Harvest Desk

The Salt
2:26 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Chocolate Makeover: Nestle Dumps Artificial Colorings

Nestle announced that it is removing artificial flavors and colorings from all of its chocolate candy products — including the dyes used to give the inside of a Butterfinger, like this one, that orange hue.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 2:14 pm

Some of America's most popular chocolate bars — including the Baby Ruth and the Butterfinger — are about to get an ingredient makeover. Nestle USA announced it is removing artificial flavors and colorings from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of 2015.

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The Salt
3:59 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Will A Tipped-Wage Hike Kill Gratuities For New York's Waiters?

Diners fill Riverpark, a New York City restaurant, in January. Restaurateurs fear that the tipped-wage hike being proposed in New York will force them to get rid of tipping altogether.
Brad Barket Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 6:59 pm

The restaurant economy of New York City may be nearing a tipping point.

State officials are recommending a big hike in the minimum hourly wage for people who work for tips. But that idea is giving many restaurateurs indigestion in New York City, home to more than 20,000 restaurants. Some say a tipped-wage hike could upend the whole system of tipping.

And many servers say tips are the No. 1 reason they started waiting tables.

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Food
3:56 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Some Gas Stations Find New Business As Food Destinations

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 5:59 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Salt
2:49 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Heaps Of Oranges Could Rot As West Coast Dock Dispute Drags On

Oranges sit in crates at the Rancho Del Sol Organics farm in San Diego County, Calif., in 2014. A labor dispute at major West Coast ports has left millions of pounds of California oranges stranded in warehouses and on half-loaded boats.
Sam Hodgson Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 1:23 pm

California citrus growers are caught in the middle of a labor dispute between dockworkers and shipping lines that could end with millions of pounds of rotten oranges.

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The Salt
11:21 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Salty, Sweet, Sour. Is It Time To Make Fat The Sixth Taste?

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 3:24 pm

Your tongue doubtless knows the difference between a high-fat food and the low-fat alternative. Full-fat ice cream and cream cheese feel silkier and more sumptuous. Burgers made with fatty meat are typically juicer than burgers made with lean meat.

OK, so, we've long known fat gives food a desirable texture. But some scientists are now making the case that we should also think of fat as the sixth primary taste, along with sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami.

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The Salt
9:25 am
Wed February 18, 2015

How Marijuana Highjacks Your Brain To Give You The Munchies

After the pot-smoking comes the insatiable hunger. Just ask James Franco and Seth Rogen's weed-loving characters in Pineapple Express.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 11:20 am

Shortly after toking up, a lot of marijuana users find that there's one burning question on their minds: "Why am I so hungry?" Researchers have been probing different parts of the brain looking for the root cause of the marijuana munchies for years. Now, a team of neuroscientists report that they have stumbled onto a major clue buried in a cluster of neurons they thought was responsible for making you feel full.

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The Salt
3:35 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Hollywood Food Stylists Know: You Can't Film Styrofoam Cake And Eat It, Too

Food stylist Melissa McSorley demonstrates how she prepared the Cubano sandwich from the movie Chef.
Cindy Carpien NPR

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 2:13 pm

In the parking lot of a small Los Angeles studio, food stylist Melissa McSorley is re-creating the dish that saved the day for the hero of a recent film. "The Cubano sandwich ... was the heart and soul of the movie Chef," she says.

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Code Switch
3:24 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Some Thoughtful Words — And Many Unanswered Questions — After Chapel Hill

Kheira Benkreira and Hasnia Bekkadja attend a vigil for the slain Chapel Hill victims in Washington, D.C., last week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 5:49 pm

Since the killing of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., last week, a grand jury has indicted the victims' neighbor Craig Hicks for the murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

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The Salt
3:23 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Swiss Village + West Virginia + Mardi Gras Feast = Fasnacht

(Left) Sauerkraut and sausage (foreground) cook on the stove at the Hutte Restaurant. (Right) Diners Roxanne Singhisen and Nick Lockyer of Pittsburgh chat at the Hutte.
Pat Jarrett for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 6:31 pm

On Saturday evening, I found myself in a white-out blizzard, driving up steep and curvy West Virginia back roads. Normally, I would have admitted defeat and turned back. But I kept going, propelled up the mountain by thoughts of the unique Mardi Gras foods and festivities that awaited me in an improbable-seeming Swiss village at top.

