Harvest Desk

Making farmers markets more accessible to Americans in food deserts can boost the number of low-income customers who regularly shop there, and may even offer more promise for improving diets than bringing in traditional grocers. That's according to researchers who looked at what happened when the farmers market in Flint, Mich. — much of which qualifies as a food desert — moved downtown.

Last year was a terrible season for the American pistachio industry. Warm temperatures and the lack of water resulted in a loss of almost half the crop, and profits were down by around $1.4 billion from 2014. This year, the industry is hoping to recover, but growers across the country may face a different issue: competition stemming from the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

When Rachel Mollen strolls into the cafe at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh with her 5-year-old son, she knows exactly the kind of food they will eat.

"Will, he's the youngest of four, and he wanted to do something special today," Mollen says. "I was trying to think of some place that we could go for lunch and have a healthy lunch and do something fun."

It's often a split-second decision.

You're in the produce aisle, and those organic apples on display look nice. You like the idea of organic — but they're a few bucks extra. Ditto for the organic milk and meat. Do you splurge? Or do you ask yourself: What am I really getting from organic?

Pizza Added To Meals-Ready-To-Eat Menu

Feb 18, 2016
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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

When I was growing up, there was no question of what I wanted for dinner. I wanted glorified "American" food: hamburgers, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese. I dreamed of coming home from school to find my mom pulling a pot roast from the oven, not setting the table with chopsticks and bowls of rice.

It wasn't until I left home for college that I began to miss my mother's cooking and decided to re-create some of her dishes. After a few mishaps and a cupboard full of burnt pans, I decided to look to the Internet for guidance, discovering the wonderful world of food blogs.

He loves Argentinian empanadas and dulce de leche. In 2015, he said that if he had only one wish, it would be to travel unrecognized to a pizzeria and have a slice — or two or three. In other words, he may be protected by the world's smallest army and be responsible for the spiritual governance of 1.2 billion people, but when it comes to eating, Pope Francis loves comfort food as much as the next person.

Dr. Seth Ammerman listens intently to his new, 21-year-old patient. Ernesto, who does not want his last name disclosed, is homeless. He is earning a high school degree and working part time, but at night, he and his brother share a tent that they set up on the streets of San Jose, Calif. The daily stress of being homeless is wearing Ernesto out, and making him light up too many cigarettes.

"I just want to cut down on my smoking," says Ernesto, in a tentative, soft voice. "I've been on the streets all the time, you know? I just want to make sure I'm OK."

Korean food is built on bold flavors: spicy pickled vegetables, sweet, smoky meats and pungent, salty stews. That can be a little intimidating for some American diners. But the authors of a new book called Koreatown hope to change that.

Last week, opposition lawmakers in Venezuela declared a "food emergency." That's because Venezuela is facing widespread shortages of milk, meat, bread and other staples. Critics blame the government's socialist economic policies. But instead of changing course, President Nicolás Maduro is calling on Venezuelans to help feed themselves — by starting urban gardens.

A program used in many U.S. fisheries to protect the marine environment and maintain healthy fish populations may have an immensely important added benefit: preserving the lives of American fishermen.

Hunger is not the only reason we eat sweets.

Often we eat as a way to celebrate, or sometimes we reach for food when we're sad or bored.

And a study published this month in the journal Environment and Behavior points to another factor that can nudge us to eat: clutter.

In Western culture, it's tradition to wish others a happy New Year. For the Lunar New Year, celebrated this past week, many people with roots in Southeast Asia have another tradition: a dish called Yusheng, which in English translates to "Prosperity Toss" — and which will probably end up on the floor.

This colorful dish, which can also be interpreted as "an increase in abundance," or simply "good luck," comprises raw fish, herbs, spices and fresh and pickled fruits and vegetables. And it is prepared for the specific purpose of throwing up in the air.

As an African-American, John Boyd Jr. might not be what Americans imagine when they think of a typical farmer. But Boyd has been farming his entire life, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him. He grows wheat, corn and soybeans and has cattle at his southwestern Virginia farm.

Florida's avocados, papayas, tomatoes, mangoes, peaches, passionfruit and peppers are safe — along with more than 400 other fruits and vegetables.

They'd all been threatened by the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that infested farmlands in Miami-Dade County last fall.

As of Saturday, the state has declared the insect eliminated.

