Harvest Desk

On the worst day of Greta Horner's life, she was dressed in a burlap robe, waiting by the window for her husband to come home from work.

Ralph Horner, or Ed as his family calls him, should've been pulling in the driveway any minute that morning in June 2014, home from his overnight shift as a maintenance employee at the beef plant in Greeley, Colorado. It's owned by JBS, the world's largest meatpacker, with its North American headquarters a short drive from the Horners' home.

Growing up on their family farm in West Bend, Iowa, Haley Banwart and her brother Jack were like any other farm kids. They did chores, participated in 4-H and even raised cattle together.

"My brother and I have had the same amount of responsibilities," says Banwart, 22. "I can drive a tractor, I can bale square hay. But it was just expected that my brother would return home."

Her family never really discussed it. "It was always kind of the unwritten rule," she says. "My brother would go back and farm" — and she'd find another path.

Should We Make Room For Worms On Our Dinner Plate?

23 hours ago

In southern Venezuela, the Ye'kuana people gather them from the mud around streams or dig them up from the floor of the highland forest. They're gutted and boiled and eaten — or smoked and sold at prices three times that of other smoked meats.

What is this lucrative, forageable fare?

Earthworms.

I grew up in the Philadelphia area where water ice is as iconic a summer dessert as ice cream cones and popsicles. Maybe more so.

It's a frozen treat made from water, sugar, and some sort of flavoring — usually fruit. It is firmer than a slushy, softer than sorbet, and smoother than granita. Unlike with a snow cone, the flavor is mixed in before freezing, instead of being poured over a frozen ball at the end. You might know it as Italian ice, but it bears little resemblance to the hard, frozen variety you find in supermarket freezers.

When tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted in March to having taken the heart drug meldonium, the public got a rare glimpse of a common practice that's often called "legal doping."

On a muggy morning on Kauai's south coast, ethnobotanist Diane Ragone inspects a dimpled bright green orb, the size of a cantaloupe. She deems the fruit mature, at its starchy peak. Perfect for frying or stewing.

It's hard to blame the hero of Dr. Seuss' famous Green Eggs and Ham — which turns 56 this month — for being suspicious of the title dish. The illustrated lump of green meat and two eggs with alien yolks would look off-putting to the most adventurous eaters. Yet decades after Theodor Geisel's beloved children's book was first published, chefs across the United States are tickled by the idea of putting the infamous dish on their menus.

Would you eat it with some kale? Would the thought turn diners pale?

Beef cheeks sizzle in a frying pan. Oysters float in melon puree. And culinary students from all over the world huddle in silent rapture around a stove in central London.

Food gods are in their midst.

The Roca brothers — Joan, Josep and Jordi — are the chef-proprietors of El Celler de Can Roca, a restaurant in northeast Spain that's among the top-rated in the world. To international foodies, the Rocas are rock stars of haute cuisine.

Athletes Go For Gold With Red Spots Blazing

Aug 8, 2016

Swimmer Michael Phelps won Olympic gold again Sunday while covered in red — red spots, roughly medal-size, all over his shoulders and back.

The marks were the result of an ancient Eastern medicinal therapy known as cupping that is achieving new popularity among some athletes in the United States, including numerous Olympians.

Cupping typically involves treating muscle pain and other ailments with cups that apply suction to skin. Cupping is often combined with other forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and massage.

In Japan, nearly every interest has a manga dedicated to it, whether it's sports, music or shooting pool. So it's no wonder that food, which has always been tied to Japan's cultural identity, has skyrocketed as a genre of manga, which represents about 40 percent of all books published in that country.

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

RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

For most of us, a road trip is a fun summer adventure — a time away from work, gorging yourself on gas station junk food, listening to audiobooks and your favorite songs.

But the situation is different when being on the road isn't your vacation, but actually part of your livelihood. Subsisting on fast food and sleeping at hotels isn't healthy or economical when you're doing it more often than not.

Many musicians spend their lives on the road. And the ones who want to stay healthy and keep their wallets intact have developed some tricks of the trade.

Cockroach Milk: Yes. You Read That Right

Aug 6, 2016

Pour out that almond milk — the new hip thing cockroach milk.

Well, kind of.

The female Pacific beetle cockroach is one of a kind. Unlike other insect species, this Hawaiian native gives birth to live young. And she feeds them a pale, yellow liquid "milk" from her brood sack.

But the craziest thing: Cut open an embryonic beetle roach, and they're guts will spill out nutrient-rich milk crystals that shimmer like glitter.

