WBEZ | Food http://www.wbez.org/tags/food Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en For Expats In Afghanistan, A Cranberry Dish To Relish Far From Home http://www.wbez.org/news/expats-afghanistan-cranberry-dish-relish-far-home-113932 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/2015-11-19-stamberg-cranberry-0101edit_custom-240b41bdd4ec2945c640e631bf7b0aa429df73e7-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456697268" previewtitle="Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/2015-11-19-stamberg-cranberry-0101edit_custom-240b41bdd4ec2945c640e631bf7b0aa429df73e7-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 620px;" title="Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. (Ariel Zambelich &amp; Emily Bogle/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: For more years than we can remember, the Friday before Thanksgiving has meant that NPR&#39;s Susan Stamberg would try to sneak a notorious and, yes, weird family recipe into NPR&#39;s coverage. And 2015 is no exception. Here&#39;s Susan.</em></p></div></div></div><p>I recently learned about a long ago and faraway Thanksgiving in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2011, at the height of the military surge, hundreds of Americans &mdash; soldiers and civilians &mdash; were coming into the country. Ann Exline Starr of the U.S. Agency for International Development, was on a team trying to suss out fraud, waste and abuse in government contracts. She says security at the embassy compound was tight.</p><p>&quot;You had to go under the road to get to the USAID offices, and we were actually in a bunker,&quot; Exline Starr says.</p><p>Pretty grim. For Thanksgiving, she organized a potluck dinner in her apartment. With all the Americans in Kabul, Exline Starr says, she was lucky to&nbsp;be&nbsp;in an apartment. She had previously lived in a &quot;hooch&quot; &mdash; a containerized housing unit. It&#39;s literally a tin container &mdash; 10-by-15 &mdash; with a bed, a desk, a chair. &quot;We were thinking about starting a magazine like&nbsp;Better Hooches and Gardens&nbsp;or something,&quot; she jokes.</p><div id="res456712380"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>It was bad enough to be away from home, in a war zone, in a hooch. But at Thanksgiving? &quot;You know, Thanksgiving is such a family holiday that we tried to make it fun,&quot; Exline Starr recalls.</p><p>So she invited about 100 people for dinner. Jonathan Terra was among those who attended. He was in Kabul doing a media campaign about USAID for Afghan radio and television. He hadn&#39;t been there long and didn&#39;t know that many people &mdash; his family was far away.</p><p>&quot;Suddenly, these people you didn&#39;t know very well became your family for a day,&quot; he says.</p><p>And your potluck holiday dinner was as close to the real thing as you could get it. Local markets were too dangerous to visit, so you&#39;d nab carrots and celery from the embassy dining room. Other stuff, too &mdash; cranberry relish, for instance. That came courtesy of Andrew Hyde.</p><p>&quot;Of course, for many years I&#39;ve heard about a certain cranberry relish recipe that I thought about,&quot; Hyde says.</p><div id="res456786660"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&quot;Wait a minute,&quot; I ask. &quot;You thought about Mama Stamberg&#39;s cranberry relish in Kabul, Afghanistan?&quot;</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s right,&quot; he says.</p><p>Hyde, a Foreign Service officer, was working with provincial governments and living in a hooch surrounded by sandbags for protection against a direct hit. He sets the scene:</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m not in an apartment &mdash; I can&#39;t bake anything. I&#39;m not that great a cook.&quot; But Mama Stamberg&#39;s cranberry relish, he says, &quot;could save the day.&quot; Not everyone was equally enthused.</p><p>&quot;When I mentioned it to somebody, they said, &#39;Is that all you&#39;re going to offer?&#39; &quot; Hyde recalls.</p><p>But, Jonathan Terra vouches, the end result was &quot;very good.&quot;</p><p>Finding the ingredients necessary was somewhat tricky, Hyde says. Sugar was readily available, as were onions. But the three-quarter cups of sour cream? Not so easy &mdash; though eventually he found some in a small convenience store on the embassy compound. The hardest part, Hyde says, was the 2 cups of raw cranberry the recipe calls for.</p><p>&quot;That was actually the single biggest challenge,&quot; he says. Somebody suggested substituting pomegranates. Instead, he found cranberry jelly&nbsp;(groan)&nbsp;in the embassy dining room &mdash; which also came to the rescue with the horseradish. (Someone had suggested substituting curry, Hyde says.)</p><p>The dining room, he says, &quot;actually had a horseradish sauce. So I took a little plastic container and filled up. It wasn&#39;t the way I know Mama Stamberg would appreciate, but it worked.&quot;</p><p>He couldn&#39;t freeze it (the recipe calls for that). So it was served mushy-soupy. And the color was a bit off &mdash; not the traditional bright pink (OK, Pepto Bismol pink, as some cruels have called it.) The Kabul Mama Stamberg&#39;s was more bubble gum pink. But they liked it!</p><p>In Afghanistan, Jonathan Terra says, it was the taste of home. &quot;Because cranberries are difficult to get abroad, when you have them, it&#39;s extra special,&quot; he says. &quot;This is the kind of thing that brings you back to being back home with your family. It&#39;s the sight and smell of cranberries. It just doesn&#39;t exist anywhere else &mdash; cranberry is something that makes us think of being home.&quot;</p><p>This year, in the U.S. or Afghanistan or wherever the holiday finds you, have a great Thanksgiving.</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Mama Stamberg&#39;s Cranberry Relish</span></strong></p><blockquote><p>2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed</p><p>1 small onion</p><p>3/4 cup sour cream</p><p>1/2 cup sugar</p><p>2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (&quot;red is a bit milder than white&quot;)</p><p>Grind the raw berries and onion together. (&quot;I use an old-fashioned meat grinder,&quot; says Stamberg. &quot;I&#39;m sure there&#39;s a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind &mdash; not a puree.&quot;)</p><p>Add everything else and mix.</p><p>Put in a plastic container and freeze.</p><p>Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (&quot;It should still have some little icy slivers left.&quot;)</p><p>The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. (&quot;OK, Pepto Bismol pink. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. It&#39;s also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.&quot;)</p><p>Makes 1 1/2 pints.</p></blockquote></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/expats-afghanistan-cranberry-dish-relish-far-home-113932 Premium, Young And Natural: The Turkey Labels We Cluck-Cluck Over http://www.wbez.org/news/premium-young-and-natural-turkey-labels-we-cluck-cluck-over-113931 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/turkeylabel1small-20167402ee4463d2d75a28d16c0e95bed248cad0.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456509177" previewtitle="&quot;Free-range&quot; turkeys at Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Md., in November 2014. In some cases, turkeys labeled &quot;free-range&quot; roam freely on a farm. But in the vast majority spend most of their time in crowded houses, consumer advocates say."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="&quot;Free-range&quot; turkeys at Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Md., in November 2014. In some cases, turkeys labeled &quot;free-range&quot; roam freely on a farm. But in the vast majority spend most of their time in crowded houses, consumer advocates say." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/18/freerangeturkeys_custom-29a1348c257ac2d6fcb709339028d89cc25928f6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 409px; width: 620px;" title="&quot;Free-range&quot; turkeys at Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Md., in November 2014. In some cases, turkeys labeled &quot;free-range&quot; roam freely on a farm. But in the vast majority spend most of their time in crowded houses, consumer advocates say. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>You&#39;re at the grocery store, shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. You&#39;ve grabbed sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cans of pumpkin. If you&#39;re from the Midwest like I am, you&#39;re also gearing up for green bean casserole.</p></div></div></div><p>But when you approach a refrigerated section of the store piled high with turkeys, you&#39;re suddenly inundated with labels: natural, fresh, no hormones, young, premium and so on. Pretty soon, your head is spinning, so you grab the nearest one. As you head to the checkout line, you wonder if you&#39;ve just made an ethical choice or been duped.

