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.

Federal employees aren't the only ones feeling the heat in Week 2 of the government shutdown.

D.C. bars and restaurants are also getting nervous about just how long their customers will be out on furlough — and how that might dent their bottom line. While attendance at local happy hours was up in the past week, according to some reports, there are serious concerns about whether that can last with so many government workers sent home.

Lawmaker Calls For Labels On GMO Food

Oct 7, 2013

A state senator from Peoria is calling for the labeling of any food available for retail sale in Illinois that's been produced with genetically engineered organisms.  
Democratic Sen. David Koehler says consumers have a right to know if the food they're putting into their bodies was made with so-called GMOs. He is proposing legislation requiring the labels and held three hearings on the issue around the state this year.  

Nabisco has released a special edition of its classic sandwich cookie, just in time for Halloween: Oreos with candy corn filling. This beats the July 4 special, the Oreo filled with a live M-80.

Eva: I didn't even know candy corn and Oreos were dating ... now they have a kid?!

Robert: When I eat regular Oreos, I want a glass of milk. When I eat these, I want a glass of poison.

(Weirdly, the filling lacks the waxy quality of candy corn, which Robert says is because it doesn't have any quality at all.)

It's always a bit sad to say goodbye to summer corn and tomatoes, and settle into fall.

There are consolations, though — like the new crop of pears. Over 80 percent of America's fresh pears are grown in the Pacific Northwest, and this year's harvest is slated to be one of the biggest on record.

But some of the fruit is rotting in the orchards because there aren't enough workers to pick them.

Students in a Virginia school system are now eating hamburgers with additives in them, after officials heeded their complaints about the appearance and taste of the all-beef burgers it had been serving. The burgers that are now being served include a reported 26 ingredients.

It's chile season in New Mexico, where they take their chiles pretty seriously.

Indeed, the chile is the official state vegetable, so it's probably best to not mention it is actually a fruit. No matter what it is, the fall harvest is on, and that means it's time to fire up the grills.

Green chiles roasting over a hot gas flame give off a smoky, sweet, pungent perfume.

That smell is part of what has drawn customers like Lorenzo and Peggy Lucero to the Diaz farm in Deming, in southwest New Mexico, for the past 30 years.

Pirate Joe's, the grocery store that made waves — and attracted a lawsuit — for selling Trader Joe's items in Canada, has won a battle in its legal fight with the supermarket chain. A U.S. district court judge has granted the Vancouver store's motion to dismiss a trademark infringement lawsuit.

After the lawsuit was filed, Pirate Joe's took on the name _Irate Joe's. The store's owner, Mike Hallatt, says he began his enterprise on a small scale last year, driving groceries across the border from Washington State to Vancouver. Trader Joe's does not operate any stores in Canada.

Until recently, if you wanted to find out the rules for raising goats in Hollywood, bees in Bel Air or squash in a community garden in South Central Los Angeles, it would have been pretty tough — like standing in various lines at the DMV.

Buried in Grain

Oct 4, 2013

Data from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration worksite inspection database regarding grain accidents in Illinois and other states in the country.

Meat-Drenched Oktoberfest Warms To Vegans

Oct 4, 2013

Oktoberfest, one of the world's largest festivals, is mostly about beer. And to soak up all that froth and alcohol, Bavarians have traditionally reached for meat.

As we reported Tuesday, the government shutdown is pushing the nation's food safety system to its limits.

For instance, there is normally a team of eight people overseeing the critical foodborne illness tracking database PulseNet. This team identifies clusters of sickness linked to potentially dangerous strains of pathogens such as E. coli or salmonella.

Beef from cattle that have grazed only on pasture is in high demand — much to the surprise of many meat retailers, who didn't traditionally think of grass-fed beef as top-quality.

George Siemon, a founder of Organic Valley, the big organic food supplier, says the push for grass-fed beef started with activists who wanted to challenge a beef industry dominated by factory-scale feedlots. In those feedlots, cattle are fed a corn-heavy diet designed to make the animals gain weight as quickly as possible.

With the current bloom of artisanal small-batch producers across the country, you'd think that all you need to start up a new food business is a good idea and a lot of gumption. And for the most part, that's true. But when it comes to artisanal producers working with meat, you also need something else: a Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points plan. Or, if you will, a HACCP.

Government Shutdown Slows USDA

Oct 3, 2013
brittreints/flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was forced to send home tens of thousands of employees because of Tuesday’s government shutdown.

As a result, the agriculture department and its nearly two dozen agencies are operating at limited capacity – or not at all.

But even though important agencies such as the Farm Service Agency and the Risk Management Agency will be shut down almost entirely, agriculture officials said that Midwest farmers and producers won’t be affected that much.

