Food and Nutrition: Interesting Stories from National Public Radio


Here is the latest Food News from National Public Radio.

For Some Asian-Americans, Calvin Trillin’s Chinese Food Poem Is Unappetizing
A satirical poem in The New Yorker about Chinese food in the U.S. has left many Asian-American writers with a bad taste in their mouths.

Is Samoa’s Obesity Epidemic A Harbinger For Other Developing Nations?
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are becoming more common all over the world. But the tiny Samoan islands now have the highest rates. An epidemiologist blames changes in diet brought on by globalization.

Tiny Forage Fish At Bottom Of Marine Food Web Get New Protections
Demand for sardines and other small species has exploded, with many being used as feed for livestock and fish farming. New rules aim to protect these species from overfishing off the U.S. West Coast.

All-Natural But Still ‘Imitation’? The Strange Case Of The Skim Milk Label
A Florida dairy farmer has had to dump hundreds of gallons of skim milk from her creamery because she doesn’t add vitamins back in. Legally, that makes it an “imitation milk product.”

Big Seed: Consolidation Is Shrinking The Industry Even Further
Over the past century, small-town seed businesses have given way to global enterprises. The story of one small seed company in Nebraska helps explain what drove the transformation.

Better Late Than Never: Olympic Champion Greg Louganis Gets His Wheaties Box
The openly gay gold-medal winner said the box “means so much more to me than it would have then because I feel like I’m being embraced as a whole person, not just for my athletic achievements.”

How Colorado Is Turning Food Waste Into Electricity
At the Heartland Biogas Project, spoiled milk, old pet food and vats of grease combine with helpful bacteria in massive tanks to generate gas. It’s all thanks to anaerobic digestion.

Cooking For Cancer Patients, Teens Learn More Than Recipes
The Bay Area-based Ceres Community Project recruits teen volunteers — many of whom were formerly homeless — to cook healthful meals and deliver them to local hospitals.

Going There: How We Eat
The journey our food takes from farm to fork can be fascinating. But from eating organic to genetically modified, local or seasonal, what food is best for individuals, communities and the environment?

‘Going Green’ Is Really ‘Going Native’: Western Apache Chef Nephi Craig
Chef Nephi Craig of the Apaches in the Kitchen blog reflects on what the “mainstream” culinary world has to learn about Native foodways.

When Is It OK To Profit From Cooking Other Cultures’ Food? You Weighed In
We started a conversation about food and race. Who gets to cook and become the face of a culture’s cuisine? While our question was prompted by an interview with Rick Bayless, the issue transcends him.

The Surprising Story Behind Spam (The Food)
Author Ted Genoways traces the origins of canned spam in his book The Chain; Farm, Factory and the Fate of Our Food.

Is There Wood Pulp In That Parmesan? How Scientists Sniff Out Food Fraud
Whether it’s olive oil that’s not so extra-virgin or burgers with a hint of horse meat — Chris Elliott, founder of the Institute for Global Food Security, explains how his laboratory uncovers fraud.

Intentionally Awful Photos Of ‘Dimly Lit Meals For One’
Instagram food photos often offer a curated image of an idealized existence. This book is not that: It pairs grainy photos of culinary monstrosities with fictional tales of the sad sacks eating them.

Hitler Couldn’t Defeat Churchill, But Champagne Nearly Did
During the 1930s, as Hitler was rising to power in Germany, the man who would turn out to be his most implacable foe was drowning – in debt and champagne. A new book recounts the unbelievable excess.

Your Quinoa Habit Really Did Help Peru’s Poor. But There’s Trouble Ahead
Headlines once warned the global quinoa boom was putting the nutritious crop out of the reach of those who grow it. New studies put those fears to rest. But bad news may loom for Andean farmers.

Women Farmers Band Together To Vent, Seek Support And Exchange Ideas
The agriculture industry is traditionally male-dominated. But that’s changing: Over the past 15 years, the fraction of U.S. farms run by women has nearly tripled.