</p><p>This scenario has become part of the Thanksgiving experience for many shoppers. If you&#39;re like me, you may have told yourself that, someday, you&#39;ll learn what all those labels actually mean. Well, today is that day. Because this is your guide to the utterly confusing world of turkey labels &mdash; a glossary for the wannabe informed Thanksgiving shopper.


What you might think it means:&nbsp;The turkey was slaughtered this morning (or maybe yesterday) and was rushed to my local grocery store, where consumers like me will taste the difference!

</p><div id="res456504555" previewtitle="A Butterball turkey for sale in November 2014, in Centreville, Va. Terms like &quot;premium&quot; and &quot;raised without hormones&quot; tell you little about the quality of the turkey or how it was raised."><div><div><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;&quot;Fresh&quot; has nothing to do with the time between slaughter and sale. Instead, it means that the turkey has not been cooled to below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it was never frozen. Above 26 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat can remain pliant &mdash; you can press it in with your thumb.</p></div></div></div><p><strong>Young

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means: This bird was killed at a younger age than most turkeys and is therefore more tender and delicious. Maybe it also suffered less.
</p><p>What it actually means: The bird was likely killed at the same age as most other turkeys. According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.goodfoodjobs.com/blog/daisy-freund-senior-manager-farm-animal-welfare-american-society-for-the-prevention-of-cruelty-to-animals/">Daisy Freund</a>, an animal welfare certification expert at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, most commercial turkeys are slaughtered at 16 to 18 weeks, compared to the roughly 10 years turkeys live in the wild. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not define &quot;young&quot; for turkeys, but it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/larc/Policies/Labeling_Policy_Book_082005.pdf">requires</a>&nbsp;that turkeys that lived more than a year be labeled as &quot;yearling&quot; or &quot;mature.&quot;</p><p><strong>Natural

</strong></p><p><img alt="A Butterball turkey for sale in November 2014, in Centreville, Va. Terms like &quot;premium&quot; and &quot;raised without hormones&quot; tell you little about the quality of the turkey or how it was raised." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/18/turkeylabel1small_custom-a25017d6d96cd1be0cb4cb26391a66b3e5c31c7c-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 315px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="A Butterball turkey for sale in November 2014, in Centreville, Va. Terms like &quot;premium&quot; and &quot;raised without hormones&quot; tell you little about the quality of the turkey or how it was raised. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty) " /></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;The turkeys have been raised in a &quot;natural&quot; environment, wandering around in the woods or on a farm, scavenging food and gobble-gobbling their cares away.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/2a9bcae8-ae1e-4248-9ce7-4e752f2f91fc/Turkey_Raised_by_the_Rules.pdf?MOD=AJPERES">U.S. Department of Agriculture</a>, it means no artificial ingredients have been added to the turkey meat, and the meat is only minimally processed. But&nbsp;<a href="http://consumersunion.org/experts/urvashi-rangan/">Urvashi Rangan</a>, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, says the term isn&#39;t helpful at all. &quot;It has nothing to do with whether the turkeys got antibiotics every day, were living in filthy conditions or were confined indoors,&quot; she says. Her organization is campaigning against the use of the term, which they feel misleads consumers. The Food and Drug Administration also has admitted it&#39;s a challenge to define the term and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/11/455506222/whats-natural-food-the-government-isnt-sure-and-wants-your-input">just asked</a>&nbsp;the public for help.

</p><div id="res456504590"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>On that note, let&#39;s pause for a minute to answer a basic question &mdash; how exactly are most turkeys in the U.S. raised?

</p><p>&quot;The vast majority of turkeys are living in crowded houses &mdash; football field-sized sheds that are entirely enclosed &mdash; by the tens of thousands,&quot; says the ASPCA&#39;s Freund. 

She says the 30-pound birds typically have their beaks cut to prevent them from injuring or killing one another, and are allotted an average of two square feet of space. &quot;It&#39;s like living your entire life in Times Square on New Year&#39;s Eve,&quot; she says.</p><p>Meanwhile, Freund says, manure often piles up beneath the birds, and ammonia hangs thick in the air. Many turkeys are routinely given&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/11/26/247377377/did-your-thanksgiving-turkey-take-any-antibiotics">antibiotics</a>&nbsp;to prevent them from getting sick. Plus, modern turkeys have been selectively bred to mature quickly and have extremely large breasts (for more white meat). Many have trouble standing and are incapable of having sex &mdash; their large chests get in the way, Freund says.</p><p>To be clear, turkey producers must still meet basic safety standards and the meat should be safe. But terms like &quot;natural&quot; may be misleading consumers about how the birds are actually raised.</p><p>Let&#39;s look at a few more dubious labels.


</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;These turkeys roam freely on a farm, pecking at the lush grass and getting more exercise than I do.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;In some cases (on some small farms), it does mean what you&#39;re picturing. But Rangan says in the vast majority of cases, &quot;free-range&quot; turkeys are raised in the standard, crowded houses. The only difference, she says, is that these birds must have &quot;access to the outdoors.&quot;</p><p>But the word &quot;access&quot; is broadly used. &quot;If the animal never even went outdoors, but you sort of opened and closed the door every day, that would suffice to label the bird as &#39;free-range,&#39; &quot; she says.</p><p><strong>Cage</strong>-<strong>Free

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This turkey had a better life than most, because at least it wasn&#39;t stuffed into a tiny cage.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;This turkey&#39;s life was probably the same as most, because turkeys are not raised in cages. The conventional practice &mdash; which accounts for well over 95 percent of all commercial turkeys, according to ASPCA &mdash; is to raise them in open houses. So, calling a turkey cage-free is sort of like calling a cantaloupe cage-free.

</p><p><strong>Premium</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This turkey is a higher grade of meat, and is more delicious and healthy.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;Basically, nothing. The USDA grades beef cuts with words like &quot;prime,&quot; &quot;choice&quot; and &quot;select,&quot; but premium is not one of their designations and these graded terms are not used for poultry anyway.

 A company can label any kind of turkey as &quot;premium.&quot;</p><p><strong>No Hormones Added</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This bird is healthier than most because it wasn&#39;t pumped full of the hormones that turn some turkeys into the Incredible Hulk.
</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;Once again, this term is misleading. By USDA law, turkeys (and other poultry) are not allowed to be given growth hormones.</p><p><strong>Humane/Non-Certified Humane

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;Finally, a bird that has been raised according to an ethical set of principles. It was probably treated fairly and lived a decent life. Maybe it even got to kiss its loved ones goodbye.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;If there is no certifying agency, which there isn&#39;t for this term, the label is probably meaningless, says Rangan from Consumer Reports. That&#39;s because the USDA allows companies to come up with their own definition of &quot;humane&quot; and it gives its seal of approval if the company meets its own standards. In these cases, &quot;it probably just means they met the conventional baseline,&quot; says Rangan.</p><p>That&#39;s most of the virtually meaningless terms. Let&#39;s move on to some labels that have at least some significance.</p><p><strong>Kosher

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;The turkey was raised according to a stricter set of hygiene standards. It was probably kept cleaner and healthier. 

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;The turkey was probably raised in the same crowded house conditions as most turkeys. The only difference is that it was slaughtered according to a set of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.growandbehold.com/index.php?page=Kosher">kosher principles</a>.</p><p><strong>Vegetarian-Fed/Grain-Fed

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This turkey enjoyed a lush supply of greens and grains, replicating its natural diet.

</p><div id="res456504560"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;The bird probably ate what most turkeys eat: corn. But these birds have not had their diets supplemented with animal byproducts, which does happen in some settings. The irony, though, is that turkeys are not natural vegetarians. In the wild, they eat a variety of bugs and worms, along with grass and other plants.

