Food & Drink

John McGrath/Hale Center for Journalism

Jennifer Brdar’s dream job was to be a meat inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, watching out for unwary consumers and making sure the meat on their dinner tables was clean and disease-free.

After earning an associate’s degree in meat science, Brdar was hired in March as a temporary federal meat inspector at a big beef packing operation just up the road in Liberal, Kan.

She lasted barely a month, walking away in frustration.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Local food is no longer just a novelty. Farmers markets are growing nationwide and farms that sell directly to consumers brought in $1.3 billion in 2012, up eight percent from just five years earlier. Despite the demand, making local food work in some places is decidedly more difficult than others. Steamboat Springs, Colo., is one of those places.

Problem number one is infrastructure.

Bottoms up! A new Iowa made whiskey will soon hit the shelves.

You may have noticed when grilling steaks or hot dogs this summer that they cost more than they did last year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pork and beef prices are up more than 11 percent since last summer.

Supply and demand determine price, and the pork supply comes from places like Riley Lewis' hog farm near Forest City, Iowa.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

For Phil Cummings, Iowa Farm Bureau Cook Off State Fair Barbeque Grand Champion, barbecuing is a family affair. 

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Insects can be a great source of protein, and in many parts of the world, people gobble them up.

But here in the United States, a certain “ick factor” has kept consumers from eating crickets, locusts and mealworms. To combat the ickiness and convert skeptical consumers, bug-food advocates are trying a specific marketing tactic: be clever and cute.

J. Stephen Conn

In this segment of River to River, we discuss the situation in the Northwest Iowa town of Cherokee, home to about 5000 Iowans.

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During prohibition, there were people all over the United States making and selling spirits, but the people in Templeton, Iowa who were making fine whiskey were not your run of the mill bootleggers.  Host Charity Nebbe digs in to the remarkable history of Templeton Rye with Bryce Bauer, author of Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots and historian Tim Walch.  They talk about why Iowa went dry five years before the rest of the country and how this small town set

Chef Camp Teaches Basics of Food Production

Jul 2, 2014
Sean Powers for Harvest Public Media

With farm to table restaurants springing up left and right, cooks are having to go beyond the grocery store. That’s why about a dozen chefs from Chicago and central Illinois recently gathered for a two-day crash course on where their food comes from – the farm.

Emily Woodbury

The battle surrounding meat and livestock production ranks among the longest-waged and hardest fought in American history. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with historian and author, Maureen Ogle. Her new book is titled In Meat We Trust.

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Earlier this week, there was confusion about whether or not the FDA would ban the practice of aging cheese on wooden boards. Cheesemakers were outraged at the claim that aging cheese on wood could be unsafe due to the bacteria that could grow on the porous wood.

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Iowa brewer and author Jay Wilson first gained notoriety for his all-beer lenten fast.  Now he's back with a guide to help beer enthusiasts navigate Iowa's brewery boom.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about his book, Iowa Pints due out June 12th.

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Host Ben Kieffer talks with Seattle, Washington food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who represented some of those sickened in a 2010 salmonella outbreak caused by contaminated eggs.  This week a settlement was reached with Quality Egg and two of its top executives, Jack and Peter DeCoster.  Marler says Jack DeCoster comes to the court with a "checkered past," that could make jail time more likely in this case.

Everyone knows you can grow black walnuts in Iowa.  But, there are actually a lot of other nuts we can grow too, and some of them may surprise you.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jeff Jensen of Trees Forever, and Tom Wahl of Red Fern Farm in Wapello about hickory nuts, pecans, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and more.  Horticulturist Richard Jauron answers non-nut related questions.

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Just who’s to blame for the childhood obesity epidemic? Over the years, the finger has been pointed at parents, video games and vending machines, to name a few.

To the makers of the new activist documentary, “Fed Up,” the bottom line of blame lies with a simple substance poured into our diets every day: sugar. And the pushers of what this film calls a drug and “the new tobacco” are the food industry and our own government.

“What if our whole approach to this epidemic has been dead wrong?” the film’s narrator, TV journalist Katie Couric, says in the film’s open.

El Photography and Design

If you drink whiskey, and if you eat pork, you’ve probably come to understand them as a pretty good pairing. Scott Bush, President and Founder of Templeton Rye Whiskey in Templeton, Iowa, says he's always enjoyed the combination. Recently, he's taken it one step further.

