Here in the news biz, we rely on thumbnail descriptions, sparing you the details. We'll tell you, for instance, that organic farmers aren't allowed to use synthetic pesticides and factory-made fertilizer.
In general, that's true. But there's also a long list of pesky exceptions to the rule. And this week, a battle erupted over those exceptions: the synthetic or factory-made substances that organic farmers are still allowed to use because the farmers say they couldn't survive without them.
It's Friday afternoon, when we finally get a chance to muse on hamster burrito videos and on our evolving notions of what to feed our animals.
Some people whip up feasts of liver and hamburger for Fido. Some throw some celery leaves into Tweety bird's cage or peel a carrot for the bunny. But we've never seen anyone go to the lengths this man does for his hamster.
Saturday marks the 140th Run for the Roses: the Kentucky Derby. Great horses, great hats β but where's the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon for the mint juleps?
Last October, more than 200 bottles of the prized spirit were stolen right out of the distillery in Frankfort, Ky. The county sheriff believes it was an inside job, and a $10,000 reward remains on offer.
Each Peach Market in Washington, D.C., is a far cry from the Trader Joe's where I usually shop. For one thing, it's tiny β smaller than the apartment I share with two others. And there are no lines snaking through aisles and aisles of tempting goods.
You'll find the usual staples here, and also artisanal pickles, locally grown and cured charcuterie, and yogurt from Pennsylvania's Amish country. But don't expect much selection β there are just two brands of olive oil, rather than the several shelves to choose from at Harris Teeter.
It's not every fruit that gets its own international symposium.
Then again, the jackfruit is not your typical fruit. It's got a distinctive, musky smell, and a flavor that some describe as like Juicy Fruit gum.
It is the largest tree fruit in the world, capable of reaching 100 pounds. And it grows on the branches β and the trunks β of trees that can reach 30, 40, 50 feet. (Trunk-growing is a good thing because it reduces the odds of a jackfruit bopping you on the head.)
For centuries, hard apple cider has been made with the fermented juice of apples β nothing more, nothing less. And a lot of cider drinkers and makers β let's call them purists β like it that way.
But a new wave of renegade cider makers in America is shirking tradition and adding unusual ingredients to the fermentation tank β from chocolate and tropical fruit juices to herbs, chili peppers and unusual yeasts. Their aim β which is controversial among the purists β is to bring out the best, or just the weirdest, flavors in the ciders.
Finally, the weather is warming up. And that means I'm dreaming about ice cream sundaes.
When I was researching my book Ice Cream: A Global History, sundaes were the ice cream treat I was most eager to learn about. For me, there's no more sumptuous dessert than the classic American combo of ice cream, toppings and whipped cream.
Manuel Antonio Tejarino used to be a lean, fit field hand. During the sugar cane harvest, he'd swing a machete for hours, hacking at the thick, towering stalks.
Now Tejarino is slumped in a faded, cloth deck chair outside his sister's house on the outskirts of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.
Tejarino's kidneys are failing. He's grown gaunt. His arms droop by his side. In the tropical midday heat, he alternates between wiping sweat off his brow and pulling a sweatshirt up over his bare chest.
Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:55 am
If we mention the northwestern Turkish city of Edirne, tucked up near the borders with Greece and Bulgaria, you may think, "Oh brother, not another story about olive oil wrestling."
Yes, it's true that each summer for the last 650 or so years Edirne has hosted the Kirkpinar Olive Oil Wrestling Festival, in which half-naked men slathered in fragrant oil grapple in the grass. It's activity that's even recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Event.
As FoodCorps service member Ashley Turk navigates her way through a brand-new greenhouse in the courtyard at Waukon High School in the northeast corner of Iowa, she points to a robust supply of red and green lettuce leaves growing neatly in rows.
βItβs huge,β she says. βWe cut it off and it just keeps growing.β
The greenhouse lettuce is among the offerings in the schoolβs salad bar. And students will soon be growing carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables, Turks says.
Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 2:35 pm
Poutine, if you don't know, is a Canadian dish made up of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. And if you don't know, you really haven't been living your life to its fullest. Seriously, what have you been doing? Go get some poutine. Then come back and read about this poutine burger β an open-face hamburger topped with poutine β we ate from Spritzburger in Chicago. We'll wait. We have to. We can't move.
Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 11:43 am
If you're a teenage athlete, or the parent of one, you probably live in fear of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, one of the knee's key stabilizing ligaments.
A torn ACL often requires surgical repair. But so-called neuromuscular training programs can cut the risk of a serious ACL injury and should be recommended to at-risk young athletes, especially girls, according to a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For the past month, in part of eastern Kansas, the prairie has been burning, as it does almost every spring. On some days, you could look toward the horizon in any direction and see pillars of smoke. The plumes of pollution have traveled so far that they've violated limits for particulates or ozone in cities as far away as Lincoln, Neb.
But here's the twist: Environmentalists have come to celebrate those fires.
West Africa hasn't competed with the likes of Paris or Barcelona as a culinary destination, but a handful of food lovers there are making inroads to change that.
Visitors to Ghana can now sample the work of mixologists who specialize in liquors made with local ingredients. In Bamako, Mali, vinophiles can head to the annual Beaujolais Nouveau wine festival. And in Dakar, Senegal, there's Trio Toque.
There was a time when rum was considered rotgut. Blackbeard the pirate liked to mix his cane alcohol with gunpowder and light it β rum and croak.
Fast-forward a few centuries to rum respectability β specifically, to Rob Burr's patio deck in Coral Gables, in South Florida.
From the waterfall pond to the tiki bar, Burr's deck sets a mood not for swilling rum, but for tasting it. Not the way spring-breakers chug Captain Morgan, but the way cognac drinkers sip Napoleon: Not with Coke (or gunpowder) but neat, in a snifter.
It's easy to find goat milk and goat cheese in Vermont. Goat meat, not so much.
That's frustrating for the refugees, immigrants and others who've settled in the state who are accustomed to eating fresh goat meat. Though it's not so common in the U.S., it's a mainstay in many African, Asian and Caribbean diets.
But there's a movement afoot to meet the demand for goat meat throughout New England.
In the opening pages of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca, the narrator lays out a feast for the imagination: "Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread." Of course, the reader can't actually see these treats β and that's where graphic designer Dinah Fried comes in.
Originally published on Sat April 26, 2014 8:54 am
True fig lovers are well-practiced in the art of patience. We watch the calendar, dreaming of summer and the fruit's silky, sappy flesh. The season lasts through June and July, with another crop from August to October. And then we're back to almost eight months of oranges, apples and, if we must, Fig Newtons.
Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 12:46 pm
The Green Mountain State is poised to become the first to require food companies to label products containing genetically modified ingredients.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tweeted he will sign a bill state lawmakers passed Wednesday mandating that foods with GMOs be labeled as having been produced with "genetic engineering." The bill would also make it illegal for foods with GMOs to be labeled "all natural" or "natural."
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Today, we want to talk about food and security. Many people around the world just finished celebrating the major holidays Easter and Passover. They probably had big family and even communitywide feasts. But that reminded us that according to the United Nations, nearly and eighth of the world's population suffers from chronic hunger.
President Obama kicked off the first leg of his tour of Asia on Wednesday with some sushi diplomacy.
He dined with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a revered and tiny temple of sushi in Tokyo called Sukiyabashi Jiro. The subterranean restaurant, with just 10 seats at the counter, was made famous by the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.