‘Peking Ravioli’ And Other Chinese Dishes You’ll Find Only In Boston
Chow mein sandwiches? Bread as a standard side dish? There’s a fascinating history behind Boston’s unique spin on Chinese cuisine.

Why Whole Foods Wants A Slower-Growing Chicken
A modern broiler, or meat chicken, grows incredibly fast. The bird suffers as a result, and some critics say its flavor does too. Now Whole Foods wants its suppliers to shift to slower-growing breeds.

Adopt A Beehive — Save A Beekeeper?
Many of the foods we eat depend on pollination from honeybees. But bees are in trouble, and so are beekeepers — replacing lost hives is expensive. Some have come up with a new source of funding.

Baked Alaska: A Creation Story Shrouded In Mystery
In March 1867, the U.S. purchased Alaska. This igloo-shaped, torched-meringue dessert came as a fringe benefit. Was it a sweet flash of genius, political satire — or maybe a bit of both?

Love Your Sourdough Starter? In Stockholm, You Can Hire A Sitter For It
A batch of starter can live indefinitely, but it also requires a certain amount of care and feeding. Apparently, that can pose a problem for Swedes and their five weeks of annual vacation.

Organic Foods Still Aren’t As Mass Market As You Might Think
With Wal-Mart now selling organic food, and Whole Foods testing cheaper stores, it’s easy to think organic has gone mainstream. But one study finds organics are still far more common in richer areas.

How Little Vermont Got Big Food Companies To Label GMOs
In the coming weeks, major brands including General Mills, Kellogg and Mars will start labeling foods produced with genetic engineering. That’s all because of a Vermont law set to take effect July 1.

Newfoundland Faces Condiment Crisis As Smucker’s Scraps Mustard Pickles
Smucker’s announced they will discontinue the beloved Zest and Habitant mustard pickles, which are popular on the province of Newfoundland.

Sing It Now: ‘One A Penny, Two A Penny, Hot Cross Buns’
Many in the U.S. know this Easter treat mainly from song. But in the U.K. and many former British colonies (even the U.S.), they’re big business.

Artisanal Plastic: Japan’s Fake Food Is A Real Art
Intricately crafted replicas of all sorts of dishes and drink — cakes, sushi and even beer — are ubiquitous window displays in Japan. A new book visually explores the culture ofNearly Eternal food.

Fry And Fry Again: The Science Secrets To The Double Fry
You might have heard that double-frying food gives you a thicker, crunchier, more soul-completing crust. Here’s why it works.

Eggs Become Art To Celebrate Life’s Rebirth
Cultures around the world decorate eggs to celebrate spring. Modern artists continue those traditions, reflecting the fragility and beauty of life.

Study Finds Climate Change Could Be Leading To Better Wine
A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change finds weather plays a role in determining the quality of wine produced.

Ceci N’Est Pas Ice Cream (Actually It’s Lard And Food Coloring)
A photo series exposes the cheats food stylists use to make dishes look so scrumptious in glossy magazines and cookbooks. Roast meats are glazed with motor oil, and milk is replaced with glue.

With Bees In Trouble, Almond Farmers Try Trees That Don’t Need ‘Em
A relatively new variety of almond trees called Independence has some beekeepers nervous. These trees are self-fertile — meaning they technically don’t need bees to pollinate their flowers.

Bubble Tea Is Back — With A Vengeance
Boba is the Taiwanese beverage that allows you to chew your drink. In its latest incarnations (think horchata and cocktail bobas), it’s playing ambassador to a whole host of other foods and trends.

World Of Beer Asks Interns To Eat, Drink And Hop Around Globe
World of Beer, a Tampa-based bar and restaurant chain, is looking for interns willing to travel the globe, tasting beer and documenting their experiences across social media for four months.