There was a time when people went to bars to talk to other people, maybe even meet someone new. But that was in the BC era — before cellphones.

"I've been in the pub industry for a long time, and progressively it's become less and less social and more and more antisocial," Steve Tyler, the owner of the Gin Tub in Sussex, England, tells NPR's Scott Simon.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

From Brandon Carter, Social Media Desk Intern:

"He was a New York story because he didn't have a lot and yet he gave a lot."

Milk prices are in the tank. You may not have noticed this, since prices in the supermarket have fallen only slightly. But on the farm, it's dramatic. Dairy farmers are getting about 20 percent less for their milk than they did last year; 40 percent less than when milk prices hit an all-time peak two years ago.

"We're losing money," says Dave Drennan, executive director of the Missouri Dairyman's Association. In Europe and Australia, dairy farmers have taken to the streets to protest their plight.

How Many Calories Do Olympic Athletes Need?

Aug 5, 2016

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 25, 2012.

Food, as we so often note on this blog, means a lot of different things to different people. To Olympic athletes, food is fuel for exceptional athletic performance. But there's a surprising amount of variety in just how much fuel elite athletes need.

Chickens aren't traditional pets. But with chicken coops springing up in more and more urban and suburban backyards, some owners take just as much pride in their poultry as they do in their dogs or cats — so much so that they're primping and preening them for beauty contests.

You may know mead — an ancient alcoholic beverage made from water, honey, and yeast — as a drink that's popular among Renaissance fair-goers and Game of Thrones fans.

Meadmaker Andrew Geffken is on a mission to add another group to that list: the average beer drinker. At Charm City Meadworks in Baltimore, Md. — he's experimenting with modern takes on this age-old drink.

Hans Lienesch, also known as the Ramen Rater, made a career out of reviewing instant noodles, starting in 2002. The 41-year-old used to eat two packs a day, every day — but afterwards, he got sweaty, stressed out, and felt his heart rate go up. His doctor told him he was close to having high blood pressure, so, after a thousand reviews, he decided to cut back to just one pack of instant noodles a day.

I did a little experiment the other day. I stood outside a Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C., with two cartons of large brown eggs. One carton had the words "Non-GMO Project Verified" on it, with a little orange butterfly. It also said cage-free. The other carton had a different label; a green and white circle with the words "USDA Organic." One other crucial difference: the organic carton cost 50 cents more.

I asked shoppers which carton they would buy.

We're living at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, many Americans overeat refined grains and sugar.

This may help explain why the obesity rate seems stuck. The most recent estimate is that 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese.

QUIZ: What Were Restaurants Like 100 Years Ago?

Aug 3, 2016

Restaurant dining is a mainstay for many Americans. In 2013, 58 percent of American adults reported dining out at least once per week. Restaurants are such staples of culinary culture that we tend to take their modern-day traits for granted. But they went through a lot of changes to become the delicious destinations we know today.

McDonald's is no longer serving chicken raised on antibiotics that are important to human medicine. The company made the pledge last year, and now reports that it has completed its transition to the new antibiotic policy ahead of schedule.

Hop growers are raising a glass to craft brewers. The demand for small-batch brews has helped growers boost their revenues, expand their operations, and, in some cases, save their farms.

"Without the advent of craft brewing, a few large, corporate growers would be supplying all of the hops and local, family-owned farms like ours would have gone bankrupt," says Diane Gooding, vice president of operations at Gooding Farms, a hop grower in Wilder, Idaho. "It's saved the industry."

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

A five-hour drive southwest of Madrid, I pull into a tiny town square filled with songbirds and an outsized Catholic church — where Eduardo Sousa and Diego Labourdette are waiting.

They're an odd couple. Sousa is a jovial fifth-generation Spanish farmer. Labourdette is a soft-spoken academic — an ecologist and migratory bird expert — who teaches at a university in Madrid. But they're in business together — in the foie gras business.

When agricultural extension agent Tom Barber drives the country roads of eastern Arkansas this summer, his trained eye can spot the damage: soybean leaves contorted into cup-like shapes.

He's seeing it in field after field. Similar damage is turning up in Tennessee and in the "boot-heel" region of Missouri. Tens of thousands of acres are affected.

Lisbon is a city of plazas, parks, overlooks and gardens. For more than a century, these beautiful public spaces were graced by Art Noveau and Moorish-style kiosks — small, ornate structures that provided chairs and shade and served traditional Portuguese snacks and drinks.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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