</p><p><strong>Raised Without Antibiotics/No Antibiotics Administered</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;These birds were never given any antibiotics of any kind.</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;These birds were given drugs only if they were sick, but not for growth promotion, feed efficiency or to prevent disease.&nbsp;That means their producers are contributing less to the risk of antibiotic resistance and to &quot;superbugs&quot;&mdash; a serious health concern. However, Rangan suggests that consumers look for the USDA label with this term, to verify that the companies have been inspected. And she points out that the label does not mean the birds were raised in more sanitary conditions &mdash; only that they were not given routine antibiotics.</p><p><strong>Organic

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;These turkeys were raised on a steady diet of organic vegetables, green smoothies and Bikram yoga.</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;To meet the requirements for the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ams.usda.gov/about-ams/programs-offices/national-organic-program">USDA&#39;s Certified Organic program</a>, animals must have some access to the outdoors (though there&#39;s debate about whether or not most organic turkeys actually go outdoors), be fed only organic feed (non-GMO and grown without chemical pesticides) and must not be given antibiotic drugs on a routine basis. Rangan says organic conditions are &quot;significantly different&quot; from conventional conditions. And yet, she says, organic lags behind the conditions enjoyed by humanely raised birds.</p><p>Which brings us to the final section.</p><p>

There are three main organizations that have publicly available standards for &quot;humane&quot; treatment. Birds bearing these labels typically are granted real access to the outdoors, eat a diverse diet and have the opportunity to behave as they would in the wild. You can read more about the specific criteria by clicking on each name.</p><p><strong><a href="http://animalwelfareapproved.org/">Animal Welfare Approved

</a></strong></p><p>Turkeys with this label come from farms that have been audited at least once a year, and have met criteria for animal welfare, environmental protection and community well-being. According to its website, &quot;Provisions are made to ensure [the animals&#39;] social interaction, comfort, and physical and psychological well-being.&quot;

</p><p><strong><a href="http://certifiedhumane.org/">Certified Humane

</a></strong></p><p>This is also a label with clearly defined parameters for animal and environmental care. Its website says, &quot;The goal of the program is to improve the lives of farm animals by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices.&quot;

</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.globalanimalpartnership.org/">Global Animal Partnership, or GAP
</a></strong></p><p>This is a rating system with six different levels, ranging from less crowding (level one) to animals without clipped beaks spending their entire life on the same farm, with enhanced access to the outdoors
 (level five-plus).</p><p>To summarize, here&#39;s a cheat sheet:

</p><p>Labels that mean very little:&nbsp;Fresh, Young, Natural, Premium, Cage-Free, Free-Range, No Hormones Added, Humane (not certified or USDA certified)
</p><p>Labels that mean something specific:&nbsp;Kosher, Raised Without Antibiotics/No Antibiotics Administered, Vegetarian-Fed/Grain-Fed, Organic