When Chefs Become Famous Cooking Other Cultures’ Food
Rick Bayless is a master of Mexican fare. He’s also a white guy from Oklahoma. Over the years, that’s made him the target of criticism. Who gets to be the ambassador of a cuisine?

In Florida, Strawberry Fields Are Not Forever
March is a pivotal time in the world of strawberries. Production shifts westward, to California. In Florida, thousands of men and women who pick strawberries are moving on to other work.

An Upside To Climate Change? Better French Wine
Global warming has made conditions historically associated with great wines more frequent in Bordeaux and Burgundy, a study finds. But things look less bright for California vineyards.

For Tokyo’s Famed Fish Market, A Dreaded Death And A Hopeful Rebirth
As the 2020 Summer Olympics loom in Japan, the 80-year-old Tsukiji is moving to more modern facilities across the Bay. But sellers are worried about the accessibility and safety of the new location.

Tokyo’s Famous Fish Market To Get A New Home
Tsukiji Market, one of the most popular tourist spots in Tokyo, is moving. The cultural landmark is where most of Tokyo — and even high end sushi joints in Hong Kong and San Francisco — get their fish.

Nowruz: Persian New Year’s Table Celebrates Spring Deliciously
This ancient festival marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the rebirth of nature. And naturally, it has a lot to do with fresh, green foods just beginning to poke out of the ground.

In California, Poisonous Death Cap Mushrooms Are The Forager’s Bane
Death caps, which grow throughout California, can easily be confused for edible mushrooms. But just one of these unassuming, greenish shrooms contains enough poison to kill someone.

Gigi The Cow Broke The Milk Production Record. Is That Bad For Cows?
Cows are being bred to be larger, hungrier, and more productive. But this drive to raise ever-larger, hulking Holsteins has some prominent livestock advocates ringing alarm bells.

‘City Of Gold,’ Patchwork Of Cultures: A Tour Of LA’s Food Scene
Pulitzer Prize-winner Jonathan Gold is as much a culinary anthropologist and cultural philosopher as he is a food critic. A new documentary follows him across Los Angeles.

Guinness Tells Beer Drinkers: Keep Your Head And Embrace The ‘Stache
The folks at Guinness have a polite request: Don’t slurp the foamy head off their beer. It’s essentially a nitrogen cap, they say, that’s protecting the flavors underneath from being oxidized.

2 Breakfasts May Be Better Than None For School Kids
A study looked at students who ate breakfast at school versus those who ate at home, at both places, or not at all. One of these groups had a higher risk of obesity, and it’s not the one you’d think.

Feast Like It’s 399: What Would St. Patrick Eat?
The patron saint of Ireland was born to high status in Britain, then stolen away by pirates as a teen. It’s a life story with plenty of fodder to cook up an unexpected, historically inspired menu.

How Potent Is That Pot Brownie? Dry Ice And A Blender Might Crack The Case
Too much THC can land you in the hospital. But testing pastries and candies made with marijuana also can gum up lab equipment. One group of scientists thinks they’ve got a solution.

Senate Blocks Bill To Create Voluntary National Standards For Labeling GMOs
The Senate failed to pass legislation on Wednesday that would have created national, voluntary standards for labeling genetically modified foods or GMOs. A coalition of environmentalists and chefs that favor mandatory labeling of GMOs applauded the action, but an industry group, the Corn Refiners Association, says it’s concerned by the Senate’s move.

Bill That Would Block States From Mandating GMO Labels Stalls In Senate
The bill would have created a national voluntary labeling standard — and prevented Vermont’s mandatory labeling law from going into effect July 1. Lawmakers are still working on a deal.

Battle Hymn At The Dining Table: A Famous Feminist Subjugated Through Food
Julia Ward Howe wrote the Civil War psalm The Battle Hymn of the Republic. She was adrift in a lonely war of her own, against a husband who controlled every aspect of her life, including what she ate.