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The Salt
10:32 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Fat Tuesday Nordic-Style Means Big, Sweet Buns

Semlor served at FIKA in New York City. "The interest [in semlor] is huge," says Lena Khoury, the Swedish cafe chain's director of strategy and communications.
Courtesy of FIKA

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 11:22 am

Forget the all-night boozing, the spicy jambalaya and the gaudy-colored king cake. And definitely forget the scantily clad debauchery that is Mardi Gras.

Like the setup of a Garrison Keillor joke, I'm here to tell you about Lutherans and their sweet February buns. Welcome to Fat Tuesday, Nordic-style.

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The Salt
6:03 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Pity For Penguins: They Can't Taste Their Dinner

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 11:08 am

The emperor penguin chases its prey through nearly freezing waters. Once it locates food, usually a fish or squid, it catches the animal in its powerful jaws and devours it.

But after all that work, the penguin can't actually taste the savory flavor of its meal.

Researcher Jianzhi Zhang, a molecular and genomic evolution professor at the University of Michigan, recently examined the emperor penguin's genome. But he says he couldn't find the bird's genes to taste umami, the savory flavor of meat or fish.

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The Salt
2:43 am
Mon February 16, 2015

'Party Like A President' Recalls Mixology, Mischief Inside Oval Office

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt drinks a glass of wine at a fundraising dinner in 1938. FDR fancied himself quite the skilled mixologist; many of his colleagues disagreed.
Thomas D. McAvoy The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 6:57 am

While they're often called political animals, many of America's presidents had a bit of the party animal in them, too.

So says author Brian Abrams. In his new book, Party Like a President: True Tales of Inebriation, Lechery and Mischief from the Oval Office, Abrams chronicles the drinking habits and debauchery of former presidents.

Known as the president who repealed Prohibition, Franklin D. Roosevelt fancied himself the mixologist-in-chief, Abrams says, but many of his colleagues disagreed.

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Shots - Health News
2:42 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Beyond BPA: Court Battle Reveals A Shift In Debate Over Plastic Safety

Eastman Chemical went a step beyond calling Tritan plastic BPA-free, setting off a legal challenge.
Eastman

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 3:56 pm

BPA-free isn't good enough anymore if you're trying to sell plastic sippy cups, water bottles and food containers.

The new standard may be "EA-free," which means free of not only BPA, short for bisphenol A, but also free of other chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen.

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The Salt
4:07 pm
Sun February 15, 2015

America Loves Smoothies And The Frozen Foods Industry Knows It

One of Dole Packaged Food's frozen fruit options. Over the years, frozen fruit companies have adjusted packaging to make it flashier and more colorful, and also put their products in stand-up bags, says Wall Street Journal reporter, Sarah Nassauer.
Dole.com

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 5:20 pm

Last year, frozen fruit sales in this country surpassed a billion dollars, shattering all previous records. Sales have more than doubled since 2011.

So what's behind this explosion of frozen fruit?

Sarah Nassauer, who reports on the food business for the Wall Street Journal, points to a pair of studies from the world's biggest seller of fresh fruit.

"Dole [Packaged Foods] got into this business, started selling frozen fruit in 2005," she says. "So in 2006, they did a big sort of frozen fruit usage study, and then they did another one last year in 2014."

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The Salt
7:26 am
Sun February 15, 2015

For Musician Jack White, Any Old Guacamole Just Won't Do

The recipe for guacamole in musician Jack White's concert rider is more like a guacamole salad. But chef Martin Morales says it's pretty good.
Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 1:52 pm

Jack White, formerly of the White Stripes, must really hate bananas. Because according to his concert rider, which was recently made public, he doesn't want to lay eyes on one at his concerts.

