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.

Meals on Wheels brings food to hundreds of thousands of homebound seniors and people with disabilities. But President Trump's proposed budget has this community-based program, like many others, facing cuts.

On a hazy morning, Alan Zebker and and Vicki Kysella are organizing packages of food in the back of Zebker's SUV. They're volunteers with Meals on Wheels West in Santa Monica.

They've got their routine down.

"Alan packs the bags; I make the deliveries," Kysella says.

"When she's delivering, I pack more bags," Zebker says.

In 1921, an ad in The Seattle Times touted a brand new candy called "Aplets," a new confection made "from the finest Washington apples and honey and walnuts." A few years later, Aplets were joined by "Cotlets," a similar candy made from an apricot base. In most of the world, "Aplets & Cotlets" were based on a treat called lokum, a word derived from Arabic, but the British and Americans know it as "Turkish delight."

Here's a classic big city dilemma (sorry suburban folks): It's late at night, the weather is bad, and you're hungry. Your favorite restaurant is less than a mile away, but you don't want to leave the house, and you don't want to pay a $5 delivery fee — plus tip — for a $10 meal.

So, what do you do?

Back in the old days, you would have braved the elements — or learned to plan ahead. But those days are coming to an end, at least in Washington, D.C.

Dan Fazio says his phone is "ringing off the hook" these days.

He's executive director of WAFLA, an organization that helps fruit growers in Washington state find workers — and specifically, foreign workers who are allowed to enter the U.S. specifically as seasonal workers on farms.

Though he didn't come from a farming family, from a young age Tim Joseph was fascinated by the idea of living off the land. Reading magazines like The Stockman Grass Farmer and Graze, he "got hooked on the idea of grass-fed agriculture — that all energy and wealth comes from the sun," he explains, "and the shorter the distance between the sun and the end product," the higher the profit to the farmer.

For the last 20 years, Americans have been having a conversation about sustainable seafood that was largely focused on fish purchased at restaurants or fresh seafood counters. Armed with seafood guides, thoughtful customers were encouraged to pose questions about where their fish was caught and what type of gear was used — questions that are far trickier to pose in front of a wall of canned tuna in the middle of a supermarket.

USFWS-Mountain Prairie

The decline of the monarch butterfly population has led researchers to look for reasons why. 

A popular theory is the loss of milkweed, the only plant on which monarch larvae feed.  But a study from the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois indicates that's not the sole culprit.  

If you saw any people leaping over fires, grilling fragrant kebabs or holding elaborate picnics this weekend, you may have witnessed celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which marks the start of spring across large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Exercising While Pregnant Is Almost Always A Good Idea

Mar 21, 2017

Being pregnant can sometimes feel like traversing a minefield of advice: You want to do the right thing for your baby and yourself, but conflicting input from physicians, relatives, friends and even total strangers makes it difficult to know exactly what is helpful and what is potentially harmful.

A group of researchers want women to know that when it comes to exercise, there is a strong consensus of benefit for both the mother and developing fetus.

Call it an outburst of outrage giving.

Since President Trump's budget proposal was unveiled last Thursday, Meals on Wheels America, the national group which says it supports more than 5,000 community-based organizations that deliver meals to homebound seniors, has seen a flood of donations.

Brazil has long been awash with corruption scandals, but the latest to erupt is about an issue that is particularly close to the nation's heart and stomach — and its wallet.

Few people are more prolific meat-eaters than the Brazilians, and few are more passionate about the merits of the barbecue, or churrasco.

They grill with gusto at almost any opportunity — on the beach, the sidewalk, at soccer games and even at protest rallies, where the whiff of sizzling sausage competes with the eye-watering stink of tear gas.

On a bitterly cold day in February 1846, the French writer Victor Hugo was on his way to work when he saw something that affected him profoundly.

A thin young man with a loaf of bread under his arm was being led away by police. Bystanders said he was being arrested for stealing the loaf. He was dressed in mud-spattered clothes, his bare feet thrust into clogs, his ankles wrapped in bloodied rags in lieu of stockings.

"It made me think," wrote Hugo. "The man was no longer a man in my eyes but the specter of la misère, of poverty."