A B-Side With Your Bacon? Waffle House Has Its Own Music Label
The yellow-roofed chain diners, ubiquitous in the South, don’t just serve up comfort food. Jukeboxes inside play tunes like “There Are Raisins In My Toast” – courtesy of Waffle Records. No joke.

These 27 Solutions Could Help The U.S. Slash Food Waste
The U.S. wastes 133 billion pounds of food annually. Cutting that by 50 percent by 2020 is going to take a serious action plan. A new data-driven report ranks approaches that could get the job done.

Corned Beef, Guinness And … Blaa? The Irish Bread You Never Knew About
For an authentically Irish St. Patrick’s Day meal, why not give the blaa a try? This roll from the town of Waterford is a protected Irish food heritage product, and the subject of fierce allegiances.

Even Astronauts Get The Blues: Or Why Boredom Drives Us Nuts
We’ve all been there: bored in class, bored at work, bored in standstill traffic. But why do we find boredom so unbearable? Hidden Brain investigates – hopefully, without boring you.

Can ‘Slow Fish’ Help Save America’s Small-Scale Fishermen?
An event in New Orleans this weekend highlighted the wealth of seafood the Americas have to offer — and the endangered state of the small fishers who catch it.

The Science Behind Baking Your Perfect Pie (Happy Pi Day)
Great pumpkin pie is elusive. You could end up with a soggy crust or a grainy filling. Reporter Maanvi Singh embarked on a months-long quest to crack the code for the ideal pie.

Canine Or Cuisine? This Photo Meme Is Fetching
Chihuahua or muffin? Labradoodle or fried chicken? These are the gnawing questions raised by the latest food images dogging the Internet. So we bit.

Gastronomy Of Genius: History’s Great Minds, And The Foods that Fueled Them
From Pythagoras to Balzac, Darwin to Marie Curie, many a genius was inspired by certain edibles, repulsed by others — or had some very peculiar dining habits.

White House Chef To Serve Canadian Poutine At State Dinner
The Obama White House is hosting a state dinner on Thursday in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On the menu is a variation on poutine, a late-night favorite of Quebec. NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with Na’eem Adam, co-founder of Poutine Week in Canada.

Florida Tomato Pickers Become Part Of Democratic Debate
The fight to improve wages for Florida’s tomato pickers hit the national stage over the past week, both in a Bernie Sanders campaign video and last night’s debate in Miami.

This Plastic-Eating Bacterium Might Help Deal With Waste One Day
Scientists found a new species of bacteria in the debris around a Japanese recycling plant. With the help of two plastic digesting enzymes, it can eat plastic and use it as a main food source.

The Forgotten History Of Fat Men’s Clubs
These clubs of the late 19th and early 20th century were spectacular celebrations of wealth and girth. At their gatherings, networking and eating — a lot of it – were on the menu.

Chew On This: Slicing Meat Helped Shape Modern Humans
Long before cooking was common, early humans needed extra energy to fuel bigger bodies and brains. Scientists say simple stone cutting tools likely allowed small-toothed meat eaters to thrive.

Some Of Life’s Best Lessons Can Be Found In ‘Lousy’ Kitchen Jobs
Commentator Rachael Cusick says one of her first jobs — a maddening summer stint as a breakfast line cook — may seem irrelevant on her resume, but it gave her valuable experience to last a lifetime.

How In Trouble Are Bluefin Tuna, Really? Controversial Study Makes Waves
A study suggests Atlantic bluefin, prized for its buttery flesh, may breed younger, and in more places, than once thought — and it may be time to rethink fishing quotas. Not so fast, critics argue.

Tests Say The Water Is Safe. But Flint’s Restaurants Still Struggle
The tap draws from Lake Huron. Eatery owners have bought ice, bottles and expensive filters. Large signs in windows post lead-free test results. But diners in this Michigan city are still leery.

