Harvest Desk

Walking through the warehouse of food processor Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb., shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour, and the smell of fresh-baked apple-cinnamon muffins floats in the air.

Heartland Gourmet makes a wide range of foods — from muffins and organic baking mixes to pizzas and burritos. That means business manager Mark Zink has to answer to both of the main U.S. food safety regulators, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

If pushing a cart up and down the lengthy aisles of your neighborhood supermarket — past dozens of brands of packaged cereal and crackers lit by fluorescent lights — feels overwhelming and soul-sucking, you're not alone.

But there's some good news: The days of shopping this way may be numbered.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in April 2014.

Why is this Sandwich Monday different from all other Sandwich Mondays? In honor of Passover, I introduced my non-Jewish colleagues to the wonders of the Passover lunch.

First off, I need to be upfront: I have a treadmill desk. I got it about two years ago, prompted by all the studies showing the dangers of sitting all day. The idea is to get people more active and walking while working. The problem is, I don't use it. In fact, I probably only used it for a few months. I still stand all day, but I'm not walking.

Maybe you've seen them in the gym, or even squeezed into them yourself: super-tight T-shirts, leggings, knee and calf sleeves, even tube tops. More and more athletes are wearing compression garments, hoping they will improve their performance and recovery.

But do they work? This is a question Abigail Stickford, a postdoctoral researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, wanted to answer.

There's a new bar in New York City devoted to the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage in America. But don't expect a list heavy on craft beer or bourbon.

Wassail is a cider bar.

"You can see the color, very deep," says Ben Sandler, co-owner of the bar and restaurant on Manhattan's Lower East Side. He's filling my glass with a delicious amber liquid from E.Z. Orchards in Salem, Ore. "You can see it's kind of cloudy, so it's not filtered. Really dry."

In spring, West Bank almond trees bloom white. Dry brown hills turn temporarily green and are dotted with bright wildflowers. The ewes and nanny goats of Bedouin herders that wander the West Bank eat well this time of year.

It's cheese season.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos might conjure a lot of descriptors: spicy, crunchy, unnaturally fiery red. But it's a good bet that "healthy" didn't exactly spring to mind.

Can you spend your way out of an historic drought? Not really, but the consensus in Sacramento these days seems to be that money certainly helps.

Just days after it was introduced, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed his sweeping $1.1 billion emergency drought relief bill today.

Log onto Yelp, and you'll find what all your neighbors have to say about your favorite restaurant. You'll find prices, locations, menus, photos, even parking tips.

And if you're in the right city, you'll also find the restaurant's health inspection score.

"What we're trying to do ... is reduce foodborne illness [by] warning consumers when they're in the middle of making a decision," Luther Lowe, Yelp's director of public policy, tells The Salt.

Some of the seafood that winds up in American grocery stores, in restaurants, even in cat food may have been caught by Burmese slaves. That's the conclusion of a yearlong investigation by The Associated Press.

The AP discovered and interviewed dozens of men being held against their will on Benjina, a remote Indonesian island, which serves as the base for a trawler fleet that fishes in the area.

Remember that old movie trope, in which the mousy girl who never gets noticed takes off her eyeglasses and — voila! — suddenly, everyone can see she was beautiful all along?

Well, a similar sort of scenario is starting to play out in the world of produce in the U.S. (minus the sexist subtext).

Colorado is famous for its beer and its beef. But what about its farm drones?

My father usually starts off his curries by roasting a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, anise, cumin and bay leaves. Then he incorporates the onions, garlic and ginger — and then tomatoes and chilies and a touch of cream.

The North Indian cuisine I grew up eating is about melding together distinct, disparate flavors and building up layer upon layer of spice and seasoning. Much of European cuisine, by contrast, is about combining complementary flavors — think potatoes with leeks, or scallops with white wine.

Heinz and Kraft.

When we hear those names we think ketchup and Velveeta, right?

But before they were products and companies that will merge to become a giant with $28 billion in revenue, Heinz and Kraft were men.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's been a lot of buzz around the story that some inexpensive California wines, including a Charles Shaw (aka two-buck Chuck) white Zinfandel sold at Trader Joe's, have been found to contain traces of arsenic.

A planet that is warming at extraordinary speed may require extraordinary new food crops. The latest great agricultural hope is beans that can thrive in temperatures that cripple most conventional beans. They're now growing in test plots of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or CIAT, in Colombia.

FDA

Organic spinach sold exclusively at Target stores because of possible Listeria contamination. 

Simply Balanced Organic Chopped Spinach 10-oz steam in bag is  being recalled by California based  Superior foods.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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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