Harvest Desk

The Salt
3:19 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Vanilla, Nutmeg Spice And Everything Nice On A Zanzibar Farm

Vanilla is seemingly a prima donna spice because its pods have to be hand-pollinated and then boiled and dried in the direct sun for only one hour.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 12:45 pm

Let's start with a spice quiz. One is a bean discovered in Mexico. One's a tree native to India. One's the seed of a fruit discovered in Indonesia.

Today vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg can all be found in any spice farm in Zanzibar — the East African archipelago that was used as a spice plantation by the 18th century Omani Empire.

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Food
4:22 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

'The Katering Show' Reflects The Plight Of Food Intolerance

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 11:40 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Good news for the food intolerant and their best friends - there's now an online cooking show to help you cope.

(SOUNDBITE OF "THE KATERING SHOW")

KATE MCCARTNEY: I'm Kate McCartney.

KATE MCLENNAN: I'm Kate McLennan.

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The Salt
3:00 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

A Top Weedkiller Could Cause Cancer. Should We Be Scared?

Central Illinois corn farmer Jerry McCulley refills his sprayer with the weedkiller glyphosate on a farm near Auburn, Ill. A new assessment of the chemical finds that the (uncertain) risks mainly affect the people who work with it or who come in direct contact with areas where it's applied.
Seth Perlman AP

An international committee of cancer experts shocked the agribusiness world a few days ago when it announced that two widely used pesticides are "probably carcinogenic to humans." The well-respected International Agency for Research on Cancer published a brief explanation of its conclusions in The Lancet and plans to issue a book-length version later this year.

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The Salt
12:15 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Why There's A Big Battle Brewing Over The Lean Meat In Your Diet

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 12:22 pm

Never underestimate the power of a footnote.

When a panel of nutrition scientists tasked with updating the government's guidelines on healthy eating released its 500-plus-page tome on Feb. 19, one particular 52-word footnote threw a wrench into the conventional wisdom on lean meat. It caught the meat industry's eye, and it's created a controversy.

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The Salt
2:36 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Koreans Have An Insatiable Appetite For Watching Strangers Binge Eat

Rachel Ahn, who goes by "Aebong-ee," is among the top 100 most-watched mukbang stars in South Korea.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 5:14 pm

Move over, cooking shows. In Korea, the big food fad is eating shows, or mukbang. Korean viewers are so glued to watching strangers binge eating that the live-streamers consuming calories in front of webcams are becoming minor celebrities in Korean culture.

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The Salt
4:03 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Even Neil DeGrasse Tyson Is Now Munching On Bugs

Neil deGrasse Tyson with a Cambodian cricket rumaki canape, wrapped in bacon. "I have come to surmise, in the culinary universe, that anytime someone feels compelled to wrap something in bacon, it probably doesn't taste very good," he said skeptically before taking a bite.
Carole Zimmer for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 5:08 pm

More than 1,000 guests in gowns and tuxedos crowded into a two-story hall on Saturday night at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Standing among a pack of well-preserved African elephants, they sampled the delicacies offered by waiters wending their way through the throngs. They had come for the annual dinner of the Explorers Club — and the cocktail-hour fare certainly required an adventurous palate: All of it was made of insects.

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The Salt
1:57 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Sandwich Monday: Burger King's YUMBO

A look within.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 2:57 pm

Nobody is more excited about Burger King's new Chicken Fries — fried chicken strips shaped and served like french fries — than Burger King. The workers at the Chicago store we visited were all dressed in large, sacklike yellow Chicken Fries T-shirts, and a chicken mascot cavorted on the electronic menu, next to a picture of the item.

"Two orders of Chicken Fries!" I said, infected, salmonella-like, with their joy.

"We don't have any Chicken Fries," said the server.

I pointed mutely at the dancing chicken above her head.

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The Salt
12:45 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Liberte, Egalite, Gastronomie? France Rallies To Defend Its Food's Honor

A sampling of the multicourse menu served at the Gout de France dinner at the French embassy in Washington, D.C.: (clockwise from top left): seasonal vegetables with winter truffle Bayonne ham crisps; slowly cooked monkfish with fennel pollen flavors in "Armoricaine" sauce; Ariane apple and Guanaja chocolate onctueux; Saint-Nectaire cheese and grilled bread with nuts and raisins.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 9:48 am

What do the French do when their economy and identity are under assault? Throw a dinner party, of course – a global one.

