Health+Harvest

NPR Illinois Campus & Community Council identified the subject of food and health as important subjects for coverage in 2012.  Health+Harvest provides for community engagement on health and food issues along with reporting on farm, field and fuel.  From seed to plate, from farmer's markets to GMOs, central Illinoisans need to know how to stay healthy and what they are eating.  In 2013, NPR Illinois joined a consortium of public media in the Harvest Public Media network.  The network provides broader coverage to Midwest food issues.

By examining these local, regional and national issues and their implications with in-depth and unbiased reporting, Health+Harvest fills a critical information void.

Support for Health+Harvest coverage comes from Central Illinois Farm Bureaus, GenHKids, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  If you'd like to support this initiative, please contact Nick Reynolds at 217-206-9847.

Easter is associated with currant-studded hot-cross buns and chocolatey eggs – foods that symbolize rebirth and renewal. But what about Judas cake? Or Judas beer? Or Judas bread?

Judas Iscariot, the archvillain of Christianity who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, has an intriguing range of food and drink named after him – some traditionally consumed in the days leading up to Easter.

Real quick, here's a list of ingredients you're unlikely to find in your next Burger King Whopper:

  • Chocolate candy
  • Toenail clippings
  • Cyanide
  • Rat
  • Medium-sized child

Just a couple of decades ago, there might have been an ashtray on your restaurant table, while bartenders with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths poured your cocktails. However, the rise of smoke-free bars and restaurants across the U.S. means that most diners no longer have the scent or taste of tobacco mingling with their grilled salmon or crème brûlée — and many would say that's a good thing. Besides being unhealthy, smoking also appears to mess with taste perception.

On a sunny morning in Guadalupe Victoria, near the Guatemalan border in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, Hilda Pastor is washing corn in her backyard sink to make tortillas. It's a daily ritual that starts the night before.

"I mix dried kernels, water and a spoonful of cal" - that's calcium hydroxide or slaked lime, "and it soaks overnight," says Pastor, a 48-year-old mother of three.

Blink while driving on Highway 34, east of Greeley, Colo., and you might miss the former town of Dearfield.

All that's left of the once-thriving town on Colorado's eastern plains are a rundown gas station, a partially collapsed lunch counter and a former lodge. They are the only indication that there was once a community here. The grass around these buildings is crispy and straw-colored, whipped back and forth by relentless winds. The snowcapped Rocky Mountains barely peek through the haze to the west.

Pesticides based on fungi are just one example of biopesticides, a group that also includes bacteria and biochemicals derived from plants.

Biopesticides are a tiny segment of the market for now – but their use is projected to grow at a faster rate than traditional synthetic pesticides over the next few years.

The growth of the organic produce industry is one factor giving biopesticides a boost. So, too, are regulatory hurdles, says Sara Olson, a senior analyst at Lux Research.

KevinDooley/flickr

There are plenty of scary climate change predictions about what could be coming our way in the future.  So what is a person to do?  Move to Michigan.  

It's a cliché that happens to be true: Bears love honey. And in Maryland, lawmakers have passed a bill making it legal to shoot a black bear if it threatens a beekeeper's hive.

In February, state Del. Mike McKay testified before the Environment and Transportation Committee on behalf of the bill. He wore a vest festooned with the image of Winnie the Pooh.

With a taste of just a single dish from a Jewish family's table at Passover, Joan Nathan can tell a global story.

The Jewish cooking legend, who has nearly a dozen books to her name, has documented the worldwide reach of Jewish food for her latest, King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.

The D.C. brewery Right Proper was like a cultural mullet during a recent visit: a posh baby shower in the front (complete with chocolate petit fours), a bunch of metal heads making beer in the back. Right Proper's head brewer, Nathan Zeender, was dumping a heaping spoonful of hop extract into a tank.

Be it Easter or Eid, holidays in the Levantine region of the Middle East are incomplete without a shortbread cookie called maamoul. Stuffed with date paste or chopped walnuts or pistachios, and dusted with powdered sugar, these buttery cookies are the perfect reward after a month of fasting during Ramadan or Lent.

The dough is made with wheat flour or semolina (or a combination of the two), then pressed into special molds, traditionally carved in wood. And the fillings are fragrant with rosewater or orange blossom.

When New Mexico state Sen. Michael Padilla was a child, he says he mopped the cafeteria floors to earn his school lunch, and he befriended the cafeteria workers so he wouldn't have to go hungry.

"I grew up in foster homes, multiple foster homes," the Democratic lawmaker tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "It's very obvious who the poor kids are in the school."

