Health+Harvest

NPR Illinois Community Advisory Board 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 and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  If you'd like to support this initiative, please contact Nice Bogdanovich at 217-206-9847.

In a fitness-crazed land of spin classes and CrossFit gyms, Octavia Zahrt found it can be tough to feel as though you're doing enough. "When I was in school in London, I felt really good about my activity. Then I moved to Stanford, and everyone around me seems to be so active and going to the gym every day," she says. "In the San Francisco Bay Area, it's like 75 percent of people walk around here wearing exercise clothes all day, every day, all the time, and just looking really fit."

Cyndy Sims Parr / Flickr

The Land of Lincoln is the country's largest de facto nuclear waste dump.

Chipotle saw its stock dip Tuesday after it temporarily closed a Sterling, Va., restaurant where several people reported getting sick.

"That is an especially sensitive issue for Chipotle, which struggled with recurring problems with foodborne illness two years ago that caused its stock price to plummet," NPR's Yuki Noguchi told our Newscast unit. "Investors showed signs of nervousness again today, with the stock losing, at one point, more than 7.5 percent in value."

In an essay on Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf observed, "Of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness."

To that double-edged and astute assessment, one can add, she is also the most difficult to catch in the act of tea-time.

This observation might seem irksomely contrarian to the legions of Janeites in hats and bonnets gathered around tea and scones to pay fealty to the novelist on the bicentenary of her death, which falls today.

Benjamin Wolfe sticks his nose into a Ziploc bag and takes a whiff. "Ooh! That's actually kind of nice," he says. Inside the bag is a pungent, beige goop. It's a sourdough starter — a slurry of water, flour, yeasts and bacteria — from which loaves of delicious bread are born. And it's those microbes that have the attention of Wolfe, a microbiologist at Tufts University.

When my editors asked me to report on forest bathing, I packed a swimsuit. I assumed it must involve a dip in the water.

It turns out, my interpretation was too literal.

I met certified Forest Therapy guide Melanie Choukas-Bradley and several other women who'd come along for the adventure at the footbridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island, a dense jungle of an urban forest along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

The theory behind artificial sweeteners is simple: If you use them instead of sugar, you get the joy of sweet-tasting beverages and foods without the downer of extra calories, potential weight gain and related health issues.

In practice, it's not so simple, as a review of the scientific evidence on non-nutritive sweeteners published Monday shows.

Coffee — it's something many can't start the day without. In Italy, it is a cultural mainstay, and the country is perhaps the beverage's spiritual home.

After all, Italy gave us the lingo — espresso, cappuccino, latte — and its coffee culture is filled with rituals and mysterious rules.

Caffé Greco is Rome's oldest café. Founded in 1760, it's also the second oldest in all of Italy, after Florian in Venice.

In Sonoma Valley about an hour north of San Francisco, there are many reminders of the immigrants who built California's wine industry: tasting rooms that look like Italian villas or signs bearing French names. But you won't see any vestiges of the group that made up an estimated 80 percent of the workforce that first put Sonoma vineyards on the map: the Chinese.

Dadisi Olutosin grew up in Atlanta. His mother is "a southern belle," he says, "and growing up in her household, I was exposed to a lot of very, very good food," he says. She cooked classic southern American dishes like collard greens (which he made for us in this video).

Editor's note: This story is for mature bees only.

Seducing a honeybee drone – one of the males in a colony whose only job is to mate with the queen – is not too difficult. They don't have stingers, so you just pick one up. Apply a little pressure to the abdomen and the drone gets randy, blood rushing to his endophallus, bringing him to climax.

"They're really accommodating," says Susan Cobey, a honeybee breeder on Whidbey Island, Wash. "One ejaculate is about 1 microliter, and it takes 10 microliters to artificially inseminate a queen."

Growing up, Youa Yang did not envision himself taking over his family's business. His parents were Hmong refugees from Laos who arrived in Fresno, Calif., in the late 1980s and settled down to become farmers. He went to college for economics and mathematics and found himself knee-deep in the finance industry immediately after graduating.

The frozen fish sticks you'll find in a Prague supermarket may be short on one key ingredient: fish.

And that's not because the Czech Republic is landlocked.

