Harvest Desk

It's fall. Time to pick apples. For some of us, that's casual recreation, a leisurely stroll through picturesque orchards.

For tens of thousands of people, though, it's a paycheck. They drive hundreds of miles for the apple harvest in central Washington, western Michigan, the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate New York, and Adams County, Pa.

"The truth is, every apple that you see in the supermarket is picked by hand," says Philip Baugher, who runs a fruit tree nursery in Adams County.

Employers have long known that one way to employees' hearts is through their stomachs.

In America's fine-dining restaurants, how much workers get paid is closely correlated to the color of their skin.

Christine Ha made quite an entrance on season three of the Fox television show Master Chef.

If you've bought a bottle of nice wine recently, you'll know that the costs have gone up. And the price of really fine wines – the ones that cost at least several hundred dollars – have doubled, tripled and more over the past few years.

As prices rise, so, too, do the number of thefts.

Prima restaurant in Walnut Grove, Calif., has a celebrated wine list, with a number of Bordeauxs and Burgundies that can set you back several thousand dollars. Thieves have successfully targeted those wines several times now.

All week, Harvest Public Media’s series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

Anheuser-Busch, the company behind both Budweiser and Beck's, has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim the megabrewer misled customers by trumping up Beck's German roots and insinuating that it was an imported beer.

Now, for more than 100 years, Beck's has been brewed in Germany. But in 2002, the company was bought up by big international brewers, eventually becoming part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Belgium.

The parade of fast-food companies promising to sell meat from animals that never received antibiotics just got significantly longer. Subway, the ubiquitous sandwich chain, is following the lead of Chipotle, Panera, Chick-fil-A and McDonalds, with its promise Tuesday that its meat suppliers gradually will go antibiotic-free.

More and more schools are trying to serve meals with food that was grown nearby. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just released some statistics documenting the trend.

An airport — crowded, smoggy and rife with security concerns — seems like an unlikely locale for a farm.

But JetBlue was intent on growing potatoes and other produce at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. It took three years of jumping through hoops before the T5 Farm, named for its location outside Terminal 5, came to fruition in early October, the company says.

When it comes to feats of speed and strength, Homo sapiens is a pretty pitiful species. The list of animals that can outsprint us is embarrassing. There's the cheetah, of course, but also horses, ostriches, greyhounds, grizzly bears, kangaroos, wild boars, even some house cats.

If you've consumed coconut oil or coconut meat lately, there's a reasonable chance it was imported from Thailand. And if it was, there's an even better chance the farmer who grew that coconut had a monkey fetch it from a tall tree.

All week, Harvest Public Media’s series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet. Drive down a dirt road, a two-lane country highway, even many Interstates in the Midwest and the view out the window is likely to get monotonous: massive fields filled with acres of corn sprawled in all directions.

Flu season is here. And when the flu strikes, the luckier victims may call in sick without getting punished or losing pay.

But many American workers, including those who handle our food, aren't so fortunate.

She liked it so much, she bought the company.

Oprah Winfrey will acquire a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers International for $43.2 million and take a seat on its executive board, the company announced today. She will also receive options to buy an additional 5 percent stake.

Thomas Jefferson is known as a founding father and a founding foodie. Less well-known is the remarkable man who once fed his refined palate: James Hemings.

In the 18th century, Hemings was one of America's most accomplished chefs. He was also Jefferson's slave.

"It was a close relationship, a master-slave relationship, but different," says renowned Jefferson historian Annette Gordon-Reed, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.

So if I say Aunt Jemima, you think what? Fluffy pancakes and waffles?

For sure.

Loving hospitality?


But for some, the title, the image, even the updated version sans headwrap, evokes other feelings, including anger, over a racial stereotype of a black woman with no apparent life of her own. One who is happiest in the kitchen getting ready to serve her white folks.

Well, just who were the real Aunt Jemimas, the real black cooks and chefs whose craft and skill did so much to define American cuisine?

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

Under plans in development, farmers could generate environmental credits by farming in ways that store carbon, filter out water pollution, or preserve wildlife habitat. Those credits could be bought, sold, and traded by companies that need to balance out their own emissions or pollution.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three items.

From Digital Editor Avie Schneider:

Americans have a big appetite for everything meat. We smoke it, grill it, slice it, and chop it. The typical American puts away around 200 pounds of beef, pork, and poultry every year.

It was 2 p.m. at the Code Switch desk and conversation turned, as it often does in post-post-lunch stupor, to snacks. Who had some? Who needed some? Why does the NPR cafeteria close so early? (It's called, are you ready for this, Sound Bites.) Doesn't anyone have a Toblerone stashed in a drawer?

Mark Noltner, who lives in suburban Chicago, heard about McTeacher's Nights when he found a flier in his daughter's backpack last year.

"There was a picture of Ronald McDonald [on the flier]," he says, and it was promoting the school fundraiser at a local McDonald's.

During McTeacher's Nights, teachers stand behind the counter at McDonald's, serving up food to their students who come in. At the end of the event, the school gets a cut of the night's sales.

Nowadays consumers are more willing to pay extra for a rack of ribs if it's produced nearby. A local bone-in ribeye, on average, costs about $1 more than a conventional steak. A pound of local sliced bacon has a $2 upcharge, according to retail reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What are we paying for when we pay more for local meat? Lots of things. But small producers say one key issue that's holding them back, and driving up costs, is the strict rules when it comes to how they slaughter their animals.

From floating old food in Jell-O molds to casseroles to cold pizza, the way we reuse and eat leftovers in America is special.

And it turns out that if you track our relationship with leftovers over time, you will understand a lot about our economy and how we live.

Tens of thousands of Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for problems caused by dietary supplements, federal health officials are reporting.

The complications include heart problems such as irregular or rapid heartbeat or chest pain, says Dr. Andrew Geller of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In mid-November, diners at the New York restaurants Gramercy Tavern and The Modern may notice something new on their menus: higher prices, across the board.

Why You Might Want To Be Drinking Beet Juice At The Gym

Oct 14, 2015

The iconic cartoon character Popeye became most famous for his slapstick routine of eating a can of spinach, then attaining superpowers that he often used to give his gigantic nemesis Bluto a severe pummeling.

But Bluto might be lucky that Popeye never got his hands on a glass of beet juice.

If you're in the habit of drinking wine with dinner, there may be a bonus beyond the enjoyment of sipping a glass at night.

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine adds to the evidence that drinking a moderate amount of wine can be good for your health.

The evidence comes from a new two-year-long study on people with diabetes.

Earlier this month, Wal-Mart trumpeted that it had beaten a goal it set five years ago: to open at least 275 stores in food deserts by 2016. That targeted expansion into "neighborhoods without access to fresh affordable groceries" came as part of the retailer's "healthier food initiative," lauded by — and launched with — First Lady Michelle Obama in 2011.

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