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.

For Dan Barber, the celebrated chef of the New York City restaurant Blue Hill, each course of a meal is an opportunity to tell a story. One of these stories is about a pepper — an aromatic, orange habanero without any heat.

Remember when 1992 was the Year of the Woman? Yeah, that was a thing, although ever-intrepid Sen. Barbara Mikulski shrugged it off at the time, saying, "Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We're not a fad, a fancy, or a year."

Everyone loves a cheap eats list. A treasure map to $1 tacos! $4 banh mi! $6 pad Thai! More often than not, the Xs that mark the cheap spots are in the city's immigrant enclaves. Indeed, food media is never so diverse as when it runs these lists, its pages fill with names of restaurateurs and chefs of color.

These lists infuriate me.

Before I became a restaurant owner, I spent my childhood in my relatives' pho restaurants. Because of that, I have deep compassion for and understanding of the pressures facing immigrant restaurateurs.

A Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City debuted a new dish last week that's getting a lot of buzz. It's a burger made entirely from plants.

This isn't just another veggie knock off. The rap is that this burger looks, cooks and even bleeds like the real thing.

The Impossible Burger, as it's known, is the culmination of a dream for Pat Brown. For 25 years, Brown was a professor at Stanford University. He was one of the stars in his field, studying a range of biomedical topics.

"Genetics and genomics ... cancer research — nothing to do with food," says Brown.

President Trump recently described Frederick Douglass as "an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice." The president's muddled tense – it came out sounding as if the 19th-century abolitionist were alive with a galloping Twitter following – provoked some mirth on social media. But the spotlight on one of America's great moral heroes is a welcome one.

About a 15-minute drive east of St. Louis is a complex of earthen mounds that once supported a prehistoric city of thousands. For a couple of hundred years, the city, called Cahokia, and several smaller city-states like it flourished in the Mississippi River Valley. But by the time European colonizers set foot on American soil in the 15th century, these cities were already empty.

Getting people to change what they eat is tough. Changing a whole farming system is even tougher. The southern Indian state of Karnataka is quietly trying to do both, with a group of cereals that was once a staple in the state: millet.

Until about 40 years ago, like most of India, the people of Karnataka regularly ate a variety of millets, from finger millet (or ragi) to foxtail millet. They made rotis with it, ate it with rice, and slurped it up at breakfast as porridge.

Each year, fish farms produce a massive amount of carp — so much that if you put all that fish on one side of a scale, and all the people living in the U.S. on the other side, they'd pretty much balance each other out by weight.

But for the past couple of decades, carp have been plagued by a type of herpes virus, known as Koi herpesvirus.

As a New Yorker, I ordered my groceries online and had them delivered to my third-floor walkup. After we moved to Portland, Ore., my husband and I started growing our own fruits and vegetables in the backyard. The logical next step in our evolution from city to country-ish mice: foraging.

A few months ago, some friends asked us to go mushroom hunting. When we actually found chanterelles, which sell for $15 a pound at the grocery store, I felt a small thrill: Expensive ingredients were free for the taking in a forest half an hour from home.

Alfredo Mejia works with speech language pathologist Brandi Sidor.
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Medicaid Managed Care  Is A Mixed Bag For Providers, Patients

Yvonne Hardcastle was at her wit’s end. Her son, Alfredo Mejia, was 7 years old. He was angry all the time and had been diagnosed with behavior problems and ADHD, but that didn’t feel right. She didn’t know what was wrong, but her mother’s intuition kept pushing her to find help for her boy.

Customers who walked through the door of Everyman Espresso, a cafe in New York's East Village, last weekend got a pitch at the check-out counter to support a fundraiser to help defend immigrants.

"We're donating 5 percent [of our proceeds] to the ACLU in response to the travel ban," Eric Grimm, a manager at the cafe, explained.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the condiment aisle, a British supermarket chain has reignited the ketchup wars.

To be clear, ASDA did not start the great debate over whether to keep an opened bottle of ketchup in the refrigerator or at room temperature. But the grocery store has callously dared to goad a long-simmering argument into a full-on cold war.

Colin Curwen-McAdams opens the door to his greenhouse in Mt. Vernon, Wash., and a rush of warm air pours out.

"Basically, it's summer all year long here," he jokes.

Curwen-McAdams, a PhD student at Washington State University, and WSU professor Steven Jones have developed a new species: a cross between wheat and its wild cousin, wheat grass. They call it Salish Blue. Their goal was to make something that's like wheat but grows back year after year.

Seeing a great work of art might quicken your pulse, but now New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is hoping you'll break a sweat, too. The Met is currently offering a "Museum Workout" — part performance, part workout, part art tour.

On a recent morning, 15 of us gather in The Great Hall before the museum opens. We line up behind two tour guide dancers — both wearing sparkly cocktail dresses and sneakers. A guy with a portable speaker stands nearby.

