Harvest Desk

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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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.

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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.

On the fringes of the cheese world, a quest for non-dairy cheese that tastes like the real thing has been underway for years.

Products made mostly of soy protein or coagulated palm oil, often heavily processed and artificially flavored, have dominated the (very) narrow vegan cheese section of the supermarket. But these products have long underwhelmed the palate with their thin flavor and reluctance to melt on a hot pizza.

Breakfast is Bryan Voltaggio's favorite meal because it's the only time he gets to eat with his family. Most other times, the Top Chef and Top Chef Masters finalist is at one of his restaurants. That's why the recipes in his new book, Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends, are centered on family and family gatherings, from Thanksgiving to Super Bowl Sunday.

Sandwich Monday: Pizza-Flavored Energy Paste

Apr 6, 2015

Traditionally, the liquified foods marathoners choke down in the middle of a race have been limited to some pretty basic flavors: lemon-lime gel, vanilla goo, chocolate mystery substance.

No more! Clif has introduced pizza-flavored energy paste.

We tried it while competing together in an ultramarathon this weekend (this entire sentence is a lie).

Ian: It's like an IV bag for someone suffering from too much happiness.

Wondering what to do with all those painted eggs, or the ones you never managed to paint for Easter? We're here to help.

Inspired by Portlandia's "Put a Bird on It" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," we went in search of ways to be more assertive with eggs.

Pesticide-free? Nurtured with organic fertilizer? No antibiotics?

Ask any shopper, and you're bound to find mixed answers for what an organic label means.

Now, an association is trying to draw funding from something called a "checkoff" to pay for consumer advertising and research. For a checkoff to work, each farmer pays a small amount. For example, a penny-per-bushel of wheat or a dollar per cow would generate millions of dollars in pooled funding that could pay for splashy ad campaigns.

Ah, 2007: the year in which we met the first-ever iPhone, a presidential candidate called Barack Obama ... and an inscrutable ad man named Don Draper.

Wal-Mart made its name by going big: massive super centers with gallon jars of pickles and rows and rows of lawn chairs and tires.

Its future may depend a lot on going small. It's investing in smaller stores in densely populated urban neighborhoods, where customers buy fewer items at a time.

Customers like Donna Thomas, who walked over to a Wal-Mart near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on her lunch break from her job as an executive assistant at Comcast.

If you're trying to feed some of the lumberjack hipsters of Brooklyn, you might try serving up some Huevos Machismos. And if you're seeking the next cleanse trend, look no further than the Ultimate Gushy Protein Sewage Blast. Like any balanced smoothie, it incorporates one ounce of "pure, uncut cocaine (for the boost)."

These are the recipes and advice you'd receive from the Mizretti brothers, two fictional restaurateurs who just published an "encyclofoodia" and cookbook called FUDS.

This Easter, you can toast the Bunny with the newest jelly bean flavor from industry giant Jelly Belly: champagne. (Don't get your hopes up — the champagne bean is alcohol-free.)

Will Smart Clothing Amp Up Your Workout?

Apr 3, 2015

When Eric Blue goes to the gym, he sports a wafer-thin shirt that tracks his every move.

Blue's shirt contains tiny sensors woven into the fabric. They monitor his heart rate, the calories he burns and other metrics, like breathing rate. A companion app on his smartphone informs him about the intensity of his workouts.

Blue, a Los Angeles entrepreneur, says regular use of the shirt has pushed him to "up his game" during exercise.

Nothing says Passover like a good bowl of matzo ball soup. That's according to Joan Nathan, chef and grande-dame of Jewish cooking, who spoke to Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition about the importance of the tradition.

The Jewish holiday of Passover celebrates the Biblical story of the Exodus, or the freeing of Hebrew slaves from Egypt.

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