Harvest Desk

Playing sports has always been important to 31-year-old Erik Johanson, a city planner in Philadelphia. Johanson thrived in baseball and ice hockey as a kid, he says — "one of the best players on the team in high school."

Today, Johanson is married and expecting his first child but is still passionate about ice hockey — and about winning. He plays on a highly competitive team of guys who got together after college and still play weekly in an adult league; they hope to take the crown this year.

To mark this week's release of Harper Lee's long-awaited second novel, Go Set a Watchman, why not try an old-fashioned cake from Alabama, featured prominently in Lee's classic first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

In it, Scout Finch's neighbor, Maudie Atkinson, is known for her Lane cakes and guards her recipe closely. She bakes one for Aunt Alexandra when she moves in with the Finch Family. Scout gets buzzed from the whiskey in it and comments, "Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight."

Yogurt is a truly living food. The bacteria that transform milk into this thick and sour food also provide a sense of mystique.

For Atanas Valev, they carry the taste and smell of his homeland, Bulgaria. "It's just the smell of the fermented milk. It's tart, tangy tart. That's what yogurt should taste like," he says.

As Dan Charles reported on Monday, yogurt has a way of igniting passions. In his story of arson, the flames were literal.

Once you start looking, it's really not hard to find people — even entire countries — deeply attached to this nourishing and calming food.

Bee Hotels Give Native Species A Place To Call Home

Jul 14, 2015

A patchwork of bamboo and paper tubes, with diameters no bigger than a nickel, are stacked artfully inside a 4-by-4 wooden frame near the edge of a public hiking trail in Lawrence, Kan.

Organized by size, each hollow tube is about 8 inches long, designed as nests for Kansas’ wild bees. This structure is called a bee hotel.

Grow Springfield

On July 19, there's a chance to learn more about community gardens and growing in an urban setting. It's the third annual Roots to Rooftop Tour in Springfield.  5 locations will be spotlighted, including a rooftop garden at Maldaner's Restaurant.  

"Community gardens are a great way for neighbors to come together, create community and grow healthy food," said Joe Eby of Grow Springfield.

India is in the midst of a war of sorts — a war over eggs. To eat them, or not to eat them. Actually, it's more about whether the government should give free eggs to poor, malnourished children.

It all began in late May, when Shivraj Chouhan, the chief minister of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, shot down a proposal to serve eggs in government-run day care centers (anganwadis) in some tribal areas.

Heading the ball in soccer has been accused of causing most concussions. But the hazard may be more due to rough play than to one particular technique, researchers say.

The risks involved in heading — when a player uses their head to keep the ball in play — are not new. But Dawn Comstock, an injury epidemiologist at the University of Colorado's School of Public Health, wanted to know if headers are indeed the chief cause of concussions.

The idea that fermented foods — including yogurt and kefir — are good for us goes way back. But could the benefits of "good bacteria" extend beyond our guts to our brains?

Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elie Metchnikoff (also known as Ilya Ilich Mechnikov) first observed a connection between fermented milk and longevity among Bulgarian peasants more than a century ago.

It takes about four cups of milk to make one cup of skyr, Iceland's super thick, high-protein version of yogurt.

Every drop of skyr made in Iceland comes from Icelandic cattle, the country's single breed.

But there's a problem: The average Icelandic cow can't supply much milk. And the hunger for skyr is stronger than ever now that people around the world are discovering its creamy delights.

Watson, IBM's Jeopardy!-winning supercomputer, boasts a pretty impressive resume when it comes to cooking.

Two years ago, in the middle of the night, a fire broke out in a commercial building on the northern edge of the city of Dallas. It destroyed a small yogurt company called Three Happy Cows.

Two months later, Edgar Diaz, the founder of Three Happy Cows, confessed that he'd set the fire. Yet people who knew Diaz, and had worked with him, could not believe it.

"I was like, Edgar did that? No way! No way. No way," says Ruth Cruz, who worked at Three Happy Cows.

"No. No. It was his baby. Couldn't imagine," says Don Seale, who supplied milk to the factory.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: A stress-free way to make a classic — and unruly — French sauce that's a variation of hollandaise.

We're coming up on the final week of the month of Ramadan. It's the time of year when observant Muslims avoid all food and drink during the holy month's daylight hours — if they're able.

When Ramadan falls during the height of summer — as it does this year — that's a lot of hours. So what's the best thing to eat to prepare you for a long fast?

