty Images Entertainment

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 2:23 pm

Let's face it: In the popular imagination, the stereotypical chef has a large gut protruding from under his white double-breasted coat. And that stereotype is often accurate — by some estimates, 70 percent of chefs in the U.S. are overweight. Weight gain seems to be par for the course when you're spending your day tasting food and your late nights unwinding after a stressful dinner service.

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The Salt
12:24 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Why Can't Fish Oil Supplements Keep Our Brains Sharp?

If you eat fish, rather than take a fish-oil supplement, is there more likely to be a benefit? There's more than a suggestion that this is indeed the case.
Verena J Matthew iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 1:22 pm

Lots of people think of fish as brain food. And there's good reason.

Many kinds of fish — think salmon, sardines, tuna — contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a class of polyunsaturated fat, which have been shown to fight inflammation and improve the function of our neurons.

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The Salt
2:32 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Pork Politics: Why Some Danes Want Pig Meat Required On Menus

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 5:16 pm

In Denmark, pigs outnumber people 2 to 1. No traditional Danish meal would be complete without something wrapped in, wrapped around, or topped with pork.

In 2012, the country exported close to $6 billion in pig meat, a figure that includes "carcasses" — which leads to the question: What does one do with a pig carcass?

All this is by way of explaining the hubbub that erupted following a recent headline: "Day Cares Ban Pork."

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Parallels
10:47 am
Wed September 25, 2013

That's The Spirit: Why Indians Prefer Strong Beer, Liquor

A bartender pours Haywards 5000 strong beer into a glass at a restaurant in Mumbai. Strong beer, with alcohol content of 5 to 8 percent, accounted for 83 percent of all beer sold in India last year, according to research firm Mintel.
Danish Siddiqui Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:59 am

Sometimes we at Parallels see a story that's so compelling, we make an extra effort to chase down the facts. So it's in that spirit, this story from Reuters caught our attention:

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The Salt
9:48 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground

Stacey Kimmons and Audra Lewicki harvest lettuce at the Chicago Botanic Garden's 20,000-square-foot vegetable garden atop McCormick Place West in Chicago.
Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 2:03 pm

From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.

While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.

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Kitchen Window
2:50 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Gravenstein Apples: The End Of Summer In A Fruit

Nicole Spiridakis for NPR

In fall, my thoughts naturally turn to apples. Specifically, Gravensteins.

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Harvest Desk
6:09 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Largely Unpopular, Direct Payment Subsidies Persist

Farmer Bill Wendel says he doesn’t need his direct payments, sometimes known as “welfare for farmers.”
Credit Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

Congress is bitterly divided on food stamps and other issues contained in the farm bill, but both political parties agree on something: the $5 billion-a-year farm subsidy called Direct and Countercyclical Payments has got to go.

The program shells out to farmers and land owners regardless of need or loss. It’s a hold-out from a farm bill that promised an end to subsidies and it’s holding on only because Congress is so dysfunctional.  

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The Salt
4:17 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Global Love Of Bananas May Be Hurting Costa Rica's Crocodiles

A Costa Rican banana worker carries a stalk of freshly harvested fruit on a plantation in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas that Americans eat are grown.
Kent Gilbert AP

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 1:22 pm

Americans love bananas. Each year, we eat more bananas than any other fruit. But banana growers use a lot of pesticides — and those chemicals could be hurting wildlife. As a new study shows, the pesticides are ending up in the bodies of crocodiles living near banana farms in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas we eat are grown.

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Harvest Desk
11:26 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Sticker Shock - It's Not Just On New Tractors Anymore

Some estimates peg the market for used farm equipment in the U.S. at more than $100 billion annually, about five times the amount spent on new equipment each year.
Credit The Knowles gallery/flickr

Buying a new farm tractor costs almost as much as a new home in a decent suburb.  

Shelling out $200,000 or more for shiny new John Deere, Case IH, New Holland or other name brand horsepower to work the fields of a 21st century Midwestern farm isn’t unusual, farmers and dealers say.

What seems more unusual, to newcomers to farm economics at least, is that those shiny new models aren’t the hottest selling big iron on many dealers’ lots.  That would be the used tractors that were traded in when the new models rolled off the dealers’ flatbed trucks.

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Harvest Desk
9:21 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Obamacare Could Be Tough Sell In Rural Areas

Bob Bernt and his wife, Kristine, have gone without health insurance for the last 20 years, and don’t plan on buying coverage to meet the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” takes a big step forward Oct. 1 when new health insurance marketplaces open for enrollment. Rural families are more likely to qualify for subsidized coverage, but reaching them to sign up will be part of the challenge.

So, will farm country take advantage of new health insurance subsidies? That’s the question in Nebraska.

Almost 200,000 Nebraskans don’t have health insurance. Nearly half of them are spread across the state’s rural areas.

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The Salt
2:59 am
Tue September 24, 2013

This Elegant, Whimsical Pop-Up Dinner Party Had 4,000 Guests

At Diner en Blanc ("Dinner in White"), people arrive dressed all in white. They bring their own food and, fittingly,” white wine.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 10:15 am

On a gorgeous night, some 4,000 people, dressed all in white, have come to dine in a public, yet secret place in New York's Bryant Park.

They have come for Diner en Blanc, an unusual pop-up event that takes place in 20 countries. The guests eat in splendor at a location they only learn about minutes before they arrive. The thousands wave white napkins to signal the beginning of the event.

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The Two-Way
1:43 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Burger King: Customers Can Have Their Fries And Eat Them, Too

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 11:41 am

The world's No. 2 hamburger chain is rolling out lower fat, lower calorie french fries Tuesday.