Japan has the world's highest number of people age 65 and older. And a growing number of elderly people there are dying in accidental choking deaths. For the past 10 years, according to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the vast majority of those deaths have been senior citizens.

There's no shortage of myths about Henry David Thoreau, even in this American literary superhero's hometown of Concord, Mass. In fact, my informal poll of locals reveals that it's the rare person who knows what the 19th-century naturalist grew at Walden Pond, let alone how he survived.

Apparently, even as the town celebrates Thoreau's bicentennial birthday bash, the truth about his diet is as elusive as any celebrity's.

We'll give it to you straight: If President Trump slaps a tariff on steel, the U.S. bourbon industry might be left reeling.

Trump has long vowed to impose tariffs on some imports, and his administration has recently focused on the steel industry. A blanket tariff on steel wouldn't just hurt China, the frequent target of Trump's trademark trade tirades. It would also deal a blow to allies such as Germany.

This spring was strange in Oregon's Lane County.

"It rained every day. I'm exaggerating, but only by two days," says farmer Jason Hunton.

When Mother Nature rears her ugly head, Hunton watches his fields. He farms both organic and conventional land in Junction City, Ore.

"We're struggling. We've got a couple of [organic] fields that have some real thistle problems. I want to get some tarps and solarize it — cover it up and see if we can get that to cook itself in some of the thicker areas," Hunton says.

In the epicurean world, Northern California is famous for two intoxicants — wine and weed. With recreational marijuana about to be legal in the Golden State, some cannabis entrepreneurs are looking to the wine industry as a model.

On the elegant terrace of a winery overlooking the vineyard-covered hills of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, a dozen invited guests are sipping pinot noir, nibbling hors d'oeuvres and taking hits off a water pipe.

Could I summon the resolve to eat a grasshopper?

That was the question.

It's certainly a good idea to think about eating insects. Food specialists would like people around the world to think about eating insects — an excellent source of protein.

Not everyone is a fan of the idea, for the obvious reasons.

But in northeastern Nigeria, deep-fried grasshoppers, spiced with powdered chili, are a local favorite.

Ado Garba told me that he loves eating grasshoppers. I could tell, admiringly, that he is a hopper connoisseur.

A federal judge has ruled Utah's ban on secretly filming farm and slaughterhouse operations is unconstitutional, striking down what critics call an "ag-gag" law that Utah enacted in 2012.

The ban violates the First Amendment's free-speech protections, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby said.

Shelby rejected the state's defense of the law, saying Utah had failed to show the ban was intended to ensure the safety of animals and farm workers from disease or injury.

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The governor of Maine has signed a food sovereignty bill. It essentially tells state regulators to keep their mitts off and let municipalities regulate food production or not. Maine Public Radio's Jennifer Mitchell has more.

A recently discovered photograph that some believe shows Amelia Earhart alive and well on an atoll in the Marshall Islands has exhumed the never really buried mystery about the pioneering aviator's disappearance after her Lockheed Electra vanished in the South Pacific on July 2, 1937.

There's a fight brewing over who can fish for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, and for how long. And it's serious politics.

Recreational anglers pushed the Trump administration to intervene after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration set the shortest recreational snapper season on record – just three days in June. The result was a deal between the Commerce Department and Gulf states to extend the season.

Alina Selyukh grew up in Samara, a city in southeastern Russia. One of her favorite childhood desserts is oreshki, a walnut-shaped cookie with a rich, sweet filling of highly concentrated condensed milk. Sometimes, nuts are also thrown in.

Two weeks ago, in a remarkable move, the State Plant Board of Arkansas voted to ban the sale and use of a weedkiller called dicamba. It took that action after a wave of complaints about dicamba drifting into neighboring fields and damaging other crops, especially soybeans.

That ban is still waiting to go into force. It requires approval from a committee of the state legislature, which will meet on Friday.

Thin-skinned. Temperamental. In need of constant care and attention.

Laura Shapiro's new book, succinctly titled What She Ate, explores the lives of six very different women through the intimate and sensuous optic of food.

Too Convenient? A Mobile Supermarket That Comes To You

Jul 5, 2017

Browse the science fiction aisles and you can find all sorts of dystopian future visions — environmental catastrophes, robot overlords, zombie swarms, triffids. Oddly enough, one of the spookiest scenarios ever conjured comes from a kids' movie.

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