From Madagascar to Washington, D.C., more than 1,000 French chefs on five continents hosted multi-course gastronomic dinners last Thursday in celebration – and defense – of France's culinary prowess.

At one dinner, at the Chateau of Versailles west of Paris, around 600 guests (including NPR), dined in the lamp-lit Battles' Gallery, flanked by oil paintings of French military victories through the ages.

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The Salt
5:18 am
Sun March 22, 2015

Foraging In The Office Fridge: Petty Theft Or Public Service?

Snarky notes may not do much to ward off office fridge thieves. "I came across one guy who will intentionally steal people's food when they leave snarky notes," says Dan Pashman, host of the Sporkful.
Photo Illustration by Ryan Kellman/NPR

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 9:14 am

There is perhaps no greater opportunity to introduce tension into the workplace than within the walls of the office refrigerator. It's a social experiment without a set list of rules to guide behavior, and no authority to enforce what's appropriate.

Is a dollop of ketchup too much? What if someone's sandwich has been in there for days?

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Business
8:34 am
Sat March 21, 2015

As Americans Eat Healthier, Processed Foods Starting To Spoil

This week Kraft Foods recalled nearly 2.5 million boxes of macaroni and cheese that were potentially contaminated with metal pieces. Kraft and other processed food manufacturers are facing many challenges.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 1:24 pm

Kraft Foods is going through a rough patch.

This week, Kraft recalled nearly 2.5 million boxes of macaroni and cheese that were potentially contaminated with metal pieces.

Also, Kraft Singles, a pre-sliced processed cheese product, earned a nutritional seal from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The seal prompted outrage from nutritionists.

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Goats and Soda
2:57 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

For The Love Of Pork: Antibiotic Use On Farms Skyrockets Worldwide

Regions that produce the most pork and chicken also use the most antibiotics on farms. Hot spots around the world include the Midwest in the U.S., southern Brazil, and China's Sichuan province. Yellow indicates low levels of drug use in livestock; orange and light red are moderate levels; and dark red is high levels.
PNAS

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 1:21 am

Sorry bacon lovers, we've got some sad news about your favorite meat.

To get those sizzling strips of pork on your plate each morning takes more antibiotics than it does to make a steak burrito or a chicken sausage sandwich.

Pig farmers around the world, on average, use nearly four times as much antibiotics as cattle ranchers do, per pound of meat. Poultry farmers fall somewhere between the two.

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The Salt
2:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Why Los Angeles' Fast Food Ban Did Nothing To Check Obesity

An economist with the Rand Corporation argues that Los Angeles' fast-food ban failed because it merely blocked new construction or expansion of "stand-alone fast-food" restaurants in neighborhoods where that style of restaurant was uncommon to begin with.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:34 pm

There's a researcher at the RAND Corporation who has been building a reputation as a curmudgeonly skeptic when it comes to trendy ways to fight America's obesity epidemic.

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Harvest Desk
7:25 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Kraft recalls Mac & Cheese

The Kraft Foods Group is recalling nearly 250,000 boxes of its macaroni and cheese dinner.  The recall comes after metal was found in some packages.

The recalled product is limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the Original flavor of boxed dinner with the “Best When Used By” dates of September 18, 2015 through October 11, 2015, with the code “C2” directly below the date on each individual box. The “C2” refers to a specific production line on which the affected product was made.

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The Salt
4:05 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Both Parties Agree The Food Stamp Program Needs To Change. But How?

A new budget plan that calls for turning food stamps into a block grant program for states could affect stores that accept food stamps through an Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, system like this one in Memphis.
Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 11:21 am

When it comes to the food stamps — or SNAP benefits as they're now called — there are few areas where Republicans and Democrats agree. But getting some of the 46 million people now receiving SNAP into the work force is one of them.

Last year Congress approved $200 million for states to test the best way to move people into jobs. And today, the Obama administration is announcing grants to 10 states to do just that.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the demonstration projects should help able-bodied recipients take advantage of an improving economy.