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The Salt
7:03 am
Sun February 15, 2015

Fake Food George Washington Could've Sunk His Fake Teeth Into

Stargazy Pie, a cornish dish named for the way the fish heads poke through the crust towards the sky.
Courtesy of Sandy Levins

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 12:51 pm

If you want to see what George Washington might have munched on, then Sandy Levins is your gal. All the food she whips up look scrumptious, but if you sneak a bite, you'll get a mouthful of plaster or clay.

Levins is one of a handful of frequently overlooked artisans who craft the replica meals you see in the kitchens and dining rooms of historic houses and museums. Adding faux food to a historical site can help visitors connect to the past, she tells The Salt.

"It's something everyone immediately identifies with, because everyone eats," she says.

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The Salt
6:27 am
Sun February 15, 2015

How Singapore Transformed Itself Into A Food Lover's Destination

Students sample the results of their labors in Yvonne Ruperti's pastry class at the Culinary Institute of America's Singapore branch.
Carole Zimmer

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 11:49 am

Lonely Planet named Singapore its top country destination for 2015. An island known as a little red dot on the world map, Singapore has less than 5.5 million people.

But when it comes to tourism, Singapore punches above its weight, with nearly 14 million tourists visiting the island in the first eleven months of 2014. And as a result of a long-term plan by the Singapore government, many of them come for the food.

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The Salt
6:23 am
Sat February 14, 2015

The Other Chocolate Tries For Sweet Redemption

For Valentine's Day, Helen Jo, the pastry chef at Little Bird Bistro in Portland, Ore., mixes white chocolate with crunchy cereal, spicy pepper and a pinch of salt to make a French bonbon called rocher.
Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 10:21 am

You may be among the millions of Americans who brought home a heart-shaped box of chocolates (or are planning to do so, before it's too late) for Valentine's Day.

But white chocolate, a relative newcomer to the chocolate family, seldom plays a starring role in the sampler pack. Which got us wondering why.

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The Salt
4:48 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

GMO Apples Get The Nod, But Not Much Of A Welcoming Party

Arctic Granny (right), a GMO variety created by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, got the gren light from federal regulators Friday. The apple doesn't turn brown like a conventional Granny Smith apple (left).
Okanagan Specialty Fruits

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 4:47 pm

We have good news for all of you who find browned apple slices unappetizing. It's bad news, though, if you don't like scientists fiddling with your food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given a green light to apples that have been genetically modified so that they don't turn brown when you cut them open.

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Goats and Soda
11:12 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Your Brain May Want That Bottle Of Soda Because It's Easy To Pick Up

You want that soda bottle. But it may not be because you crave soda. It might just be that you love the idea of wrapping your fingers around its enticing shape.
Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 11:41 am

Here at Goats and Soda, we can't resist a good story about goats. (See our story about how you know if your goat is happy.) The same goes for soda.

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The Salt
10:19 am
Fri February 13, 2015

How NAFTA Changed American (And Mexican) Food Forever

In 2013, the U.S. imported about 2 million tons of Coronas and Modelos, making beer Mexico's largest agricultural export to the U.S., according to a USDA report.
Scott Olson Getty Images

If you were to try and list the biggest game-changers for the American food system in the last two decades, you might note the Food Network, or the writing of Michael Pollan, or maybe even the evolution of Walmart.

But you'd probably overlook NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

And that would be a mistake, according to a lengthy report out early February from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Around the Nation
4:50 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

With Porches And Parks, A Texas Community Aims For Urban Utopia

Solar Sunflowers, an art installation, greets visitors to Mueller's commercial and retail hub off of Interstate 35. The panels power a nightly light display and return power to the grid. When the development is complete, five miles of granite trails will connect the residents to its commercial and retail hubs.
Julia Robinson for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 8:24 pm

This is the first story in a two-part report on the Mueller neighborhood for the NPR Cities Project.