Burger King says it hopes its Satisfries will attract health-conscious customers who have cut back on fries.

A small order of the new crinkle-cut fries has 270 calories, compared with 340 calories for a small order of regular fries.

Executives at the company say that except for the shape, customers won't be able to tell that Satisfries are lower in calories.

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Harvest Desk
8:27 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Singer-Songwriter's Ode To Agriculture

Susan Werner's family has worked the land in Iowa for generations since emigrating from Germany in the 1860s.

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Susan Werner has worked on concept albums before – from jazz standards to pop classics to Gospel music for agnostics. But now she's turned to her farm roots for inspiration.

Werner, who's currently touring in the Midwest, desribes her new CD, Hayseed, as "egg meets art," celebrating agriculture through music.

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The Salt
5:09 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Raising Tastier Sea Urchins For Foodies And The Environment

Sea urchins are considered a culinary delicacy, but supply can't keep up with demand.
Aizat Faiz Flickr

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 6:09 pm

Sea urchins are considered a culinary delicacy in many parts of the world, including Japan and the United States. The market for this "foie gras of the sea" is growing rapidly — so fast that supply can't keep up with demand.

But a scientist in Birmingham, Ala., says he's found a solution: He's built a sea urchin farm in his lab and has even developed a food for them to make them taste better. Now, he wants to take his tasty urchins out of his farm and into restaurants across the country.

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The Salt
1:49 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Sandwich Monday: The Woody Allen

The Woody Allen. There's a quarter in this photograph to give you a sense of scale, but it's so tiny you can't see it.
NPR

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:36 pm

So many great sandwiches have been named after great directors: the reuben, named for the great Ingmar Reuben, and the cheese sandwich, named for James Cameron. The Carnegie Deli in New York created the "Woody Allen," and our own Eleven City Diner here in Chicago copied it "oh so close." It's a double-decker corned beef and pastrami on rye.

Ian: Boy, the pastrami at this place is really good. And in such large portions!

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Harvest Desk
3:12 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Why Farmers Want New Equipment

Illinois farmer Len Corzine is surrounded by some of his brand new farm equipment.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

On a hot August day in late August, Kevin Bien stands in the shade of a large gray piece of farm equipment.  The brand marketing manager for Gleaner Combines gives his best spiel to a group of farmers attending the Farm progress Show  in Decatur.   Torque, efficiency, and new technology are among his key points for the prospective buyers of the large machines that can run anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.    

And farmers are buying. Frequently.

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The Salt
2:35 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Got Baguettes? Bakers' Lobby Tells France To Eat More Bread

Baguettes head into a giant oven at Le Grenier a Pain Bakery.
Eleanor Beardsley NPR

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 10:32 am

The French, it seems, aren't eating bread the way they used to. The average French person consumes just half a baguette a day, down from a full baguette 40 years ago.

Those statistics worry the French bakers' lobby, the Observatoire du Pain.

Bernard Vallius, who heads the group, says it used to be that people ate a sit-down lunch and dinner with family or friends every day. Now people — especially the young and those who live in cities — eat sandwiches or skip lunch altogether and snack, he says.

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The Salt
3:59 pm
Sun September 22, 2013

Move Over Vodka; Korean Soju's Taking A Shot At America

Boxes of empty Jinro soju bottles sit in a downtown Seoul, South Korea, shop on April 1, 2005.
Jung Yeon-Je AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 2:35 pm

Every year, the trade magazine Drinks International puts out a list of the top-selling alcohols in the world, and in the category of spirits, there is one brand that more than doubles the sales of its closest competitor every year. Smirnoff, Jack Daniel's and Bacardi don't even come close.

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The Salt
4:35 am
Sat September 21, 2013

No Schmear Job: A Brief History Of Bagels And Lox

A marriage made in New York, though both partners came with plenty of baggage.
Jerry Deutsch iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 4:35 pm

There's a certain kind of joy in breaking the overnight fast by biting into a bagel: crackling crust, chewy center, smooth and silky cream cheese, sharp smoked salmon. For some, capers and onions join the ritual.

But just who invented this breakfast staple, which has become as American as apple pie?

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The Salt
4:28 am
Sat September 21, 2013

Trader Joe's Ex-President To Turn Expired Food Into Cheap Meals

Doug Rauch wants to take wholesome food that grocers have to throw away and cook and sell it as low-cost, prepared meals.
Bunnyhero Flickr

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:18 pm

Here's some food for thought: One-third of the world's food goes to waste every year. In the U.S., about 40 percent of our food gets thrown out. It's happening on the farm, at the grocery store and in our own homes.

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The Salt
2:22 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Diet Of Defeat: Why Football Fans Mourn With High-Fat Food

Football fans ate fattier meals the day after their teams lost a game, a study found.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 4:35 pm

Backing a losing NFL team isn't just bad for your pride.

It's bad for your waistline.

A study that links sports outcomes with the eating behavior of fans finds that backers of NFL teams eat more food and fattier food the day after a loss. Backers of winning teams, by contrast, eat lighter food, and in moderation.

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The Two-Way
6:12 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

House Votes To Slash $40 Billion From Food Stamp Program

A woman and her daughter shop for groceries in New York City's Union Square using electronic benefits transfer (EBT), more commonly known as food stamps, on Wednesday.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 7:51 pm

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted Thursday to slash $40 billion from the federal food stamp program.

GOP lawmakers cited what they said was widespread abuse of the program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is intended to help poor individuals and families buy groceries.

The vote to cut food stamps came on a party line vote of 217-200.

"It's wrong for working, middle-class people to pay" for abuse of the program, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.

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