In Rural Trump Country, Trade Policy Divides

Mar 20, 2017
CREDIT GRANT GERLOCK / Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The St. Patrick's parade is over and the Irish (and honorary Irish) have gone home to sleep off their annual bout of intemperance, but the multi-generational marchers of the Italian-American St. Joseph Society in New Orleans are only just dusting off their tuxedos and straightening their bow ties. Once the shamrocks and shenanigans have vanished from the narrow streets of the French Quarter, and the keg of green beer is empty, another parade — in honor of an entirely different saint — is beginning to gear up.

The 1,500-mile Appalachian Mountain range stretches so far that those on the northern and southern sides can't agree on what to call it: Appa-LAY-chia or Appa-LATCH-ia. The outside perspective on the people who live there might be even more mangled. Stories about Appalachia tend to center around subjects like poverty, the opioid epidemic and coal, but since 1966 a series called Foxfire has been sharing food, culture and life as it's actually lived in the mountain region.

Speak of the Emerald Isle, and you picture verdant rolling hillsides. But there's another green bounty — not just on Ireland's soil, but off its coast. We're talking about seaweed. And if some Irish have their way, it'll be making its way back onto plates.

We hear a lot about U.S. companies laying off workers and shipping jobs overseas.

So, amid the global pressures to downsize, how do you hang onto your workforce?

We went looking for answers in Chelsea, Mich., home to a family owned manufacturer that's managed to thrive over four generations, since the company's founding in 1907.

The Chelsea Milling Co. is better known as the manufacturer of Jiffy baking mixes. You know the ones. They come in those signature little blue and white boxes: mixes for muffins, cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, brownies and more.

Environmentalists love "cover crops." These are plants that tolerate cool weather and grow on farm fields after the crops are harvested. They hold the soil in place and are probably the most effective way to keep nutrients in fields, rather than polluting nearby streams.

Surely, Oakhurst Dairy would have done well to heed the immortal words of the '80s hair band Cinderella: "Don't know what you got (till it's gone)."

The milk and cream company based in Portland, Maine, likely never appreciated the serial comma — also known as an Oxford comma — so much as it did Monday, when the lack of that little curved stroke cost the company an appeals court ruling that centered on overtime rules for drivers.

When Stephen Bosio of Pasadena, Calif., fed his 9-month-old son a pasty, the act felt, by his assessment, more important than it should have.

"Teddy is a fifth generation pasty-eating man," Stephen told me.

Bottles of Roundup on a shelf.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto says it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

Two years ago, a U.N.-sponsored scientific agency declared that the popular weedkiller glyphosate probably causes cancer. That finding from the International Agency for Research on Cancer caused an international uproar. Monsanto, the company that invented glyphosate and still sells most of it, unleashed a fierce campaign to discredit the IARC's conclusions.

This month, I ventured to ask the man behind the counter at a Whole Foods Market what kind of shrimp he was selling. "I don't know," he replied. "I think they're just normal shrimp." I glanced at the sustainable seafood guide on my phone. There were 80 entries for shrimp, none of them listed "normal."

What about the cod? Was it Atlantic or Pacific? Atlantic. How was it caught? I asked. "I'm not sure," he said, looking doubtfully at a creamy fish slab. "With nets, I think. Not with harpoons."

Remember on Mad Men when Don Draper had an idea for a Heinz ketchup ad? The idea was to show foods that need ketchup, with none in sight. Heinz plans to make that fictional ad campaign real.

"It tasted like rotten compost," recalls Max Falkowitz, executive digital editor of the food and wine magazine Saveur, of the time in college he sipped one of the most sought-after teas in the world. That would be pu'er — a legendary, fermented dark tea sourced from ancient trees in the isolated forest canopies of the Yunnan Province in southwest China.

A few months ago, at her office in Houston, Kate Rubins was feeling weird.

She was dizzy, she says — "staggering around like a 2-year-old who had just learned to walk." She was constantly looking at her desk to make sure the objects on top weren't floating away.

Rubins wasn't going nuts. She was just readjusting to Earth after living without gravity for four months, hundreds of miles above the planet's surface.

One hundred seeds: That's the number Minara Begum needs to plant in her Detroit backyard in order to grow enough vegetables such as squash, taro root and amaranth greens to feed her family for the year.

She learned to cook and garden at a young age in Bangladesh. In the two years since she moved to the U.S., she's grown traditional South Asian crops to feed her family — and whoever visits — on any given day. There's always a pot, or several, on the stove.

Man standing in front of a tent full of chickens.
Bryan Thomson / Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

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