</p><p>Labels that mean the birds were raised humanely: Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, GAP</p><p><em>Want more info? Check out Farm Forward&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://buyingpoultry.com/">poultry buying guide</a>&nbsp;released Nov. 18. Enjoy this story? Check out our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/12/23/370377902/farm-fresh-natural-eggs-not-always-what-they-re-cracked-up-to-be">guide to egg labels</a>.</em></p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/18/456414257/premium-young-and-natural-the-turkey-labels-we-cluck-cluck-over?ft=nprml&amp;f=456414257" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/premium-young-and-natural-turkey-labels-we-cluck-cluck-over-113931 We Tried A Futuristic Cranberry. It Was Fresh And Naturally Sweet http://www.wbez.org/news/we-tried-futuristic-cranberry-it-was-fresh-and-naturally-sweet-113930 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/12287209_2489610403104_1228556333_o-a3a75413f95eaa79b7fc27f33a803b95ea66656d-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457267637" previewtitle="A bowl of Sweeties, an experimental cranberry variety that likely won't come to market for several years, if ever at all."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A bowl of Sweeties, an experimental cranberry variety that likely won't come to market for several years, if ever at all." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/12287209_2489610403104_1228556333_o-a3a75413f95eaa79b7fc27f33a803b95ea66656d-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="A bowl of Sweeties, an experimental cranberry variety that likely won't come to market for several years, if ever at all. (Angus Chen/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The last time you ate cranberry &ndash; perhaps as a dried snack, in a glass of juice or as a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/20/456696688/for-ex-pats-in-afghanistan-a-cranberry-dish-to-relish-far-from-home">saucy condiment</a>&nbsp;with the Thanksgiving turkey &ndash; it was likely paired with sugar, and a lot of it. A cup of cranberry juice may be packed with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/11/28/247574168/why-we-give-thanks-for-the-health-benefits-of-cranberries">antioxidants</a>, but it has about 30 grams (or 7.5 teaspoons) of sugar. You&#39;ll get about 26 grams (or 6.5 teaspoons) of sugar in a cup of dried, sweetened cranberries.</p></div></div></div><p>Why are cranberries and sugar a seemingly inseparable pair? The typical fresh cranberry is an acrid thing to put on the tongue without sugar to balance it out.</p><p>But maybe it doesn&#39;t have to be that way. Cranberry breeders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed an experimental variety that&#39;s naturally sweet. It&#39;s called the &quot;Sweetie.&quot;</p><p>The cranberry breeding program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was created in the early 1990s to help growers produce better berries.&nbsp;<a href="http://experts.news.wisc.edu/experts/189">Brent McCown</a>, a biologist who helped found the program, says growers want berries that are larger, have a consistent red color and produce a reliable crop year after year. Flavor &mdash; and sweetness, in particular &mdash; have generally been an afterthought.</p><div id="res457271130">Nicole Hansen, a Wisconsin cranberry grower working with the university&#39;s breeders, says she wasn&#39;t expecting a sweet variety to come along. &quot;As a cranberry grower, you always hope that you&#39;ll find that [sweet] variety, but you&#39;re thinking cranberries are just too tart,&quot; she says. Then a few years ago, she was taste-testing experimental varieties grown by the university with another grower. &quot;And they said, &#39;You gotta taste this,&#39;&quot; Hansen says.</div><p>The berry handed to her was the Sweetie. &quot;I was excited ... it had a milder taste than most fresh cranberries,&quot; she says. It was so enticing that Hansen says she and other growers started dreaming of the day when they could grow the Sweetie or other similar varieties that people could eat fresh &ndash; like cherries.</p><div id="res457249623" previewtitle="Farmers harvest cranberries born from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's breeding program. The program has created a couple commercial varieties since it's inception."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Farmers harvest cranberries born from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's breeding program. The program has created a couple commercial varieties since it's inception." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/cranberry-jeff-miller-6afd03bb81e13de9e1f784e4edc699a193968e0c-s800-c85.jpg" title="Farmers harvest cranberries born from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's breeding program. The program has created a couple commercial varieties since it's inception. (Jeff Miller/University of Wisconsin-Madison)" /></div><div><div><p>We at <em>The Salt</em> had to try this mythical sweet cranberry. So we asked Hansen to send us some from the small batch she&#39;d grown.</p></div></div></div><p>The Sweetie is about half an inch wide and white on the inside. The skin is the color of red wine, and pops open when you bite in. The flavor is tart and faintly sweet, like a Granny Smith apple. It shares some of the aromas of a Granny Smith, too.</p><div id="res457277662"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>At NPR, the Sweetie received some mixed responses. One editor at the Science Desk ate one and then regarded the bowl of berries with disdain. &quot;It&#39;s supposed to be like a munching snack, like table grapes?&quot; he asked.</p><p>&quot;I think so,&quot; I said.</p><p>&quot;Never going to happen,&quot; he said.</p><p>Another editor lifted some Sweeties, skeptically, to his mouth. &quot;Wow. Yeah,&quot; he said and nodded in approval.</p><p>The jury may still be out in this office. But while the idea of snacking on fresh cranberries once seemed unimaginable, the Sweetie offers that with mild tartness and crisp texture. When there&#39;s nothing else to snack on, I&#39;ve been reaching for that bag of cranberries by my desk.</p><p>For McCown and&nbsp;<a href="http://horticulture.wisc.edu/faculty-and-staff-2/faculty-and-staff/name/juan-zalapa/">Juan Zalapa</a>, a geneticist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison&#39;s cranberry breeding program, the promise of a cranberry as sweet as a blueberry might lie somewhere in the cranberry genome. And if they can find it, breeding could move to develop a fresh cranberry that people would actually buy. &quot;It&#39;s just a matter of increasing that sugar level,&quot; Zalapa says.</p><p>For now, though, the researchers say the Sweetie isn&#39;t ready to leave the test beds. It&#39;s still in an experimental phase, and it might not ever go into production. But one of its descendants might one day be a fresh cranberry that you&#39;ll be snacking on at your desk &mdash; no sugar added.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/24/457247226/cranberry-you-could-eat-without-sugar?ft=nprml&amp;f=457247226" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/we-tried-futuristic-cranberry-it-was-fresh-and-naturally-sweet-113930 Behind Your Holiday Sweet Potato Dish, Hard Work In The Fields http://www.wbez.org/news/behind-your-holiday-sweet-potato-dish-hard-work-fields-113926 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sweetpotato-7_custom-06442e5cd01285c1aa65bfdfd5aa07273661d180-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457229878" previewtitle="Harvesting sweet potatoes: Workers sort the potatoes in the field, collecting small and large ones in different buckets. Each bucket weighs 30 pounds or so. A worker will shoulder that bucket and dump it into a flatbed truck 400 to 500 times a day. It's a daily load of six or seven tons of sweet potatoes."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Harvesting sweet potatoes: Workers sort the potatoes in the field, collecting small and large ones in different buckets. Each bucket weighs 30 pounds or so. A worker will shoulder that bucket and dump it into a flatbed truck 400 to 500 times a day. It's a daily load of six or seven tons of sweet potatoes." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/sweetpotato-7_custom-06442e5cd01285c1aa65bfdfd5aa07273661d180-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 426px; width: 620px;" title="Harvesting sweet potatoes: Workers sort the potatoes in the field, collecting small and large ones in different buckets. Each bucket weighs 30 pounds or so. A worker will shoulder that bucket and dump it into a flatbed truck 400 to 500 times a day. It's a daily load of six or seven tons of sweet potatoes. (Dan Charles/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>There&#39;s an oil painting on one wall in the cluttered room that serves as central headquarters of&nbsp;<a href="http://burchfarmsnc.com/">Burch Farms</a>, a large vegetable grower in Faison, N.C. The painting shows an African-American couple, the woman in a long, plain dress, the man in a homespun shirt. They&#39;re digging sweet potatoes with their bare hands and an old-fashioned hoe.</p></div></div></div><p>Jimmy Burch Sr., who owns the business together with two brothers, says that when he saw this painting, he had to buy it &mdash; partly because he grows sweet potatoes himself, and partly because this crop has been such a big part of Southern culture.</p><p>The sweet potato &quot;was easy to grow, relatively. We had the right climate for it. And it was cheap!&quot; he says. &quot;All the rural people, farmers, that&#39;s what they ate all winter. That and collard greens. I mean, sweet potatoes and collard greens are a big deal in the South. It don&#39;t get more traditional than that!&quot;</p><p>Now traditional is trendy. The humble sweet potato, after decades of decline, is making a comeback. People have woken up to the fact that its orange flesh is full of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/08/15/158783117/saving-lives-in-africa-with-the-humble-sweet-potato">nutrients</a>. &quot;Anything with vitamin A, they&#39;re buying the hell out of it,&quot; he says. &quot;And they need to! Because it&#39;s good for you!&quot;</p><div id="res457229880" previewtitle="Jimmy Burch Sr., in his office at Burch Farms, in Faison, N.C."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Jimmy Burch Sr., in his office at Burch Farms, in Faison, N.C." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/sweetpotato2_custom-46b167d5a861034d574af56e0d4df3c767f08090-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Jimmy Burch Sr., in his office at Burch Farms, in Faison, N.C. (Dan Charles/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Sweet potato production has doubled over the past 15 years. In North Carolina, it&#39;s tripled. North Carolina now produces just over half of all the sweet potatoes in the country.</p></div></div></div><p>This year, Burch Farms has a monster crop, the biggest ever. Jimmy Burch&#39;s problem, on this day, seems to be running out of wooden pallets and bins to store them all. He keeps making phone calls, trying to find more.</p><p>&quot;I mean, it&#39;s a good thing, don&#39;t get me wrong. The Lord gave me a good crop, and I&#39;m gonna dig &#39;em. I&#39;m going to get them in the house, somehow or other.