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The Salt
5:24 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Watch Your Back, Kale. Kelp Is Gunning For The Veggie Du Jour Title

Alaria, a type of seaweed also known as "Wild Atlantic Wakame," grows in the North Atlantic Ocean and is similar to Japanese wakame, a common ingredient in miso soup.
Courtesy of Sarah Redmond

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 1:47 pm

The story of how kale went from frumpy to trendy is a great inspiration to Gabriela Bradt, a fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"Nobody cared about kale. Then it became the green du jour," says Bradt.

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The Salt
10:33 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Cramped Chicken Cages Are Going Away. What Comes Next?

Free-range houses allow chickens to move around freely, but operating costs were 23 percent higher than for traditional cages, according to a new study.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 2:57 pm

For the past two years, at an undisclosed location in the Upper Midwest, a large commercial egg farm has been probed with every tool of modern science. Researchers have collected data on feed consumed, eggs produced, rates of chicken death and injury, levels of dust in the air, microbial contamination and dollars spent. Graduate students have been assigned to watch hours of video of the hens in an effort to rate the animals' well-being.

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The Salt
3:26 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Pain From The Grain: Corn Belt Towns Languish As Prices Drop

With corn production expected to remain high, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting that prices will continue to fall well into next year.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 5:27 pm

On a recent snowy afternoon on a farm in central Illinois, Dan Byers parked his pickup at the end of a dirt road and looked over some of his fertile land. A few years ago, high grain prices earned farmers here about $400 per acre for their corn and soybean crops. This year, it's possible that every acre Byers farms will cost him $50.

"It just takes a certain amount of fixed money to put a crop in and raise it," says Byers. "At today's prices, not much of anything works right now until there's a rebound."

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The Salt
3:00 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

This Spanish Pig-Slaughtering Tradition Is Rooted In Sustainability

Pig farmer Armando Escaño stands with his Iberian pigs on his farm on western Spain's dehesa. Escaño raises pigs for jamón ibérico, Spain's most prized ham.
Lauren Frayer for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:51 pm

In Spain, an age-old way of surviving the winter is getting some new attention from foodies worldwide. It's called la matanza — literally, the killing of a pig. It's an ancient ritual in danger of dying out, amid an influx of commercial abattoirs and modern supermarkets. But Spain's matanza is now getting renewed interest from farm-to-table food enthusiasts.

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The Salt
10:37 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Cowboy Cravings: Fried Cookie Dough And Other Rodeo Calorie Bombs

(Left to right) Rodeo concessions include the loaded potato; deep-fried chocolate cupcake and the Texas Tater Twister, a spiral-cut tater on a sausage, deep-fried.
(Left and Center)Robert Young/Flickr; Dave 77459/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 6:06 pm

American state fairs have gotten competitive about wowing fair-goers (and the media) with their ever more outrageous concessions.

Among the immoderate new dishes of 2014? The cheeseburger stuffed with macaroni and cheese on a Krispy Kreme bun at the California State Fair, and the deep-fried breakfast on-a-stick at the Minnesota State Fair.

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Food
4:38 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Tea Not For Two (Minutes, That Is)

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 11:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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The Salt
2:12 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis during a guest appearance on ABC's The Chew last fall. She can cook rich foods and keep her trim figure, but new research suggests that's a difficult feat for amateur cooks watching along at home.
Lou Rocco ABC/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 12:37 pm

If you've ever watched Giada de Laurentiis make gooey chocolate-hazelnut spread or a rich carbonara pasta dish, you may have wondered: How can she cook like this and maintain her slim figure?

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The Salt
4:59 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: Gift Of The Moon, Bane Of The Spanish — The Story Of Yerba Mate

A gourd of yerba mate. Legend has it that the moon gifted this infusion to the Guaraní people of South America.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 3:02 pm

In 1616, Hernando Arias de Saavedra, the governor of the Spanish province that included Buenos Aires, banned the population from drinking a green herbal drink called yerba mate.

