Harvest Desk

Mike Berners-Lee may not be an expert on the American Thanksgiving. A native of the UK, he’s never actually had the pleasure of experiencing one. But as one of the world’s leading researchers on the carbon footprint of—well—everything (he even wrote a book subtitled “The Carbon Footprint of Everything”), he’s plenty familiar with the impacts of the foods that star in the traditional Thanksgiving Day spread.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Changes in the environment can affect what is available for us to eat. My colleague Steve Inskeep spoke with Allison Aubrey about a little-noticed factor in our food supply that affects what will be available for Thanksgiving dinner.

There's an oil painting on one wall in the cluttered room that serves as central headquarters of Burch Farms, a large vegetable grower in Faison, N.C. The painting shows an African-American couple, the woman in a long, plain dress, the man in a homespun shirt. They're digging sweet potatoes with their bare hands and an old-fashioned hoe.

Remember that health class you had in middle school? Where you found out all that stuff about your body? We wondered why there wasn't a class like that for middle age. Could someone tell us what happens to us as we move through the decades?

Morning Edition asked listeners to send their questions about women's bodies and aging as part of our ongoing series Changing Lives of Women. We heard from hundreds of you asking about everything from sleeplessness to STDs to sex in old age.

If you are turkey-averse, turkeyphobic or just bored with the bird, fear not. We've got some other main dish ideas for you.

"What I think is cool is to put a center roast on the table that comes from the woods itself: something wild, something home-hunted, like venison," Amy Thielen, Minnesotan and author of The New Midwestern Table, tells All Things Considered's Ari Shapiro. Deer, says Thielen, is "one of those secret underground proteins in the American meat-eating story."

It's time to stop dancing around the issue. Thanksgiving food is trash. Sitting down to a standard Thanksgiving meal means negotiating between dry and bland or lukewarm and sticky. But it doesn't have to be. If there's one thing we learned the first time around, it's that Thanksgiving is all about "borrowing" from others.

Remember the headlines a few weeks back, when the World Health Organization categorized red and processed meats as cancer-causing?

Turns out, the techniques you use to prepare your meat seem to play into this risk.

Every day of the year is a good time to experiment with new recipes. Except, arguably, one.

Thanksgiving is when Grandpa's grease-spattered gravy recipe is pulled from the file and your mother-in-law makes the sweet, sticky pecan pie her grandchildren expect. The sweet potatoes are boiled and peeled for their annual bath of maple syrup, nuts and, yes, marshmallows.

Some erstwhile creative home cooks and food professionals are just like everyone else at the Thanksgiving table.

It's common wisdom that families should avoid talking about politics around the Thanksgiving table.

But if you're reading this, you might be in an NPR family. And coming up on election year — with polls and gaffes every day — won't it be hard to talk about Car Talk the whole night?

So we turned to Miss Manners, aka writer Judith Martin, to ensure our etiquette's up-to-date this holiday season.

For Martin, the age-old rule, "don't talk politics," still stands.

When the idea to write a Nordic cookbook landed on Magnus Nilsson's desk, he was against it. He says it was offensive that someone would think all of Nordic cuisine could fit, let alone belong, in one book.

"The Nordic is a geographical region, not really a cultural region," says the author, who's also head chef at the Michelin-starred Faviken restaurant, 400 miles north of Stockholm. "It's too big, and too varied." (It includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and several groups of autonomous islands.)

He eventually came around.

For those who like to try new recipes at Thanksgiving, let Clay Dunn and Zach Patton be your guides. They're the couple behind the food blog, The Bitten Word, and every year before the holiday, they scan 10 leading food magazines to identify recipe trends.

Enter a Getty Center gallery in Los Angeles, and you'll be greeted by a nine-foot long sculpture of the Greek sorceress Circe transforming Odysseus's men into swine.

What's most remarkable about this piece is that every inch of it – from the ornamental balustrade to the fine pink, yellow and white sands in the miniature garden — is made of sugar.

A new trade deal aimed at cutting thousands of taxes and opening markets with 11 Pacific Rim nations has drawn heavy lobbying from some of America’s largest agribusinesses.

The deal – known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership – was reached in early October. It is designed to ease the flow of goods between partner nations by lowering restrictive trade policies and regulations.