&quot;</p><p>But digging this crop takes many hands. As Jimmy Burch puts it, &quot;a world of people.&quot;</p><p>People like Nabor Segundo and his wife, Rosalia Morales.</p><p>I meet them early in the evening at their home in a small trailer park that sits along a country road amid the fields east of the town of Mount Olive.</p><p>They and their infant son, Alan, share this two-bedroom trailer with one other family. All together, four adults and four children live here.</p><div id="res457229895" previewtitle="Nabor Segundo, with his infant, son, Alan. He and his family share this two-bedroom trailer with one other family."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Nabor Segundo, with his infant, son, Alan. He and his family share this two-bedroom trailer with one other family." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/img_2493_custom-3036a276ab3c5de25783f2a0417288a746bb25da-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Nabor Segundo, with his infant, son, Alan. He and his family share this two-bedroom trailer with one other family. (Dan Charles/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Segundo and Morales met each other a few years ago, in Florida, picking peppers. &quot;We saw each other and fell in love,&quot; Segundo says, and both of them start giggling.</p></div></div></div><p>The couple spends about half of each year in Florida. But for about six months in summer and fall, the work is here, in the coastal plain on North Carolina.</p><div id="res457233255"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>That&#39;s actually a relatively long time for migrant work. They can stay here that long because they switch back and forth between sweet potatoes and another labor-intensive crop: tobacco.</p><p>The tobacco work is now finished. It&#39;s the end of the season. All that&#39;s left to do is bring in the sweet potatoes.</p><p>In every sweet potato field, the work is similar. A tractor does the first part. It pulls a set of steel disks through the vine-covered field, turns the soil upside down, and exposes a bounty of sweet potatoes.</p><div id="res457229899" previewtitle="Workers carry buckets of sweet potatoes to a waiting truck."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Workers carry buckets of sweet potatoes to a waiting truck." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/sweetpotato-3_custom-8e46345641d838b64ece819f9aa6bdf8dbb81dfd-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Workers carry buckets of sweet potatoes to a waiting truck. (Dan Charles/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The rest is done by hand. The skin on a fresh sweet potato is too fragile for machinery. Men &mdash; and a few women &mdash; move through the field, backs bent, picking up sweet potatoes and dropping them into plastic buckets. When the buckets are full, the workers lift them to their shoulders, carry them to a flatbed truck, and dump them into bins.</p></div></div></div><p>It&#39;s exhausting work &mdash; some of the most physically demanding farm work there is.</p><p>&quot;When you first get here, your waist, your hands and your feet can&#39;t take it,&quot; Segundo says. &quot;It&#39;s really hard the first time, because you don&#39;t know how to carry the bucket, how to lift it to your shoulders. It&#39;s really hard to learn.&quot;</p><p>Segundo says each bucket weighs 30 pounds or so. He fills that bucket, and carries it to the truck, 400 to 500 times each day.</p><p>It&#39;s a daily load of six or seven tons of sweet potatoes. At 50 cents a bucket, it adds up to a daily wage of $200 or $250. That&#39;s on the days the laborers are working. On the day I was there, it was raining, so they earned nothing at all.</p><div id="res457229871" previewtitle="Buckets of sweet potatoes go into bins on a flatbed truck."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Buckets of sweet potatoes go into bins on a flatbed truck." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/sweetpotato-4_custom-8c118a2688a7d4d74f616c6f6c3b861e6decfb79-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 448px; width: 620px;" title="Buckets of sweet potatoes go into bins on a flatbed truck. (Dan Charles/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>From this field, the sweet potatoes, still caked with dirt, go into huge, climate-controlled barns for storage.</p></div></div></div><p>They will sit there at least for a few weeks, because sweet potatoes improve with a bit of age. The skin becomes less fragile. They also get sweeter: Some of their starch turns into sugar.</p><p>Meanwhile, the farm workers who pulled them from the soil move on to other fields, and other kinds of food.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/24/457203127/behind-your-holiday-sweet-potato-dish-hard-work-in-the-fields?ft=nprml&amp;f=457203127" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/behind-your-holiday-sweet-potato-dish-hard-work-fields-113926 Local Tomatoes Flourish in the Chicago Area Through Hydroponics http://www.wbez.org/news/local-tomatoes-flourish-chicago-area-through-hydroponics-113898 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HydroTomato.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="MightVine tomatoes are already in Chicago stores including Whole Foods. (WBEZ/Monica Eng) " /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>In recent weeks, Chicago shoppers have found something unusual in Whole Foods and Jewel stores--local tomatoes, in November. They come from an experiment in Midwest farming underway 80 miles to the west in Rochelle, IL.</p><p>That&rsquo;s where the new MightyVine hydroponic farm houses 100,000 tomato plants inside a 7-acre greenhouse. The vines wind around wires and rise high into the air like magical beanstalks sprouting chubby red fruit.</p><p>The tomatoes are being used and sold in specialty store Local Foods in Chicago&rsquo;s West Town neighborhood and in school food catered by Handcut Foods. Both are co-owned by Jim Murphy, who serves as chairman at MightyVine.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re trying to do is provide the best tomato possible into the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Murphy said at the farm&rsquo;s opening last month.</p><p>Hydroponic and greenhouse tomatoes from places like Maine and Canada have been available to Chicagoans for years now. But Murphy, MightyVine CEO Gary Lazarski and their investors have put a $11 million bet that Chicagoans will prefer a product grown closer to home.</p><p>&ldquo;First, you have to have the product,&rdquo; Murphy said. &ldquo;Then you have to educate people about it. And we think we can get Chicago residents to think about tomatoes the way they should. And I think the perfect way is the way Mario Batali says: &lsquo;The best tomato is the one that grows closest to home&rsquo;-- and MightyVine will be the one that grows closest to home 11 months of the year.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HydroTomato2.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="100,000 tomato plants rise into the air in the 7-acre MightyVine farm in Rochelle, Illinois. (WBEZ/Monica Eng) " /></p><p>The Dutch have developed a lot of hydroponic farming, so it&rsquo;s little surprise that MightyVine has chosen Nic Helderman as its master grower. We recently toured the farm with the Netherlands native and he explained that the plants only need about 10 percent of the water used for field tomatoes. Most of that water, he says, will be derived from captured rainwater and snow melt.</p><p>On the other hand, the farm will need some extra inputs when it comes to heat and light the vast greenhouse While the diffused glass ceiling lets in sunlight, the plants will also depend on high-power sodium lights that give the room an unearthly glow.</p><p>&ldquo;Most greenhouses [in the Netherlands] don&rsquo;t have lights, so they plant the tomatoes around Christmas and they harvest in the summer,&rdquo; Helderman said as bumble bees buzzed around the plants he was showing off. &ldquo;But because of the lights, we can grow these tomatoes year round, vine ripe and close to the market.&rdquo;</p><p>Helderman is optimistic about the conditions for a strong, consistent crop, despite a disastrous whitefly infestation that struck in late 2013 at one of the major hydroponic tomato facilities in Maine, Backyard Farms.</p><p>According to CEO Lazarski, the farm has created about 35 permanent jobs and 15 seasonal jobs in Rochelle.</p><p>MightyVine officials say they hope to grow about 4.5 million pounds of tomatoes a year at the facility (about 70,000 to 100,000 pounds a week), including some specialty varieties custom grown for Chicago restaurants including Frontera, RPM Steak, Bang Bang Pie Shop and Revolution Brewing.</p><p>In stores, the tomatoes will go for $2.50 to $3.50 a pound.</p></div><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/local-tomatoes-flourish-chicago-area-through-hydroponics-113898 Is a national policy on school milk boosting lunchtime waste? http://www.wbez.org/news/national-policy-school-milk-boosting-lunchtime-waste-113813 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">One day this fall, first grader Russell Muchow brought his usual bagged lunch from home to Kellogg Elementary School in the far Southwest Side Beverly neighborhood. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">When it came time for lunch, he wanted to have a cold milk. But when he asked for a carton in the lunch line, his mom Molly Muchow says Russell was told, &ldquo;in order to take the milk (he) had to take the lunch.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20151103_122235_resized.jpg" style="height: 500px; width: 281px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Inside school garbage can. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />But the 6-year-old already had a lunch and if he took a second one, he&rsquo;d just have to throw it away. It didn&rsquo;t make sense to him. So when he got home, Molly Muchow says, &ldquo;he was distraught&rdquo; over being told he had to take food he couldn&#39;t eat. &ldquo;That is not what we teach them at home. We don&rsquo;t throw out food. That is unacceptable.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Muchow says she called up the Kellogg school &nbsp;lunch director (Chicago Public Schools officials did not respond to WBEZ requests to interview the lunch director.) and basically got the same message: kids can&rsquo;t take free milk unless they take the whole meal.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;So I said I&rsquo;d just pay for the milk extra,&rdquo; Muchow recalled. &ldquo;And [the lunch director] told me it would actually be better for me to have him take the lunch even if he was going to throw it out, for budget reasons, and numbers and for them.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">This may sound outrageous from a food waste perspective, but from a school money angle, it&rsquo;s true.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">That&rsquo;s because for each child who takes the full meal &mdash; which includes an entree with milk and a side of fruits or vegetables</span>&nbsp;&mdash; the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays CPS $3.15, which it shares with the food service company Aramark.