He says students in circumstances like his often have to watch as other children get served a hot lunch, while they are given a piece of bread — with "maybe a little bit of cheese."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

To get you to buy a bottle of champagne, M. Cole Chilton, the face who was always behind the counter of my neighborhood wine store in Brooklyn, would send out emails with elaborate descriptions: "I taste like sunshine, and I tell of brighter days ahead. I will make you forget that three people cheated on you last year. I will make you forget that you didn't contribute anything to your 401(k). I will make you forget that dog sitting is not as easy as it sounds."

During Passover, many Jews avoid leavened baked goods to commemorate the hasty exodus from Egypt ­­­– which means farewell to pancakes, waffles and biscuits.

So what's for breakfast during those eight long days? Matzo brei.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Kinky Cakes: Inside The World Of Adult Bakeries

Apr 8, 2017

In the early 1980s, Niki Novak's sister bit into a cake shaped like a man's, um, member. It was disgusting. It wasn't the idea of the cake she found distasteful, mind you, but its actual flavor.

When Novak heard about the incident from her sister, she wondered: Why couldn't you make risqué cakes that tasted good, too?

A new study raises a novel idea about what might trigger celiac disease, a condition that makes patients unable to tolerate foods containing gluten.

The study suggests that a common virus may be to blame.

For people with celiac disease, gluten can wreak havoc on their digestive systems. Their immune systems mistake gluten as a dangerous substance.

Anais Martinez is on the hunt in Mexico City's Merced Market, a sprawling covered bazaar brimming with delicacies. "So this is the deep-fried tamale!" she says with delight, as if she'd just found a fine mushroom specimen deep in a forest.

The prized tamales are wrapped in corn husks and piled next to a bubbling cauldron of oil.

The Montmorency tart cherry is pretty much the only sour cherry grown in the U.S. And cherry growers in Michigan know the tree really well. It was brought here from France a couple of hundred years ago. "This is older than most people think of as heirloom varieties and it's our main variety to this day," says Jim Nugent, a cherry grower in northern Michigan.

Venezuela is in the midst of a war — a bread war. That's according to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Amid a severe economic crisis, his government is dealing with widespread food shortages. Now, even bread is hard to find.

In a recent speech, Maduro accused bakers of waging a "bread war against the Venezuelan people."

The meat on an adult human's bones could feed another person for over two weeks, or maybe a whole Stone Age tribe for a couple of days, according to a new report on the practice of Paleolithic cannibalism. No wonder, then, that evidence of cannibalism in ancient humans pops up in the archaeological record from time to time.

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. declared war on Germany and formally entered World War I. By late June, American infantry troops began arriving in Europe. One thing they couldn't do without? Coffee.

"Coffee was as important as beef and bread," a high-ranking Army official concluded after the war. A postwar review of the military's coffee supply concurred, stating that it "restored courage and strength" and "kept up the morale."

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Mario Alberto Maciel Tinajero looks like a fairly healthy 68-year-old. He has a few extra pounds on his chest but he's relatively fit. Yet he's suffered for the last 20 years from what he calls a "terrible" condition: diabetes.

"I've never gotten used to this disease," he says. Maciel runs a stall in the Lagunilla market in downtown Mexico City. This market is famous for its custom-made quinceañera dresses and hand-tailored suits.

Investor Warren Buffett is the new face of Cherry Coke, at least in China.

The billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is fond of the beverage — photos from shareholder meetings show him sipping on the soda year after year. He's also a major investor: Berkshire Hathaway is the biggest shareholder in Coca-Cola.

It doesn't take more than a few episodes of the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch to get the idea that commercial fishing can be a career path rife with risk, making it one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S.

The investment firm that owns Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee and other enterprises, is purchasing the Panera Bread Co. for $315 per share in cash — a premium of roughly 30 percent over its recent average trading price.

The deal with JAB Holding Co. is valued at around $7.5 billion, Panera said Wednesday.

If the transaction is finalized in the third quarter of 2017 as planned, Panera would be privately held.

Philadelphia created a buzz last summer when its city council voted to impose a tax on sweetened drinks.

Three cities followed suit with similar measures. But the beverage industry has been fighting back.

On Wednesday, a panel of judges in a Pennsylvania appeals court is expected to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by the beverage industry against the city.

There was a lot of buzz when Philadelphia passed a soda tax, and there's early evidence it's led to its intended aim of reducing sugary drink consumption. But further expansion of the pre-K programs the tax is intended to fund is in limbo. That's because the American Beverage Association and local businesses are suing to to abolish the tax. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for April 5. The case could end up in the state's Supreme Court.

Dear dogs of America — sorry about bone broth. Since this well-marketed take on an ancient beverage started sweeping hip enclaves like New York, Austin and Los Angeles a few years ago, it's getting harder to find cheap bones. Unlike many food fads, bone broth seems to be here for the long simmer. As more people switch to sipping, there are fewer bones to go around.

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