Harvest Desk

C'mon, who doesn't like bugs in a bag? Crunchy little critters that are good and good for you? Panitan Tongsiri is hoping the answer is: no one.

The 29-year-old Thai entrepreneur is trying to change the way Thais eat insects — OK, the way some Thais eat insects — one bag at a time.

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In space, all they have is instant.

"For an instant coffee, it's an excellent instant coffee," says Vickie Kloeris, who manages the space station's food supply for NASA. Astronauts are allotted up to three freeze-dried cups (pouches, actually) a day, and Kloeris says it's "extremely popular."

But, she adds, "Can it compete with brewed espresso? No."

The state of California is asking a basic question right now that people often fight over: What's a fair way to divide up something that's scarce and valuable? That "something," in this case, is water.

There's a lot at stake, including your very own nuts, fruits and vegetables, because most of the water that's up for grabs in California goes to farmers. This year, some farmers will get water, and others will not, simply based on when their land was first irrigated.

Perhaps it takes a hacker to lure a hacker.

And Alan Adler, 76, is the ultimate hacker. A serial inventor based in Silicon Valley, Adler has 40 patents to his name. But among coffee aficionados, it's an incredibly simple device that's earned him accolades: the AeroPress.

People have been drinking tea for so long that its origin story is rooted in mythology: More than 4,700 years ago, one popular version of the story goes, a legendary Chinese emperor and cultural hero named Shennong (his name means "divine farmer") discovered how to make a tea infusion when a wind blew leaves from a nearby bush into the water he was boiling.

By the 4th century B.C., as Jamie Shallock writes in his book Tea, the beverage had become part of everyday life in China — though in a very different form than we might recognize today.

This piece comes from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.

When President Obama announced in late 2014 that he would work toward ending the embargo on trade with Cuba, it wasn’t just tourists perking up their ears. Midwest farmers and ranchers see communist Cuba as an untapped market for goods from the American Heartland.

One of those farmers is Paul Combs, a rice farmer from southeast Missouri. Cuba can be an important market for farmers like Combs, who already depend on exporting their products.

Odds are your employer has a wellness program that prods you to exercise and eat healthy. But that program may not be doing all that much for your health, according to the American Heart Association, and attempts to measure the benefits of wellness programs often fail.

In the week after Easter, we had a lot of old Peeps lying around. No one seemed that interested in eating them, so we used them to measure the speed of light.

Every springtime in the lovely Alsace region of France, people stand in blossoming pear orchards, sliding glass bottles over tender young pears. The workers fasten the bottles securely to nearby branches, and then wait a few months for each tiny pear to grow and ripen in its own little glass greenhouse.

Sandwich Monday: Breakfast In A Tin

Apr 13, 2015

[Sandwich Monday note: Gillian is our resident British Person.]

Americans often look upon British food as bland and stodgy, so for this week's Sandwich Monday, I decided to prove everyone wrong with my offer of Hunger Breaks All Day Breakfast: a can of baked beans, sausage, bacon and "egg nuggets." After a trip across the Atlantic, we blitzed our meal in the microwave, then poured it back into the can for the complete experience. A cup of strong tea and drizzle are optional.

California is parched. Wells are running dry. Vegetable fields have been left fallow and lawns are dying. There must be some villain behind all this, right?

Of course there is. In fact, have your pick. As a public service, The Salt is bringing you several of the leading candidates. They have been nominated by widely respected national publications and interest groups.

There's just one problem: Not all of these shady characters live up to their nefarious job description. Let us explain.

1. Almonds

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When English journalist Graham Holliday got tired of his office job in the U.K., he knew he wanted a change — a big one.

So he packed up and moved to Asia, first to Korea to teach English and ultimately, to the place that would be his home for nine years: Vietnam. As soon as he arrived, he was determined to immerse himself in Vietnamese culture — and for him, that meant food.

Want to live to be 100? It's tempting to think that with enough omega-3s, kale and blueberries, you could eat your way there.

But one of the key takeaways from a new book on how to eat and live like "the world's healthiest people" is that longevity is not just about food.

Copyright 2015 KERA Unlimited. To see more, visit http://www.kera.org/.

Transcript

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

Just across the border from Nogales, Ariz., rows of northbound trucks line up for inspection. Over half of the produce that's grown in Mexico and imported — $4 billion worth — comes through this border crossing. Most gets distributed to all parts of the U.S. and Canada, but some fruits and vegetables get rejected before they leave the city of Nogales.

Last week, Amanda Hess at Slate laid out the evolution of a situation truly distressing to our food-loving hearts: Over the past couple of years, it seems, the purple, elongated eggplant found on the emoji keyboard on smartphones "has risen to become America's dominant phallic fruit."

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: We consume a lot more sugar than is good for our health. Because of this, the next generation of Americans will struggle with obesity and diabetes more than any other. The most obvious culprit is the added sugar in sodas and other sugary beverages, like sports drinks or teas.

A nationwide recall has been announced for some 30,000 cases of hummus made by the Sabra company, due to possible contamination. The FDA says the recall is voluntary and no illnesses have been reported.

The recall covers several products with a "best by" date of May 11 or May 15 (see details below). The products are predominantly the "Classic" variety of the hummus, in a range of sizes.

The FDA says anyone who has bought the packages should either dispose of them or take them back to retailers for a refund.

Would you be willing to hand over your health information to a life insurance company, in exchange for financial rewards?

Activity trackers have become increasingly popular over the past few years, tracking everything from how many steps you walk to your location throughout the day.

In a tiny Northern California town called Vina, there's a winery that's definitely off the beaten track. That might be because this region's better known for olive groves and cattle ranches than grapes. For these, vintners, though, it's spiritual work.

This month, the Navajo Nation did something that no other tribe has successfully done and only Berkeley, Calif., has passed something similar: taxing junk food and soda.

It is an attempt by Navajo leaders to trim obesity rates that are almost three times the national average. But half of the tribe is unemployed and say they can't afford more expensive food.

McDonald's has been struggling in recent years to keep pace with fast-casual chains like Five Guys and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

So the fast-food giant is testing different menu options to lure back customers. Starting later this month, McDonald's diners will be able to choose a $4.99 sandwich — the Sirloin Third Pound burger.

John Hancock announced a new program promising discounts for policyholders who wear a fitness tracker, exercise more and go to the doctor. The life insurance company says that if people live longer healthier lives, everybody wins. But privacy advocates worry about all the electronic monitoring.

Here's how popular craft brewed beer is these days: On average, a new brewery opens its doors every single day in the the U.S.

Coffee and tea both landed in the British isles in the 1600s. In fact, java even got a head start of about a decade. And yet, a century later, tea was well on its way to becoming a daily habit for millions of Britons — which it remains to this day.

So how did tea emerge as Britain's hot beverage of choice?

When Gov. Jerry Brown announced the largest mandatory water restrictions in California history April 1 while standing in a snowless field in the Sierra Nevada, he gave hardly a mention to farms.

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