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The Salt
1:46 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

To Eat Authentically Irish This St. Patrick's Day, Go For The Butter

Butter labels from Irish creameries operating in the 1970s.
Roland Paschhoff Cork Butter Museum

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 1:11 pm

As scholarly buzzkills have long told us, corned beef isn't really Irish. So what to do if you want a taste of the Emerald Isle on St. Patrick's Day? Instead of green, maybe look for yellow — a pat of Irish butter. Although most Americans are familiar with images of Ireland's rolling green hills, few realize that those hills are the secret to a deliciously buttery empire.

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The Salt
11:43 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Meet Chef Chane, Ethiopia's Version Of The Infamous 'Soup Nazi'

Inside Chef Chane's tiny kitchen. Every few months or years, his landlord — taking note of Chane's popularity — will raise the rent, or a conniving official will demand a bribe. Then, instead of bowing to the system, Chane will disappear and set up in a new location.
Gregory Warner/NPR

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:17 am

I didn't travel all the way to Ethiopia just to meet a character out of the sitcom Seinfeld.

But when I heard Ethiopians describe a particular popular restaurant called Chane's, I couldn't help recognize a resemblance, in its owner and lead chef, to the famously brusque soup man.

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The Salt
12:45 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Sandwich Monday: Bone-In Pork Chop Sandwich

The bone stays in, the grease goes everywhere.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 2:09 pm

There are dangerous sandwiches out there: the Wendy's Sharpened Chicken Classic, the McRib that's always sending you emails with questionable attachments. But they pale in comparison to the famous pork chop sandwich from Jim's Original in Chicago: Jim leaves the bone in.

Eva: The bone also serves as a useful sandwich handle.

Miles: Eating a bone-in sandwich is the lazy person's equivalent of free-climbing a mountain. The danger just adds to the rush.

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The Salt
11:24 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Looks Matter: A Century Of Iconic Food Packaging

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:49 pm

We take the packaging our food comes in for granted. Yet many of the boxes, bags and bottles that protect our edibles were once groundbreaking — both in their design and in how they changed our perception of what's inside. Sometimes, packaging is so distinctive, it transforms food from mere consumer product to cultural icon. As Stephen Heller, author of more than 100 books on design and popular culture, says, "Coca-Cola is not a bottle of soda — it's Coca-Cola."

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Food
6:53 am
Sun March 15, 2015

The Elixir Du Jour: Bone Broth

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 10:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
4:24 am
Sun March 15, 2015

The Fate Of The World's Chocolate Depends On This Spot In Rural England

Rows of potted cocoa plants from around the world. Before a cocoa variety from one country can be planted in another, it first makes a pit stop here, at a quarantine center in rural England.
Courtesy of Dr. Andrew J. Daymond

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:49 pm

Walk into a row of greenhouses in rural Britain, and a late English-winter day transforms to a swampy, humid tropical afternoon. You could be in Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa, which is exactly how cocoa plants like it.

"It's all right this time of year. It gets a bit hot later on in the summer," says greenhouse technician Heather Lake as she fiddles with a tray of seedlings — a platter of delicate, spindly, baby cocoa plants.

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The Salt
8:28 am
Sat March 14, 2015

Pi Day Isn't Just Magical, It's Mathematics. And There's Pie!

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 9:04 am

We bring you this story in case you want to get baking.

That's because Saturday is Pi Day — but it's not just any pi day.

It's March 14* of the year '15, or 3-14-15 — the first five digits of the number pi. It's a confluence that won't happen again for a hundred years. Math geeks are excited.

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The Salt
6:48 am
Sat March 14, 2015

The Family Peach Farm That Became A Symbol Of The Food Revolution

Mas Masumoto grew up on his family farm southeast of Fresno, Calif. His 1987 essay "Epitaph for A Peach," in which he bemoaned the loss of heirloom flavors, captured his changing philosophy as a farmer. It also helped turn his farm into a landmark in the local-food movement.
Dan Charles/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:50 pm

In the heart of California's Central Valley, a vast expanse of orchards, vineyards, and vegetable fields, lies a small collection of aging peach trees. Farmer Mas Masumoto's decision to preserve those trees, and then to write about it, became a symbol of resistance to machine-driven food production.

Yet the Masumoto farm's story isn't just one of saving peaches. It's become a father-daughter saga of claiming, abandoning, and then re-claiming a piece of America's agricultural heritage.

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