In 2009, Rue Mapp was thinking about business school, weighing the pros and cons, and wondering if it was the right choice. The former Morgan Stanley analyst turned to her mentor for advice. But rather than give her an answer, her mentor asked a question: If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?

Just like that, Mapp knew an MBA wasn't in her near future. Instead, she decided to combine everything she loved — from nature to community to technology — into an organization that would reconnect African-Americans to the outdoors.

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

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the "know where your food comes from" movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.

Fried chicken is a racially fraught food. Historically, it's been associated with racist depictions of African-Americans, and today, some still wield the fried-chicken-eating stereotype as an insult. But in some cases, the food itself has provided a path toward financial freedom for blacks.

American girls were eager to take up archery after watching Katniss Everdeen shoot off arrows left and right in The Hunger Games.

Girls and women in the Peruvian Andes are also asking to learn — but for a different reason. They want to be able to hunt for meat and fish so they don't have to rely on the men to bring home food.

Driving down a two-lane highway in rural Missouri, Matt Plenge squinted at a patch of gray clouds hanging low over his farm fields in the distance.

“Does it look hazy up there?” he asked. “We only had a 20 percent chance today. We shouldn't get any rain.”

Plenge, like most farmers, always keeps one eye on the weather. But this spring, it’s been his primary and constant concern.

There's new evidence that wild bees, some of nature's most industrious pollinators of wildflowers and crops, are getting squeezed by our planet's changing climate.

Many a book, blog and news article has been devoted to the topic of whiskey: the way it's aged, where to drink it, how to store it and serve it or pair it with food. But comparatively little attention has been paid to how whiskey is packaged.

Which is a shame, really, when you think about how a beautiful, funny or fancy-looking label can influence which bottles we buy — and which we ignore — when shopping the whiskey aisle.

If you can't picture Jared Fogle's face, you may remember his pants.

Before he lost a jaw-dropping 245 pounds, he was once an obese college student wearing blue jeans with a 60-inch waist.

A raid at the home of Subway pitchman Jared Fogle has led to both sides agreeing to suspend their relationship, and put a spotlight on Fogle's ties to the former head of a foundation he created to fight childhood obesity.

Federal and state authorities removed electronics from Fogle's home in suburban Indianapolis in a raid Tuesday, but refused to discuss the nature of the investigation. Fogle's attorney said he was cooperating, adding the Subway pitchman had not been arrested or charged with anything.

Eating healthy in this day and age is a challenge. And the pressure is on if you're a pregnant woman given that you're eating for two.

But the nausea, exhaustion and mix of unpredictable hormones – not to mention the anxiety of preparing to go through labor and becoming a parent – make balanced nutrition pretty daunting.

I recently learned about a decision to ban eggs in school lunches — the main meal of the day — in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The state's chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has vetoed a proposal to include eggs in children's school lunches in government schools. Even though eggs are an excellent source of nutrition, he said eggs would not be served because they are not a vegetarian food, and that milk and bananas would be offered instead. Like many Hindus, Chouhan is a vegetarian and reportedly vetoed eggs in school lunches because vegetarians often will not eat them.

One secret to a long life may be the simple daily ritual of tea.

We've told you how Okinawans — who are known to have more than a few centenarians among them — enjoy jasmine-infused tea.

And if you're looking to incorporate this fragrant aroma with a bit of creamy indulgence, pastry chef Naomi Gallego, of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C., has you covered.

Even if you're not counting your calories, date night at that restaurant down the street is still a more healthful choice than McDonald's, right?

Don't count on it.

Dining out at a sit-down restaurant can mean far more sodium in your diet-- and nearly as much saturated fat — as eating at a fast-food joint, according to a recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. What's more, people consumed more calories when they sat down for their meal at a full-service place rather than taking it to go, the study found.

Most aspiring chefs long for the white hat, the gleaming kitchen, the fancy menu.

But Nigeria-born Tunde Wey stumbled into a different version of the (American) chef's dream. He wanted to see the country and share the food of his West African childhood with friends and strangers along the way.

So a few months ago, he packed up his knives and his spices at his home in Detroit and started crisscrossing the U.S. by Greyhound bus.

Change typically doesn't come fast or often in the Kelabit Highlands in the interior of Malaysian Borneo. "Go slowly" is both a motto and a way of life here. For centuries, even millennia, locals have gathered and grown their own foods in the dense tropical jungle.

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