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">But if a child just takes a milk, the district and Aramark get nothing from the feds.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">The situation recently dominated a Kellogg Local School Council meeting, but it&rsquo;s an issue that&rsquo;s rooted in federal policy.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&quot;In order for it to be a reimbursable meal by USDA the lunch needs to include all the meal components,&quot; explained USDA regional administrator Tim English. &quot;And that would be a grain, vegetable or fruit, milk and meat or meat alternate. The idea is that we want to provide kids who are taking school lunch with a well-rounded meal.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8546053033_e95eaad450_k.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Students and parents at a Chicago public school say that when kids just want a single part of a meal--like a milk to go with a home lunch--they are pushed to take an entire free lunch. The full meal triggers payment from the federal government. Some think this could be generating a lot of food waste in schools. (flickr/USDA)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">But it means kids who just want an egg or banana at breakfast, for instance, must take the rest of the meal, even if it&rsquo;s tossed in the garbage.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Starting last school year, most &nbsp;districts across the country like Chicago&rsquo;s, with a lot of low-income students, adopted the Community Eligibility Provision. That&rsquo;s a USDA program that &nbsp;makes all meals free to all students in the school or district regardless of income. This reduces mountains of free lunch application paperwork and the need to collect money in the lunchroom.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Students still have the ability to pay 45 cents for milk out of pocket each day. But Northwestern University economist and professor of social policy Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach says the policy doesn&#39;t make that likely.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;Under these circumstances, if you&rsquo;re getting the same thing and you can choose to pay for it or you can choose to get it for free the vast majority of people will choose to get the same item for free instead of paying for it,&rdquo; she said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;The incentives here are certainly for kids to take what&rsquo;s free and then wastefully dispose of it,&rdquo; she continued, &ldquo;so it seems like there&rsquo;s room for a policy improvement so that kids can get just the milk for free instead of taking the whole meal and then throw part of it away.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">That policy change would require an act of Congress &mdash; which happens to be reviewing the rules around school lunch right now, albeit at a slow pace.</span></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/nutritionists-raise-glass-whole-milk-new-dietary-guidelines-113390" target="_blank"><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8542429717_dfe01d4a07_k.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture have teamed up to revise the country’s dietary guidelines, as they have every five years since 1980. They aim to drop the longstanding limit on total fat consumption, which could clear the way for whole milk in school meal programs. (flickr/USDA)" /><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></a></div></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">There is, however, a window for a quicker fix. CPS could choose to pick up the 45 cent tab when a student wants just a milk, making the less wasteful option an easy option (We found at least one district in Ohio where the superintendent says he decided to start doing this two months ago in response to food waste).</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Still, CPS rejects the idea, saying it would just cost too much. And, to be fair, this appears to be the stance of most districts across the nation, according to Tim English, the USDA director for the Midwest.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">So if free milk won&rsquo;t be an option in the district, how are the existing choices presented to students? Are kids told they can bring money to buy a milk? Are they encouraged to take more than they want? </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>We asked CPS to explain exactly how lunch staff are told to present the options, but officials would not talk to us about it. The district also would not give us permission to talk to the Kellogg lunch staff about the procedure they follow on the matter.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Kellogg parent Jill Zayauskas says she pretty clear about the way the options are handled at her school, and it makes her mad.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;My son was five when he first saw this and if a five-year-old knows wasting food is wrong then the people who plan this program should know that,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I just don&rsquo;t understand why children are forced to throw away a complete lunch to get chocolate milk and actually encouraged to do that so someone can make their quota. It&rsquo;s all about money&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">About half of the money for each meal goes to food service company Aramark, which receives $1.31 for each lunch taken.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Kellogg mom Emily Lambert says students are getting mixed messages, right when they&rsquo;re in the middle of a food drive.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;My son is coming home every day asking to take food to school to give food to people who don&rsquo;t have it, while in the lunchroom they&#39;re throwing it away,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They understand that it&rsquo;s wrong to throw away food that you have and you aren&rsquo;t going to eat.&rdquo; &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">The USDA is also in the middle of its own campaign to reduce food waste by 50 percent in 15 years.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Contact her at </span><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a> or follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a></em></p></p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 05:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/national-policy-school-milk-boosting-lunchtime-waste-113813 How Obama's trade deal might stir up your dinner http://www.wbez.org/news/how-obamas-trade-deal-might-stir-your-dinner-113697 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-482696700_custom-3b2d86bc315805c0070f8c4b608510712b8875be-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455064880" previewtitle="Tajima Wagyu beef cows at a cattle farm in Yabu City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Japan won a provision in the new Pacific Rim trade deal that would push tariffs back up if its beef imports surge."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Tajima Wagyu beef cows at a cattle farm in Yabu City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Japan won a provision in the new Pacific Rim trade deal that would push tariffs back up if its beef imports surge." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/gettyimages-482696700_custom-3b2d86bc315805c0070f8c4b608510712b8875be-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Tajima Wagyu beef cows at a cattle farm in Yabu City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Japan won a provision in the new Pacific Rim trade deal that would push tariffs back up if its beef imports surge. (Buddhika Weerasinghe/Bloomberg/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>When President Obama announced the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday &mdash; and released them on&nbsp;<a href="https://medium.com/the-trans-pacific-partnership">Medium.com</a>&nbsp;&mdash; there was a lot of talk about labor, the environment and manufacturing. But trade deals have a way of changing the way we eat, too.</p></div></div></div><p>Consider NAFTA, which&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/02/13/385754265/how-nafta-changed-american-and-mexican-food-forever">boosted&nbsp;</a>the availability of cheap avocados and winter tomatoes for Americans, while expanding Wal-Mart and processed food in Mexico. So now that we know the details of this new Pacific Rim trade deal, what might it mean for dinner &mdash; both in the U.S. and the 11 other nations party to the treaty? Herewith, a cheat sheet on the 2,000-plus-page deal:</p><div id="res455132443"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Food Safety</strong></span></p><p>Supporters of the TPP highlight the fact that the chapter on food safety and inspections will bring other countries up to U.S. standards and set rapid deadlines for resolving disputes over rejected shipments. Critics say the agreement gives&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/tpp-details-released-and-it%25E2%2580%2599s-worse-we-thought">countries new power to challenge food safety laws</a>, which could be framed as &quot;barriers to trade.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s hard right now for inspectors to make sure everything is safe,&quot; said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of trade, technology and global governance for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Currently, about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44701433/ns/health-food_safety/t/flood-food-imported-us-only-percent-inspected/">2 percent of food imported to the U.S</a>. is inspected. With more imports coming in, pressure to resolve disputes quickly, and no mandate for more regulatory staff, says Hansen-Kuhn, it&#39;s unlikely that inspections will improve.</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>GMOs</strong></span></p><p>Since&nbsp;<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-us-says-new-eu-plan-for-gmo-imports-is-no-solution-2015-4">rules on genetically modified foods differ from country to country</a>, the agreement&#39;s market access chapter includes a section on &quot;products of biotechnology&quot; &mdash; think engineered corn and soy &mdash; and&nbsp;sets up a protocol for importing countries to decide on product safety.&nbsp;It also establishes a working group for the topic, suggesting that there&#39;s plenty more to be worked out.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Dairy, </span></strong><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Meat</span></strong><strong><span style="font-size:18px;"> And Booze</span></strong></p><p>The TPP does away with more than 18,000 tariffs in the countries party to the deal. American producers will gain access to new markets &mdash; and foreign producers will get access to ours. That includes a lot of food, much of which could become cheaper here, as low-cost imports intensify competition on price.</p><p><strong>Dairy</strong>:&nbsp;After significant battle during negotiations, Canada and New Zealand agreed to modest tariff reductions on dairy, opening their markets to American milk and cheese. In return, Americans may see more New Zealand milk &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thecollectivedairy.com/nz/our-products/suckie-spouch-apple-bircher/">apple bircher &quot;yogurt suckies,&quot;</a>&nbsp;anyone? &mdash; on shelves.