Cold War, Hot Tea: Nancy Reagan And Raisa Gorbachev’s Sipping Summit
In 1985, while their husbands discussed nuclear disarmament, the two first ladies — both considered influential advisers — held their own tense tea tête-à-têtes in Geneva.

From Ugly To Hip: Misfit Fruits And Veggies Coming To Whole Foods
Lots of tasty and nutritious produce ends up in landfills because it fails to meet retail beauty standards. Now, Whole Foods and Giant Eagle say they’re ready to pilot sales of these wonky edibles.

Pre-Peeled Oranges: What Some Call ‘Lazy’ Others Call A ‘Lifesaver’
A photo of Whole Foods’ plastic-packaged peeled oranges went viral on Twitter, prompting outrage about environmental waste. Who the heck needs this? People with disabilities say they do.

Urban Farms Fuel Idealism. Profits? Not So Much
Raising crops in the city has become a trend, yet earning a living at it is tough, a survey finds. But many urban farmers are in it for other reasons, like addressing hunger and building community.

Prague’s Franken-Cone Finds A Way To Bring Ice Cream And Doughnuts Together
There’s a new doughnut in town — or wait, is it an ice cream cone? It’s both! The tredelnikis a donut like pastry made into a cone, and filled with ice cream. It’s all the rage in Prague.

Rwanda Tries To Persuade Its Citizens To Drink The Coffee They Grow
While the country is renowned for its high-quality Arabica Bourbon beans, both cost and culture have kept Rwandans from imbibing one of their top cash crops. The government wants to that to change.

Second Study Affirms New Thinking About Peanut Allergies In Kids
A second big study affirms new thinking: early exposure to peanuts — beginning in infancy — reduces the risk of developing a peanut allergy. And this peanut tolerance holds up as kids get older.

Peanut Mush In Infancy Cuts Allergy Risk. New Study Adds To Evidence
A second big study affirms new thinking: Exposing high-risk kids to peanuts beginning in infancy reduces the chance of developing a peanut allergy. This peanut tolerance holds up as kids get older.

Action On A National GMO Labeling Measure Heats Up On Capitol Hill
Congress is scrambling to piece together a national standard for labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients before July 1. That’s when Vermont’s mandatory labeling law kicks in.

How Free Are USDA Scientists To Speak Their Mind?
Jonathan Lundgren’s research pointed out problems with popular pesticides. He says that message — and the messenger — were unwelcome at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

The SNAP Gap: Benefits Aren’t Enough To Keep Many Recipients Fed
About 23 million American households rely on SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. But nearly one-third of them still have to visit a food pantry to keep themselves fed, according to USDA data.

With Economy Stuck In The Mud, Farmers Sink Deeper Into Debt
As farm income plummets, more producers are taking on outside jobs and borrowing from banks just to get by. But economists say the U.S. isn’t yet repeating the farm crisis of the 1970s and ’80s.

Sleep Munchies: Why It’s Harder To Resist Snacks When We’re Tired
A new study finds that too little sleep boosts a signal in the body that may drive a stronger desire to eat. It’s the latest evidence linking sleep deprivation to overeating and increased body weight.

Slice The Price Of Fruits And Veggies, Save 200,000 Lives?
We know eating more produce is good for your heart. Now computer models suggest slashing their price by about a third could results in dramatically lower death rates from heart disease and stroke.

Doctors In Flint, Mich., Push A Healthy Diet To Fight Lead Exposure
Even low levels of lead in children can cause learning or behavioral problems, the CDC says. But foods packed with calcium, iron and vitamin C can help reduce the absorption of lead in kids.

In An Unusual Move, The EPA Tries To Pull A Pesticide From Market
The pesticide got “conditional” approval just eight years ago, but the EPA now says it could poison fish. The move is raising hope among activists who want the EPA to regulate pesticides more tightly.

Is Nutritious Food In Peril, Along With Pollinators?
A U.N.-sponsored report warns that disappearing pollinators, such as bees, could cut production of healthful foods like fruits and nuts. But the degree of damage is mostly a matter of speculation.