If you work in a restaurant, marriage proposals are good for business. Happy couples lift the mood in the entire dining room and often turn into lifelong customers. That once-in-a-lifetime experience for them is pretty routine for restaurateurs.

Chipotle Mexican Grill certainly is not the first company to face lawsuits and subpoenas because its food made people sick. Other companies, in fact, have faced far worse: Companies like Blue Bell, Dole and Earthbound Farms have been linked to disease outbreaks that actually killed people.

But it's difficult to think of another case in which a company's food-safety troubles provoked such schadenfreude in the food industry. The company, it seems, made a lot of enemies while marketing its "food with integrity."

If you follow the vast world of fermented grapes, you may have noticed an influx of so-called natural wines. I fell under their spell a few years ago. Apparently, I'm not alone. There's something of a natural wine cult blooming in shops, bars and restaurants around the U.S.

Deep in the heart of the arcane laws that give farmers a helping hand, there's something called "crop insurance." It's a huge program, costing taxpayers anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion each year.

It's called an insurance program, and it looks like insurance. Farmers buy policies from private companies and pay premiums (which are cheap because of government subsidies) to insure themselves against crop failures and falling prices. It's mainly used by corn, soybean, cotton and wheat farmers. Defenders of the program call it a safety net.

For the Midwesterner who likes to eat local, this time of year is a challenge. Browse the produce shelves in middle America — or any place where snow falls in winter — and you'll find carrots from Mexico and peppers from Peru.

It took Sen. Ted Cruz to finally persuade me to answer a riddle that's bothered me for years. Suppose somebody yanked away the law that currently props up the nation's ethanol industry, as Cruz has proposed. What would actually happen?

It's a Saturday night. Five couples sit sipping cocktails and beers. From the kitchen, the smell of ginger, fish oil and lime wafts into the dining room. Chef Josh Haynes is there preparing one of his signature recipes: a red curry of pumpkin and pork rib.

It could be a hip restaurant, except this is Haynes' apartment. In his small living room, with space for only two tables, 10 strangers eat his homemade Thai food.

As the world celebrates one hundred years of dadaism, it is worth looking at how this "anti-art" art movement that started in a café in Zurich during World War I resulted in an iconic artwork involving that most humble object of tableware: the teacup.

In 1936, a 23-year-old Swiss artist named Meret Oppenheim bought a teacup, saucer and spoon from a department store in Paris and wrapped them in the cream-and-tan pelt of a Chinese gazelle. Her hirsute little offering became a defining artifact of surrealism — the art movement that sprang from dadaism's flamboyant entrails.

The Gulf of Mexico is now open for commercial fish farming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last month that, for the first time in the U.S., companies can apply to set up fish farms in federal waters.

The idea is to compete with hard-to-regulate foreign imports. But opening the Gulf to aquaculture won't be cheap, and it could pose environmental problems.

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Out for dinner with a group of friends, Christina Dierkes, a science writer with Ohio Sea Grant in Columbus, was feeling adventurous. It took some steely courage to order the Caribbean Roll at Mr. Sushi's. Not so much for the tuna and avocado on the inside — that's a combination that's appealing to many of us. But the tuna sushi in this spectacularly Americanized roll is topped with a deep-fried banana, honey, mayonnaise and a generous dash of coconut crumbs. Yum?

On the southwestern tip of the Korean Peninsula, laid out across ferry-filled harbors and rolling hillsides, is a vibrant port city called Mokpo.

Famous for its Japanese colonial architecture and for being the jumping-off point to scenic islands like Heuksan and Jeju— the "Hawaii of Korea" — Mokpo is also known for its fishing industry and its local seafood delicacy: hongeo.

At The Marine Room in La Jolla, Calif., the ocean and the pounding surf are always on the menu. The 75-year-old restaurant is located right on the beach, and during winter's high tides, waves will break right on the windows.

Hundreds of diners experienced the exciting — and slightly unnerving — view this weekend during High Tide Breakfast at the restaurant.

"It is just awesome," the restaurant's executive chef Bernard Guillas tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

There was a time when it felt like Keurig coffee pods were going to take over the world — or at least encircle it.

But now sales are on the decline, down some $60 million from last year.

The company has faced criticism because the individual coffee pods are not kind to the environment. But Venessa Wong with BuzzFeed says that's not the only factor that's contributed to the decline in sales.

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