Editor's note: For more years than we can remember, the Friday before Thanksgiving has meant that NPR's Susan Stamberg would try to sneak a notorious and, yes, weird family recipe into NPR's coverage. And 2015 is no exception. Here's Susan.

Like Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving is a time for coming together with loved ones – only the focus is on friends.

The Friendsgiving dinner – usually a potluck affair with plenty of booze — has taken off in recent years, especially among millennials. (Thank the gang from television's Friends for helping to popularize the concept.)

Whether it's in the hands of animated polar bears or Santa Claus, there's one thing you'll find in nearly all ads for Coca-Cola: the emblematic glass bottle.

Most Americans don't drink soda out of the glass bottles seen in Coke's ads anymore. But this week, the company is celebrating a century of the bottle that's been sold in more than 200 countries.

A kind of salmon that's been genetically modified so that it grows faster may be on the way to a supermarket near you. The Food and Drug Administration approved the fish on Thursday — a decision that environmental and food-safety groups are vowing to fight.

A YouTuber named James Wright Chanel has been all over the Internet praising Patti LaBelle's sweet potato pies; a video he uploaded of himself bursting into song upon tasting the singer and cookbook author's name-brand concoction has been viewed over 2 million times.

Days after announcing that America's Test Kitchen co-founder Chris Kimball had left the company over a contract dispute, the enterprise's parent company says Kimball will continue to host America's Test Kitchen Radio, which is also a podcast.

Editor's note: A version of this story originally ran in November 2014.

The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. And for those of us who already feel short on time during a regular week, the pressure is on to figure out just how to squeeze in all that extra shopping, prep work and cooking ahead of the holiday.

The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is generally celebrated with a bounty of food — and a mountain of leftovers, some of which, let's face it, will end up in the trash.

You're at the grocery store, shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. You've grabbed sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cans of pumpkin. If you're from the Midwest like I am, you're also gearing up for green bean casserole.

But when you approach a refrigerated section of the store piled high with turkeys, you're suddenly inundated with labels: natural, fresh, no hormones, young, premium and so on. Pretty soon, your head is spinning, so you grab the nearest one. As you head to the checkout line, you wonder if you've just made an ethical choice or been duped.



In The Fields, A Search For Monarch Butterflies

Nov 18, 2015

The population of monarch butterflies has declined so dramatically in recent years that the iconic insect is being considered for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list. In Nebraska and across the other areas of the Midwest, a stop on the monarch migration route, efforts are underway to determine the scope of the decline.

Earlier this year, singer and cookbook author Patti LaBelle teamed up with Wal-Mart to make a sweet potato pie.

It costs $3.48, it's got her face on the box, and sales were just OK when it came out in September.

But today, it's a scarcity. The pies have sold out in many Wal-Mart stores and are going for up to $40 on eBay. (We found this Craigslist listing selling slices for $10 each in Washington, D.C.)

In a change that's sure to send ripples through a media empire built on a thoughtful and rigorous approach to food, chef Chris Kimball is leaving America's Test Kitchen, the company he co-founded. Kimball's departure comes two months after the company got its first-ever CEO.

"Kimball's departure is immediate," says the Boston Common Press, the parent company of America's Test Kitchen, which says the two sides weren't able to agree over Kimball's contract. Kimball, 64, is also leaving his spot as the editor-in-chief of Cook's Illustrated magazine.

Grocers know this: Cheap turkeys will get customers into the store.

So this Thanksgiving, despite an avian flu that killed 8 million turkeys, shoppers are having no trouble finding bargain birds priced lower than last year.

In fact, store managers have been slicing all sorts of holiday-related food prices this fall.

When you're trying to persuade investors to pour money into your new seafood startup, maybe don't use the term maggots.

If you have a daily coffee habit, here's something to buzz about: A new study finds those cups of joe may help boost longevity.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For women who are pregnant and practice yoga, there's conflicting advice about safety. A new study tries to clarify that. NPR's Allison Aubrey reports.

San Antonio is one of the country's emerging tech hubs. It's also home to a rich culinary scene. Now city officials are trying to bring both communities together through a program called Break Fast and Launch.

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