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 corner of Jymie Jimerson's house in the town of Sparta, in southwest Missouri, she has set up a kind of shrine. It has Native American art representing her Cherokee heritage alongside Willie Nelson albums, books and photos in remembrance of her late husband.

There's a copy of Willie's mid-'70s LP Red Headed Stranger. "When Steve was young, he had red hair and a red beard, so he always really identified with Willie's Red Headed Stranger," Jimerson says. "I try to keep it up there as a reminder of better days."

Two boys have been charged with killing a half-million bees after they allegedly vandalized a honey farm in Sioux City, Iowa, knocking over hives and exposing the bees to deadly winter temperatures.

The suspects are 12 and 13 years old and their names are not being released because of their age.

A tablespoon of soil contains billions of microscopic organisms. Life on Earth, especially the growing of food, depends on these microbes, but scientists don't even have names for most of them, much less a description.

That's changing, slowly, thanks to researchers like Noah Fierer, at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Fierer think microbes have lived in obscurity for too long. "They do a lot of important things for us, directly or indirectly, and I hope they get the respect they deserve," he says.

It wouldn't make any sense to send a French-speaking refugee to a German-speaking town in Switzerland.

But under Switzerland's current system of placing refugees, that's a situation that can easily happen. This problem isn't unique to Switzerland, and it's not the only kind of mismatch that might happen.

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Researchers say they have taken a step toward developing a blood test that would detect eight common cancers, possibly even before symptoms appear.

As they report Thursday in the journal Science, they're hoping their idea would eventually lead to a $500 test that can screen for cancer and identify people with the disease when it's in its earliest stages and more treatable.

But they have a long way to go.

A strange smell had invaded my apartment. It was sour and pungent like rotting meat. Or maybe it was more like old fish. It was kind of like both of those things with a hint of spoiled milk. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, blame the English language. It's not just me; it's very difficult to describe scents in English. It's hard to do in German and Dutch and French, too.

So why aren't Westerners good at naming scents?

For decades, scientists thought perhaps smell was a diminished human sense and less valuable than other senses — like our glorious eyesight.

Moutai baijiu reigns as China's favorite brand of its favorite liquor — but the famously fiery drink is getting hard to find, as bottles are snatched up by market speculators. Renewed thirst for baijiu has sent the value of brand parent Kweichow Moutai soaring, making it the world's most valuable distiller.

Listen up, night owls: If you're sleeping six or fewer hours per night, you're not doing your health any favors.

A new study finds that getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night may help you tame your sweet tooth.

Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

We live in an age of heightened awareness about concussions. From battlefields around the world to football fields in the U.S., we've heard about the dangers caused when the brain rattles around inside the skull and the possible link between concussions and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

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President Trump has frequently promised to protect religious freedom in this country.

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The National Parks And Ryan Zinke

Jan 18, 2018

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President Trump has frequently promised to protect religious freedom in this country...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.

Nora Baladerian and Karyn Harvey are both psychologists with an unusual specialty — they are among a small number of therapists who treat people with intellectual disabilities who have been the victims of sexual violence.

They're friends, brought together by decades of shared experience. Baladerian, from Los Angeles, is a co-founder of the Disability and Abuse Project, which tracks violence against people with intellectual disabilities.

Katie Buck / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Health centers in Illinois are forming partnerships with local food banks to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to some patients. With an estimated 1.5 million residents in the state classified as food insecure by the U.S. census, could this be a key approach to improving food access?

Would you eat venison if there was a chance it could slowly eat away at your brain?

If there's a slight possibility, it doesn't bother Patrick States. On the menu this evening for his wife and two daughters at their Northglenn, Colo., home are pan-seared venison steaks with mashed potatoes and a whiskey cream sauce.

"We each have our specialty, actually," says States as the steak sizzles. "The girls made elk tamales this morning, but we use [venison or elk] in spaghetti, chili, soup, whatever."

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Nearly all of the seats on the U.S. National Park Service advisory board are vacant following a mass resignation Monday night, with ex-members citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's unwillingness to meet with them.

Colin Campbell needs help dressing, bathing and moving between his bed and his wheelchair. He has a feeding tube because his partially paralyzed tongue makes swallowing "almost impossible," he says.

Campbell, 58, spends $4,000 a month on home health care services so he can continue to live in his home just outside Los Angeles. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, which relentlessly attacks the nerve cells in his brain and spinal cord and has no cure.

Accidental deaths in the United States rose significantly in 2016, becoming the third-leading cause of fatalities for the first time in more than a century – a trend fueled by the steep rise in opioid overdoses, the National Safety Council reports.

Accidents — defined by the council as unintentional, preventable injuries — claimed a record 161,374 lives in 2016, a 10 percent increase over 2015. They include motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, choking and poisoning, a category that encompasses accidental overdoses.

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson has served with Navy bomb disposal units and instructed underwater salvage teams.

His latest assignment: defusing doubts about the health and mental fitness of the nation's 71-year-old president.

Now, there is ample reason for you to cover your nose when you sneeze. It's flu season, after all, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it quite clear it doesn't want you spreading your germs with reckless abandon.

But let's not go overboard here, people.

Glenford Turner had surgery in 2013 at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Connecticut. Four years later, according to a new lawsuit, doctors discovered that a sharp metal surgical instrument had been accidentally left inside the Army veteran's body.

"It's perplexing to me how they could be so incompetent that a scalpel that really should only be on the exterior of your body not only goes into the body but then is sewn into the body," Turner's lawyer, Joel Faxon, tells NPR. "It's a level of incompetence that's almost incomprehensible."

This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that's made primarily from vegetable oil. They're doing it, though, not because it's cheaper or better, but because they're required to, by law.

The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it's the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it's a wasteful misuse of resources.

President Trump is in excellent health with "no indication" of "any cognitive issues" — but he could afford to lose a few pounds and start exercising over the coming year, according to the president's physician.

On Friday, we posed this question to our audience: What do you think of the way poor countries are portrayed by aid groups and the media?

The question came in light of President Donald Trump's reported description of El Salvador, Haiti and nations in Africa as "shithole countries" last week.

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