Harvest Desk

If you pictured a dancer, you probably wouldn't imagine someone with Parkinson's disease. Worldwide, there are 10 million people with the progressive movement disorder, and they struggle with stiff limbs, tremors and poor balance.

Editor's note: A version of this post first appeared in January 2015.

Many people will see the snow currently blanketing much of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard as a nuisance coating sidewalks and roads. Others are celebrating it as an excuse to spend the day swooshing down a hill.

As for me, I like to think of snow as food.

For many immigrants, coming to America is full of the unfamiliar — from the language to the food. In Philadelphia, a program aims to help these arrivals settle into their new country by folding English lessons into a cooking class.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 20 recent immigrants and refugees to the United States streamed into a shiny commercial-size kitchen on the fourth floor of the Free Library of Philadelphia's central branch. They were here to partake in the library's take on teaching English as a second language.

As researchers have searched for ways to explain the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S., many have posited that a child's race or ethnicity alone can put them at greater risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Kim Eagle, a professor of internal medicine and health management and policy at the University of Michigan, was skeptical of this thinking. His hunch was that poverty was a much more important part of the equation.

If you're a chili head, you may have more in common with Hillary Clinton than you knew.

The presidential hopeful has a serious jalapeño habit. She told All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro it started back in 1992, when it was her husband, Bill Clinton, who was running for the White House.

Danny Bowien, the founder of the Mission Chinese Food restaurants, didn't grow up cooking Chinese cuisine. Born in South Korea, then adopted by a family in Oklahoma, Bowien was already an adult living in San Francisco when he decided to learn how to cook Sichuanese fare, known for its bold, pungent, spicy flavors.

Pete Wells has a job that most people can only dream of. As restaurant critic for The New York Times, he gets paid to eat out four or five nights a week — often at quite pricey places — on someone else's dime.

But for Wells, going out for drinks and delectable meals is still work. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies that coming up with words to describe flavors is something he "wrestles with all the time."

For years, Americans cycled through one brand-name diet after another, each promising a sure method to lose weight. Along the way, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine made fortunes off their low-calorie, low-fat diet programs and products.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has voted in support of a compromise plan that will preserve key school nutrition standards enacted after the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010.

Yep, that's the law that requires schools to serve up more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It also paved the way for major reductions in salt.

Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson showed up at the French Parliament Tuesday to speak out for animal rights. A French congresswoman is trying to put an end to what critics call a cruel practice to animals. It also happens to be central to one of France's most cherished culinary delicacies: foie gras.

Anderson said she was following the example of Brigitte Bardot, another sex-symbol-turned-animal-rights-activist. As a young girl, Anderson said, she was inspired when Bardot visited Canada in the '70s to condemn the slaughter-by-clubbing of baby seals.

Editor's note: It's National Popcorn Day! We're celebrating by bringing back this tale, first published in 2014, about the history of the beloved snack.

With the historic nuclear deal finally taking effect, a sanctions-free Iran can now get back to doing what it has excelled at for centuries: trade.

Because of Iran's strategic position on the Silk Road, that ancient highway that snaked from China to Europe, the caravans of tea, spice and silk passing through it also carried a weightless but imperishable cargo to foreign shores: Persian culture.

In California's Nevada County, an unusual explorer with an unusual name — Amigo Bob Cantisano — hunts for remnants of the Gold Rush, just not the kind you might expect.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Separation of church and state? When it comes to fighting food waste, the U.S. government is looking to partner up with the faithful.

There's a new deli in rural Maine with a hotshot chef behind the counter. Foodies may know Matthew Secich's name from stints and stars earned at Charlie Trotter's, The Oval Room in Washington, D.C., and The Alpenhof Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Recently, Secich joined an Amish community and moved his family and his kitchen off the grid.

His new spot, Charcuterie, is a converted cabin tucked away in a pine forest in Unity, Maine, population 2,000. You have to drive down a long, snowy track to get there, and you can smell the smokehouse before you can see it.

From McDonald's to Costco, Big Food has been declaring a shift to buying only cage-free eggs.

The time is ripe for the sharing economy in farm country.

Money is a big motivator. And the prospect of a cash payoff in any sort of gamble is alluring — just think of the Powerball buzz this week.

So, what happens when financial incentives are tied to weight-loss goals? A growing body of evidence suggests that it's not necessarily a slam dunk.

Eating healthfully in America is hard. We have to contend with constant sugary and oily temptations, while pervasive ads coax us to eat these items day in and out.

The public health community generally agrees that regulations and taxes could help remind us of the potential health toll of the unhealthiest items — like beverages high in sugar — and keep us from consuming too much of them.

In Fort Morgan, Colo., 150 Muslim workers were fired in late 2015 after a dispute over prayer breaks at a Cargill beef processing plant.

In the kitchen of a small eatery in Reyhanli, Turkey, Abu Mohammed took a break from deboning the flank of a freshly slaughtered lamb to opine on grave matters happening just across the border in Syria.

"This is what should be done to the Islamic State," he says, jabbing and swiping the air with his knife as if he were eviscerating one of the extremist fighters.

Having illustrated his disdain for ISIS, Mohammed laid down the knife on his butcher's block and resumed tearing each rib away from the meat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's first stab at offering nutrition advice came in 1894, when W. O. Atwater, a chemist and pioneering nutrition investigator for the agency, published this warning in a Farmer's Bulletin:

"Unless care is exercised in selecting food, a diet may result which is one-sided or badly balanced. ... The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear..."

The U.S. may be on the verge of a boom in new fertilizer plants, which could be good news for farmers, but not the environment.

Every year some 2 million Americans get infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 of them die from these superbugs.

Superbugs are mostly a hospital problem: They're where these pathogens are often born and spread, and where the infected come for help. But hospitals are not where the majority of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used.

The bananas you find in the average U.S. grocery store are pretty much the same: They're the genetic variety known as Cavendish.

In the market in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, though, you have choices.

Keeping honeybees healthy has become a challenge for beekeepers. One main reason is a threat that has been wiping out bees since the late 1980s: the varroa mite.

"It's a parasitic mite that feeds on the blood of adult bees and on the brood. It also transmits virus, and it suppresses the immune system of the bees," explains Penn State honeybee expert Maryann Frazier.

Lower-back pain is very democratic in the people it strikes.

"It's a universal experience. You'd be a really uncommon person never to have had an episode of back pain," says Chris Maher, a physical therapist turned health researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia. "It's a common problem across the whole of the globe," he says, whether it's North America, sub-Saharan Africa or rural India.

The fight over genetically modified food, or GMOs, has long resembled battles on the Western Front in World War I. Pro-GMO and anti-GMO forces have aimed plenty of heavy artillery at each other, but neither well-entrenched side has given much ground.

TV is usually a place where the beautiful people shine. But last night, it was time for the uglies to step into the spotlight — ugly fruits and vegetables, that is.

Evan Lutz of Hungry Harvest, an organization that's trying to turn uglies into a business, appeared on ABC's Shark Tank show Friday night. He wanted to sway the show's deep-pocketed gurus to pour their money into Hungry Harvest's model.

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