Katherine Perkins / IPR

Pie.  Everyone loves to eat it, but when it comes to making it a lot of us would rather leave that to the professionals.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The smell of baking dinner rolls fills the kitchen at Decorah High School in northeast Iowa. As two kitchen workers mix a fresh broccoli salad, another, Chad Elliott, ladles tomato soup from a large metal pot on the stove into white plastic buckets for delivery to the town’s elementary schools.

Elliott says most of the food served in the district is made from scratch and many ingredients come from local farms and dairies.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Farm stands and farmers markets remain really important for many local farmers, but U.S. consumers barely buy any food directly from farms. That’s why local farmers are trying to crack in to the big institutional markets such as grocery stores, work cafeterias, schools and hospitals.

Amy Mayer/IPR

As Food Corps service member Ashley Turk navigates her way through a brand-new greenhouse in the courtyard at Waukon High School in the northeast corner of Iowa, she points to a robust supply of red and green lettuce leaves growing neatly in rows.

“It’s huge,” she says. “We cut it off and it just keeps growing.”

The greenhouse lettuce is among the offerings in the school’s salad bar. And students will soon be growing carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables, Turks says.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media file photo

Food doesn’t just come from a grocery store. Millions of farmers spend their lives producing the crops and raising the livestock that we eat and use.

So it makes sense: If you’re interested in what’s on your plate, you’re interested in what’s going on in the field.

With that in mind, here are four things you should know about today’s food system:

The new farm bill became law in February

Peter Gray/Harvest Public Meeting

Farmers are making inroads supplying local food to hungry city foodies, but many producers are trying to grow more food inurban centers. City real estate is at a premium, so some producers are finding more space by using what’s called “vertical farming,” and going up rather than spreading out.

Growers across the country are heading indoors, using greenhouses and hydroponics – growing plants in a water and nutrient solution instead of soil and using lamps to replace sunlight. Vertical farming takes that to a new level.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

 

Nebraska hog farmers aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a proposal that would allow meatpacking companies more control over the state’s hog industry. And farmers all over the country are watching.

Currently, a 1998 state law bans meatpacking companies from owning and raising the hogs the process. But lawmakers have proposed an end to the ban, which would allow for more vertical integration of the hog industry.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Before the chefs do battle at Iowa Public Radio’s Battle of the Chefs they sit down with host Charity Nebbe to talk about the food and recipes that inspire them. Chefs Sam Auen of Tacopocalypse, Le Jardin's Tag Grandgeorge, The Des Moines Embassy Club West's Michael Bailey and Tawnya Zerr from Cupcake Emporium join the show.

http://terrywahls.com/

She was a marathoner and a mountain climber, but when Dr. Terry Wahls was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she faced a bedridden life.

This hour, we learn how she beat progressive MS.

Peter Gray/Harvest Public Meeting

A virus that has devastated piglets for nearly a year is now responsible for lower pork supplies and higher prices.

Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill. knows first hand what happens when porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus infects a hog barn. He walked through one in late January pointing out the differences among litters.

Monastery Candy

Feb 14, 2014
Monastery Candy

Iowa is home to many talented chocolatiers and a number of them live in a place that might surprise you. Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey is a cloistered monastic community of Trappistine nuns near Dubuque. 

Tuukka Koski / Little, Brown and Company

THE MAST BROTHERS' RED WINE BONBONS

A full-bodied red wine works best here, as it won't be overpowered by the dark chocolate.  Try a Criollo-heavy chocolate with notes of dark fruit, like Madagascar.

 GANACHE

  • Heavy cream, 1/2 cup
  • Dark chocolate, 6 ounces, chopped
  • Red wine, 2 ounces (just over 1/3 cup)
  • Unsalted butter, 1 tabled spoon

COATING

  • Dark chocolate, 8 ounces, melted and tempered

Make the Ganache

Tuukka Koski / Little, Brown and Company

Every year for Valentine's Day Americans spend over $1 billion on chocolate. Host Charity Nebbe speaks with some of Iowa's finest chocolatiers from Chocolaterie Stam, Chocolate Storybook, and Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey.

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