The health benefits of eating fish are pretty well-known. A lean source of protein, fish can be a rich source of healthful omega-3 fatty acids and has been shown to benefit heart, eye and brain health.

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Nutrition programs that feed the elderly have not been exempted from the closure. For example, Meals on Wheels in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It feeds about 200 elderly clients - most of whom live alone - supplying what for many is their only meal of the day.

Is It Time To Cool It On Kale Already?

Oct 2, 2013

Let's start by agreeing to this premise: Kale is very good for you.

And yes, we here at The Salt have been known to indulge in — nay, crave — kale chips and kale salads on a not infrequent basis.

Still, when we found out that Wednesday is National Kale Day — featuring a kale dance party (we kid you not) — we couldn't help but think: Come on, people, the kale love has officially Gone. Too. Far.

Walk through a health food store and you'll find amaranth, sorghum, quinoa — heritage grains that have been staples around the world for generations. Americans are just discovering them.

There's another age-old grain that grows right here on the Great Plains: millet.

Among those affected by the chaos of the government shutdown are 9 million low-income women and children who may be worrying where next week's meal is going to come from.

They rely on the government for food assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC.

These days, many people wear their vegetarianism as a badge of honor — even if it's only before 6 p.m, as food writer Mark Bittman advocates. (Actually, he wants us to go part-time vegan.) There's even a World Vegetarian Day, which happens to be today, FYI.

What makes a guy put a ring on it? New York Post reporter Stephanie Smith hopes 300 sandwiches will be her answer.

It all started after one particularly tasty turkey sandwich she made for her boyfriend. Smith says that the sandwich was so good, he said, "You're, like, 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring."

So Smith got cookin' and is sharing her journey of food and love through her blog, 300sandwiches.com. It features a daily gourmet sandwich recipe.

Millet Could Be The Next Trendy Grain

Oct 1, 2013
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Heritage grains are trendy. Walk through a health food store and see packages of grains grown long before modern seed technology created hybrid varieties, grains eaten widely outside of the developed world: amaranth, sorghum, quinoa.

But there’s another grain with tremendous potential growing on the Great Plains: millet.

Worldwide, roughly 1 in 8 people suffered from chronic hunger from 2011 to 2013, according to a new report from three U.N. food agencies.

They concluded that 842 million people didn't get enough food to lead healthy lives in that period, a slight drop from the 868 million in the previous report.

The modest change was attributed to several factors, from economic growth in developing countries to investments in agriculture. And in some countries, people have benefited from money sent home by migrant workers. But the gains were unevenly distributed, the report's authors say.

It's one part Food Network, one part Mr. Science, two big handfuls of DIY, and probably going to be a whole lot of fun.

Study: Fast Food Has Gotten A Bit Slower

Oct 1, 2013

Fast food, it turns out, isn't quite as fast as it used to be.

A new study finds that McDonald's posted its slowest drive-through times since this survey was first conducted 15 years ago.

Farm Bill Expires; What's Next?

Oct 1, 2013
Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

The farm bill expired at midnight on Monday, leaving farmers and ranchers across the country guessing at what federal farm policy will look like when they next put their crops in the ground.

Of course, they’re used to uncertainty, as this is the second straight year Congress has let the farm bill expire. Last year, farmers were set adrift for three months before lawmakers passed a nine-month extension of older policy in January.

Marcella Hazan, whose cookbooks helped revolutionize Americans' conceptions of what real Italian cooking tastes like, died Sunday at her home in Longboat Key, Fla. She was 89.

Sandwich Monday: McDonald's Mighty Wings

Sep 30, 2013

Chicken wing restaurants continue to pop up everywhere in this country — there are Wingstop, Buffalo Wild Wings, Aaron Sorkin's West Wings. Now, McDonald's is getting in on the act with Mighty Wings. They're available in three-piece, five-piece, and Who-Am-I-Kidding-I've-Got-Nothing-Left-To-Prove-piece.

Peter: I was as surprised to find an actual bone in this as I would be to find a bone in a banana.

Eva: How McDonald's got the bones in the nugget is the modern version of the classic ship in a bottle mystery.

Monica Eng/WBEZ

How well would you do living off $4.80 a day for food? 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is often the way some families get food. The SNAP Challenge is designed to illustrate what it's like to live off the allotment given to those who receive what are commonly called food stamps. 

Chances are, you've seen it in your local grocery store. Maybe you've even mustered the courage to taste it — or at least take a whiff.

Once mostly a product of health food stores and hippies' kitchens, kombucha tea is now commercially available in many major grocery stores.

And people aren't necessarily scooping it up for its flavor. Its taste has been described as somewhere between vinegar soda and carbonated apple cider.

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