</p><p><strong>Pork</strong>:&nbsp;The American pork industry has become a net exporter in the past 20 years, says Nick Giordano, vice president for global government affairs at the National Pork Producers Council. The TPP will pave the way for exports to continue to grow. But America also imports a significant amount of pork. Tariff reductions on imports here could make all that foreign pork cheaper and push prices down in the U.S. &mdash; but also potentially threaten the livelihood of hog farmers.</p><p><strong>Beef</strong>:&nbsp;The agreement doesn&#39;t do much for American beef producers, says the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nfu.org/nfu-says-tpp-will-fail-family-farmers-and-ranchers/3620">National Farmer&#39;s Union</a>, because Japan won a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-06/tpp-to-cut-food-costs-for-japan-on-lower-tariffs-more-imports">provision</a>&nbsp;that would push tariffs back up if imports surged.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.r-calfusa.com/r-calf-usa-says-tpp-will-worsen-cattle-and-sheep-price-volatility/">Smaller beef producers in the U.S. say</a>&nbsp;that increased competition from imports will put more farmers out of business.</p><p><strong>Booze</strong>:&nbsp;California&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/pressroom/10062015">Wine Institute has been supportive of the TPP</a>, as have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.just-drinks.com/analysis/what-does-the-trans-pacific-partnership-mean-for-the-drinks-industry-focus_id118361.aspx">most American drink industry group</a>s &mdash; think Kentucky bourbon &mdash; because the deal opens the massive Pacific market to their products. It also should mean lower prices here for Pacific Rim wines and spirits, like New Zealand&#39;s <em>sauvignon</em><em> </em><em>blancs</em> and Japanese shochu&nbsp;&mdash; though the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative notes that American wine tariffs are already pretty low.</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Labeling Issues</strong></span></p><p>Junk food:&nbsp;Prepackaged food companies can be required to list all ingredients in their foods and additives, but regulators are required to provide importer companies the same confidentiality afforded domestic ones &mdash; i.e. no requesting, say, the formula for Coca-Cola to verify nutrition information and then sharing it with a local producer. So those food labels should still tell you whether you can&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89876927">pronounce what you&#39;re eating</a>.</p><p>Organic Products:&nbsp;Countries can enforce organic standards and are encouraged to come up with a way to unify them across borders. But there&#39;s no provision about whether stricter or looser standards should prevail. According to the agreement&#39;s draft text, if a country &quot;maintains requirements relating to the production, processing, or labeling of products as organic, it shall enforce such requirements.&quot; The USTR was unable to provide specifics by publishing time.</p><p>Challenging other nations&#39; laws:&nbsp;The Investor State Dispute Settlement provision &mdash; which Elizabeth Warren called &quot;the TPP clause everyone should oppose&quot; &mdash; gives member states the power to challenge other states&#39; laws that impact trade and sales. The clause is similar to the provision in NAFTA that overturned a Mexican tax on high fructose corn syrup in favor of American companies&#39; right to sell it, though the TPP does contain explicit language giving countries the right to &quot;regulate in the public interest.&quot; No word yet from USTR&nbsp;on whether labeling provisions for genetic modification and country of origin would reach that standard, or who defines &quot;public interest.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/08/455054676/how-obama-s-trrade-deal-might-change-your-dinner?ft=nprml&amp;f=455054676" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 11:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-obamas-trade-deal-might-stir-your-dinner-113697 Move over, Yellow 6. More natural colors from plants are coming http://www.wbez.org/news/move-over-yellow-6-more-natural-colors-plants-are-coming-113602 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Capture_1.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res452884431"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="Turmeric, on left, was used to make the yellow in the cupcakes on the right." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/29/turmeric3_wide-3ca8d3f6907f0e1500d76b01a9761f680a7a61d0-s1700-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Turmeric, on left, was used to make the yellow in the cupcakes on the right. (NPR; Courtesy of colorMaker Inc.)" /></div><div><div><p style="text-align: justify;">Not long ago, I tried a new kind of Doritos tinted a shade of orange that I&#39;ll wager does not exist in the vegetable world. These JACKED Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Flavored chips were so intensely tinted that after four chips, I had to stop eating them. My mind simply wouldn&#39;t accept them as food.</p></div></div></div><p style="text-align: justify;">What was behind that exceedingly bold hue of orange? Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake and Yellow 5 Lake, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fritolay.com/snacks/product-page/doritos/doritos-jacked-ranch-dipped-hot-wings-flavored-tortilla-chips">label</a>.</p><div id="res453984214"><div><div style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</div></div></div><p style="text-align: justify;">Artificial colors like these are widely used in packaged food and considered&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm048951.htm">safe</a>&nbsp;by the Food and Drug Administration.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Yet an increasing number of food companies are moving away from synthetic colorings and toward plant-based ones, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foodfocus.on.ca/who.html">Carol Culhane</a>, president of International Food Focus Limited, a Toronto-based firm that helps American and Canadian food manufacturers comply with food regulations.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Culhane says demand for natural colorings &ndash; which can be derived from a variety of fruits and vegetables &ndash; took off after a&nbsp;2007&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17825405/">study</a>&nbsp;in the Lancet <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/22/416486286/sans-artificial-general-mills-scrambles-to-reformulate-lucky-charms">linking artificial colors with hyperactivity in children</a>.</p><div id="res452885545"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="This multi-colored cake's icing is made from red cabbage juice, turmeric, annatto, beet juice, and caramel color." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/29/colormaker_multicolorcake_custom-0f43c13aa9ce448e87364e4a2777c155cb948740-s1700-c85.jpg" style="height: 707px; width: 620px;" title="This multi-colored cake's icing is made from red cabbage juice, turmeric, annatto, beet juice, and caramel color. (Courtesy of colorMaker Inc.)" /></div><div><div><p style="text-align: justify;">Culhane cautions that the 2007 study&#39;s findings were preliminary and were not necessarily statistically significant. Nonetheless, she says, &quot;the food industry wanted to take a precautionary stand&quot; and many companies began working to replace artificial colorings with natural colorings in everything from cereal to soft drinks to powdered cheese.</p></div></div></div><p style="text-align: justify;">They include Kraft, which announced in April that its classic macaroni and cheese will debut in 2016&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kraftmacandcheese.com/FAQs">without synthetic colors</a>, and Panera Bread, which&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/06/404626500/panera-is-the-latest-to-drop-artificial-ingredients-from-its-food">pledged</a>&nbsp;to ditch artificial colorings and other additives by the end of 2016.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/22/416486286/sans-artificial-general-mills-scrambles-to-reformulate-lucky-charms">General Mills</a>&nbsp;is taking artificial colors and flavors out of its cereals by the end of 2016, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/02/19/387319835/chocolate-makeover-nestle-dumps-artificial-colorings">Nestle</a>&nbsp;made the same announcement about its chocolate candy products, with a deadline at the end of this year.</p><div id="res453984222" style="text-align: justify;">But <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/09/09/220660810/purple-sweet-potato-a-contender-to-replace-artificial-food-dyes">making food colors from plants </a>is often more expensive than making in them in a lab. That&#39;s because when you&#39;re dealing with plants, Culhane says, you have to deal with a lot more fluctuations, thanks to Mother Nature. For example, she says, in a factory, companies can make as much of a synthetic color as needed at any given time the exact same way, and keep the price consistent. But pigments in real vegetables can vary from field to field, region to region and year to year.</div><p style="text-align: justify;">Now that the string of announcements from Big Food is ratcheting up demand for colorings from plants even higher, companies are looking for new ways to derive bold hues from everything from grapes to carrots to beets.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In the October issue of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ift.org/Food-Technology/Past-Issues/2015/October/Columns/Ingredients.aspx?page=viewall">Food Technology</a>, Karen Nachay&nbsp;of the Institute of Food Technologists rounded up some of the new fruit- and vegetable-derived coloring options on the market. The Salt reached out to three of those companies to get the lowdown on how they do it.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><a href="http://colormaker.com/">colorMaker</a>&nbsp;of Anaheim, Calif., uses a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to make a full spectrum of natural colorings &ndash; from purple carrots and red cabbage to beets and grapes.&nbsp;Stephen Lauro, the general manager of colorMaker, says the company&nbsp;gets its fruits and vegetables in juice form from growers from all over the world: grapes and beets from the U.S., red cabbage from China, purple carrots from Eastern Europe, turmeric from India and more. The custom natural color blends can be found in kid cereals, ice cream, candy and stuffed pasta.</p><div id="res452885132"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="Cheese dip is one type of food that Kalsec's natural colors derived from carrots might go into." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/29/kalsec_chips-and-cheesedip_custom-be4f6a357724f19680cf43101f341147f6e15112-s1700-c85.