In Texas, a state where cars and private property are close to a religion, there is an acclaimed master-planned community that's trying something different.

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The Salt
3:45 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Like Yelp For Labor Rights: This App Rates How Restaurants Treat Workers

Customers pick up their orders from a Shake Shack in New York City. It's one of the restaurants whose labor practices are detailed in the ROC United Diners' Guide app.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Restaurant servers are three times more likely to receive below-poverty-line pay than the rest of the U.S. workforce. Yet in a world where shoppers fret over cage-free eggs and organic vegetables, how many are also asking how much their favorite restaurant pays its staff?

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The Salt
1:35 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Gardener's Twofer: First Ketchup 'N' Fries Plant Hits U.S. Market

The plant is an early tomato grafted to a late-producing potato. The two can be harvested throughout the season.
SuperNaturals

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 5:35 pm

Love growing potatoes and tomatoes? This spring, gardeners in the U.S. (and Europe) will be able to get both tuber and fruit from a single plant.

It even has a catchy name: Ketchup 'n' Fries.

"It's like a science project," says Alice Doyle of SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables, the company that's licensing the variety for U.S. markets from the U.K. company that developed it. "It's something that is really bizarre, but it's going to be fun [for gardeners] to measure and see how it grows."

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Economy
11:19 am
Thu February 12, 2015

As Commodity Prices Plunge, Groceries May Be Next

The prices of everything from corn to sugar have fallen, too. So some economists predict lower prices at the grocery store later this year.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 1:36 pm

Anyone who has pulled up to a gas station this winter knows oil prices have fallen — down roughly 50 percent since June.

But it's not just oil. Prices for many commodities — grains, metals and other bulk products — have been plunging too.

Here are a few of the changes since many prices peaked in recent years:

- Copper is $2.59 a pound, down from $4.50 in 2011.

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The Salt
4:18 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Forget Beads: Cajun Mardi Gras Means A Grand, Drunken Chicken Chase

The annual Courir de Mardi Gras in Mamou, La., in February 2008. In the Cajun country tradition, revelers go house to house, collecting ingredients for gumbo from local families. Here, the host tosses a live chicken from a rooftop for the participants to catch — which can be tricky, considering the festivities often begin with early-morning drinking.
Carol Guzy Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 5:38 pm

Mardi Gras is about ephemera, the thrill of the chase. In New Orleans, that's cajoling a strand of special glass beads or a glittered coconut from the hands of a stranger high up on a parade float. But the moment that trinket is nabbed, the recipient might think: Now what am I going to do with this?

Cajun Mardi Gras, however, in the small towns south and west of New Orleans, raises no such question. Because what you aim to catch is very useful. And edible.

It's a squawking, flapping live chicken.

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Fitness & Nutrition
3:35 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

New Dietary Guidelines May Lighten Caution Against Cholesterol

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 5:27 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Salt
1:49 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Why Hot Chocolate Might Be More American Than Apple Pie

George Washington would probably approve of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.
Larry Crowe AP

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 11:14 am

In this frigid month of February, it may be comforting to know that hot chocolate might just be more American than apple pie.

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The Salt
4:06 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

California's Strawberry Feud Ends, But Who Will Breed New Berries?

The future of strawberry breeding at the University of California has been secured. Perhaps.

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The Salt
2:07 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here

Poultry bone broth is typically simmered for 24 hours or more. It can be consumed as a hot beverage, or incorporated into gravies, sauces or soups.
Amy Blaszyk for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 10:10 am

How did bone broth become the magic elixir du jour?

We're not sure, but in the past three months, breathless stories about its umami depth and super nutrition have ricocheted through food media. Meanwhile, restaurants like New York's Brodo, Portland's JoLa Cafe and Red Apron in Washington, D.C., have begun selling it, to much fanfare.

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