If you've heard of interval training, you can probably thank Martin Gibala, professor and chair of the kinesiology department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, whose research has helped popularize the time-saving exercise technique.

It was February 1824, and Charles Dickens was hungry. With his father, John Dickens, jailed in the Marshalsea Prison over a debt of 40 pounds, 12-year-old Charles begrudgingly quit school to work at Warren's Blacking Factory in London. His family, who was forced to move into the prison with their father, desperately needed the money; there were 10 starving mouths to feed.

In the foothills of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, a gravel road leads to a 10-foot-tall fence. Type in a key code, and a gate scrapes open. Undo a chain to get behind another. Everything here is made of metal, because the residents of this facility are experts at invasion and destruction.

When Mana Heshmati isn't working as an engineer, she's cooking traditional Iranian food through her "low-profit" Peace Meal Kitchen, a pop-up dining series based in Detroit.

It's a way to expose diners to her Iranian heritage and dispel misconceptions about the often misunderstood country.

The innovation of synthetic fleece has allowed many outdoor enthusiasts to hike with warmth and comfort. But what many of these fleece-wearing nature lovers don't know is that each wash of their jackets and pullovers releases thousands of microscopic plastic fibers, or microfibers, into the environment — from their favorite national park to agricultural lands to waters with fish that make it back onto our plates.

This has scientists wondering: Are we eating our sweaters' synthetic microfibers?

Mike McCloskey, who runs one of the biggest dairy operations in America, is driving down a road in Puerto Rico in an unusually reflective mood.

"This is a full circle-type story, right?" he muses. "I was raised here, had such a fantastic childhood." He ticks off other way stations in his life: Mexico, California, New Mexico, and Indiana. Along the way, McCloskey built an empire of milk. Now, the dairy business has brought him back home again.

"You don't look like you're from around here," a young Adolphus Busch is told as he arrives in America from Germany to pursue his dream of making beer. So begins Budweiser's new Super Bowl ad, released earlier this week into an ongoing political maelstrom over immigration.

Dionisio Yam Moo stands about four-and-a-half-feet tall, and his skin is weathered from years in the tropical sun. A "proudly Mayan" farmer, he grows corn, beans and vegetables on a six-hectare farm in Mexico's Yucatán peninsula. The farm is surrounded by dense tropical forest, and crops grow amid fruit trees in thin soil, with the peninsula's limestone bedrock protruding in places.

Black Cow might be made with milk, but you won't find it in the dairy case. It's on the liquor shelves, because this milk, which comes from a herd of grass-fed cattle in Dorset, England, has been distilled into premium vodka.

Sixth-generation dairy farmer and DIY distiller Jason Barber likes to experiment.

Yemeni-owned bodegas across New York City's five boroughs shut their doors at noon ET Thursday to protest President Trump's executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Under the order signed last Friday, travelers from not only Yemen but also Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria are barred from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also suspends admissions of new refugees for 120 days.

It's tempting to keep the computer running late and promise yourself an extra 30 minutes of bed rest in the morning. It's tempting to do it again the next night, too. But sleep inevitably loses out to getting up early for school or work.

The first time Somali-American chef Jamal Hashi put camel meat on his menu in Minneapolis, it didn't go well. He tried grinding it into a burger and using chunks of it in a spicy stew, but no matter, the texture was bad and the sales were worse. "It was like chewing on a patty of rubber bands," he said of the burger.

At its best, camel meat tastes much like lean beef. But certain cuts can be tough, and if the meat comes from an old camel, it can also taste gamey. Hashi had used a shoulder cut, and neither he nor his customers were happy with the results.

Heading a soccer ball is both a fundamental skill and a dynamic way to score a goal, but research says it could be causing concussions along with player collisions.

Genetically engineered crops are nothing new. But emerging technology that allows scientists to alter plants more precisely and cheaply is taking genetically engineered plants from the field to the kitchen.

The first version of the Arctic Apple, a genetically modified Golden Delicious, is headed for test markets in the Midwest in February, according to the company that produced it. It is the first genetically engineered apple, altered so that when it is cut, it doesn't turn brown from oxidation.

It's an Indian dish you're unlikely to find in India.

Bunny chow is essentially a kind of bread bowl. You take a loaf of white bread, hollow out the middle and fill it with a curry, either vegetarian beans or some type of meat.

But not rabbit. The name "bunny" comes from the corruption of an Indian term referring to merchants. The dish has its origins in Durban, South Africa's third-largest city.

When Egyptologist Howard Carter opened King Tutankamun's tomb in 1922, the first thing he saw was, "Gold – everywhere the glint of gold," according to his diaries. Unlike silver or iron, gold neither corrodes nor tarnishes. There are few more recognizable signs of wealth than to take everything you own and cover it with gold.

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