Why This German City Has Banned Coffee Pods In Government Buildings
Hamburg officials say single-use pods waste resources and aren’t always recyclable. The city is believed to be the world’s first to oust the capsules from schools, offices and other institutions.

Denmark’s New Grocer Is Selling Expired Food, And It’s A Hit
Shoppers are flocking to a Copenhagen supermarket hawking perfectly edible but unsalable food items at a steep discount to the general public. It’s the country’s latest effort to fight food waste.

Starbucks Plans First Store In Italy, ‘With Humility And Respect’
The Milan store will be operated by Italian developer Antonio Percassi, who admits that opening a coffee shop in Italy will be “a unique challenge.”

Herring Headache: The Big Obstacles To Eating Small Fish In California
Chefs and environmentalists have been promoting the benefits of eating fish lower down the food chain. But San Francisco’s herring fishery shows some of the challenges to spreading that message.

Thin Mint Mashup: Grind Those Girl Scout Cookies Into Cheesecake
Many of us cheer Girl Scout season, but after plowing through several sleeves of Samoas, fatigue can set in. Here, Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful, offers recipes meant to rekindle the cookie love.

Eat Less Meat, We’re Told. But Americans’ Habits Are Slow To Change
Health and environmental advocates say Americans need to cut back on meat. But are we listening? A new survey suggests we’re shifting our diets ever so slightly.

When Beef Is Off Limits, Beaver And Muskrat Make It To Lenten Menu
Medieval theologians used to distinguish between land vs. water creatures, not mammals vs. fish. That’s good enough for some restaurants — and parishes — in places with large Catholic populations.

Inside The Anonymous World Of Caffeine
Millions want caffeine removed from their coffee. Millions more want caffeine added to their soda. Little-known caffeine factories, scattered across the world, satisfy both desires.

Why Your Hamburger Might Be Leading To Nitrogen Pollution
Many farmers who grow corn and soybeans to feed livestock use too much nitrogen fertilizer, which can cause a host of environmental problems. To fix them, scientists say we should eat less meat.

Should Sprouts Come With A Warning Label?
Over 20 people have been sickened in two new outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to alfalfa sprouts. For something many deem a “health food,” sprouts continue to be a vexing food-safety challenge.

Judge Rules NYC Can Require Sodium Warnings On Restaurant Menus
A state judge ruled Wednesday that New York City health officials can enforce a requirement for chain restaurants to inform consumers which menu items have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium.

‘Slumdog’ Cuisine: Cookbook Explores Recipes From India’s Working Class
The Indecisive Chicken combines the recipes and life stories of eight women from communities across India who now make their home in Dharavi, a teeming slum made famous bySlumdog Millionaire.

When Britain Fought Against The Tyranny Of Tea Breaks
British tea drinking is on the decline. U.K. leaders might have welcomed such news in the 1970s, when the length of the tea break became a major point of political contention.

Alabama Fast Food Workers Rally To Defend City’s Wage Hike
The Birmingham City Council approved a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, but some state legislators want to block it. A coalition representing low-wage workers is trying to defend the Birmingham bill.

‘Save The Fleet, Eat Less Wheat’: The Patriotic History Of Ditching Bread
Finding bread alternatives may seem like a thoroughly modern obsession. But, during both world wars, consumers were urged to give up their white bread habit for the national good.

Lo Mein Loophole: How U.S. Immigration Law Fueled A Chinese Restaurant Boom
In the early 20th century, the Chinese faced draconian immigration rules. But owners of a few types of businesses could get special visas. In 1915, restaurants got on that list. The rest is history.

First U.S. Factory OK’d For Cuba Aims To Plow Path Into The 21st Century
Two businessmen — one of whom was born in Cuba — have been granted permission to build the first U.S. factory on the island nation since 1960. They plan to produce small tractors for Cuban farmers.

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