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 620px;" title="Cheese dip is one type of food that Kalsec's natural colors derived from carrots might go into. (Courtesy of Kalsec)" /></div><div><div><p style="text-align: justify;">In the past few years, Lauro says more food companies have come to colorMaker asking for more natural-looking colors &ndash; not just replicas of the artificial version that look artificial (like those JACKED Doritos). &quot;[They] don&#39;t want a red color that looks like red 40,&quot; says Lauro. &quot;That was a major shift,&quot; spurred by consumers.</p></div></div></div><p style="text-align: justify;"><a href="http://kalsec.com/">Kalsec</a>&nbsp;has been making natural colors for more than 50 years and is one of the world&#39;s largest extractors of color from carrots.&nbsp;The Kalamazoo, Mich., company contracts with growers across the U.S. to produce them. &quot;We have a certain variety and a certain seed mixture that works the best for us in terms of getting the best yield and the best color that we can,&quot; Gary Augustine, Kalsec&#39;s executive director of market development, tells The Salt. Augustine compares the process used to extract the concentrated color from the carrots to the process used to make coffee from grinds in a coffee maker.</p><div id="res452884836"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="San Joaquin Valley Concentrates sellsa natural color made from Rubired grapes used to tint things like fruit smoothies." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/29/turmeric2_vert-3d284e77e67fc564a6d1ee0f886223774d0a996f-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="San Joaquin Valley Concentrates sells a natural color made from Rubired grapes used to tint things like fruit smoothies (Courtesy of San Joaquin Valley Concentrates)" /></div><div><div><p style="text-align: justify;">Because natural colors are not as stable as artificial colors, Kalsec applies its patented Durabrite&nbsp;technology to its naturally sourced colors, making them more stable against light, heat, oxygen and trace metals.&nbsp;The yellow or orange natural coloring that comes from the carrots might be used in products like margarine or snack chips. &quot;Consumers are looking for more naturally sourced ingredients,&quot; Augustine says. &quot;They want what we would call &#39;cleaner&#39; labels.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p style="text-align: justify;"><a href="http://www.sjvconc.com/">San Joaquin Valley Concentrates</a>, a subsidiary of E. &amp; J. Gallo Winery, creates natural shades of red, pink and purple&nbsp;from Rubired&nbsp;grapes, purple carrots and purple sweet potatoes in Fresno, Calif. The colors come in crystal and liquid forms.&nbsp;SJVC also sells anthocyanins &mdash; the blue, purple or red pigments &ndash;&nbsp;in those fruits and vegetables that give them their gorgeous red, pink and purple shades, according to Tracy Takeda, a product development technologist for the company, in an email. (Anthocyanins are also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22129334">antioxidants</a>, with a variety of healthful properties.)</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Takeda says the Rubired grape is only grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California and is a favorite because it&#39;s more stable than other fruit colors. You might see its reddish hue in things like beverages, candy or frozen fruit bars.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/02/452561192/move-over-yellow-6-more-natural-colors-from-plants-are-coming?ft=nprml&amp;f=452561192"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 15:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/move-over-yellow-6-more-natural-colors-plants-are-coming-113602 Fish-filled diet causing elevated mercury levels in Asian-Americans http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-filled-diet-causing-elevated-mercury-levels-asian-americans-113564 <p><p>Asian-Americans eat a lot of fish.</p><p>And while that can contribute to better health, it can also lead to elevated mercury levels in the blood. That&rsquo;s because industrial pollution has contaminated waterways and the fish living in it. This makes some traditional Asian eating patterns risky, especially for women of childbearing age.&nbsp;</p><p>Elevated mercury levels in pregnant and nursing women can impair the cognitive development of their children. And high levels in older adults can increase risk of cardiovascular disease.</p><p>When researchers studied blood and hair samples of Asian Americans in Seattle and New York they found elevated mercury levels in one-third to nearly half of all subjects, respectively.</p><p>Preliminary studies have shown similar issues in Chicago Asians, according to environmental health physician Dr. Susan Buchanan. This week the University of Illinois at Chicago announced that Buchanan and her colleagues have received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health to study the issue further.</p><p>The five-year research project will work with Asian community groups to gather and better gauge mercury exposure. But the scientists also hope to explore the cultural traditions and practices around fish consumption.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sambal-fish.jpg" style="float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Environmental health physician Dr. Susan Buchanan will be studying the eating habits of local Asians, as well as mercury levels in staples of their diet, like fish sauce and oyster sauce. It’s part of her five-year project to reduce mercury exposure in Asian Americans. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really interested to see what role the different types of fish sauces play,&rdquo; Buchanan said. &ldquo;We are going to be testing them for mercury levels and using statistical analysis to gauge what role the quantity of fish sauce plays in their overall risk. I&rsquo;m also interested in the practice of eating the whole fish including the organs and sometimes the bones.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s the issue of fish head soup.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We have learned from our preliminary interaction with Asian community groups in Chicago that fish head soup is very popular during breastfeeding,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re wondering if that might lead to elevated mercury [in mother&rsquo;s systems] during breastfeeding, which would also be a concern because mercury does appear in breast milk.&rdquo;</p><p>The researchers are also concerned about exposure to PCBs through fish consumption, But because the chemicals are difficult to measure in the body, they will do PCB testing on fish from local markets where the participants shop.</p><p>After the UIC scientists have identified some of the most common sources of mercury exposure in the local Asian diet, Buchanan says they plan to craft interventions. These will include a text message app that will remind women about the safest fish choices during their childbearing years.</p><p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-2ca5692f-b8eb-f4d8-4c0e-94a2bc3e88e4">Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Follow her at</span><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-filled-diet-causing-elevated-mercury-levels-asian-americans-113564 That salmon on the menu might be a fraud - especially in winter http://www.wbez.org/news/salmon-menu-might-be-fraud-especially-winter-113532 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/salmonistock.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res452552647"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="When salmon was out of season, diners in restaurants were likely to get a species other than what they ordered 67 percent of the time, a new survey finds." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/istock_000048514658_full_slide-1388bd0f3924894bb2e10c312bced111dea97050-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="When salmon was out of season, diners in restaurants were likely to get a species other than what they ordered 67 percent of the time, a new survey finds. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>Would you be able to tell if the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon you ordered for dinner was swapped out for a less expensive piece of farm-raised salmon?</p></div></div></div><p>For the observant, the color difference between the two would likely be the first give away. (Sockeye has a deeper red-orange hue.) Or maybe you&#39;d notice the disparity in the thickness of fillet. (Sockeye is flatter and less steaky in appearance.)</p><p>But what if you ordered the most coveted of salmon species &mdash; king salmon? (It&#39;s also known as Chinook.) Much like farmed Atlantic salmon, it&#39;s light in color, thick in texture and similarly marbled with fat. It&#39;s also significantly more expensive. And according to<a href="http://oceana.org/salmonfraud">&nbsp;a new report</a>&nbsp;released Wednesday by conservation group Oceana, it&#39;s a fish where you&#39;re more likely to get duped &mdash; especially if you order it from a restaurant during the winter.</p><p>In its latest attempt to uncover seafood fraud, Oceana collected and tested 82 salmon samples from restaurants and grocery stores in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York between December 2013 and March 2014. Results showed that 43 percent of salmon samples tested were mislabeled, and that far more of that mislabeling is occurring in restaurants than in large supermarkets.</p><p>The instances of salmon fraud were significantly higher than during an<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/02/21/172589997/one-in-three-fish-sold-at-restaurants-and-grocery-stores-is-mislabeled">&nbsp;earlier 2013 nationwide study</a>&nbsp;by the same group. That study included far more &mdash; 384 samples, which showed salmon fraud at only 7 percent. But the jump isn&#39;t being attributed to a sudden increase in unabandoned label swapping, rampant menu hijinks or differences in sample size. This survey was designed to measure fraud during the winter months, when salmon was not in season, and the marketplace would be shorter on supply, says Kimberly Warner, a senior scientist at Oceana who authored the new report.</p><p>&quot;In D.C. in summer, I don&#39;t think we had any salmon mislabeling. Same for Chicago,&quot; Warner tells The Salt.</p><p>To select samples for the newest study, Oceana searched online menus for restaurants touting &quot;wild salmon&quot; and sought out salmon labeled &quot;wild&quot; in grocery stores.</p><p>What the group found was that when wild salmon was out of season, the testing netted significantly different results. Diners were likely to get duped 67 percent of the time when ordering salmon in restaurants, compared with 20 percent of the time when buying in large grocery stores &mdash; which have to comply with country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations. And when diners were deceived, it was more likely to be an incident of farmed salmon being passed off as more expensive wild (69 percent of the time).</p><p>Erica Cline, an associate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma, conducted a<a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996911006247">&nbsp;similar study published in 2012</a>. Initially, she also found higher rates of farmed salmon being swapped for wild during winter months. But her ongoing testing in the years since has found that fraud tends to fluctuate regardless of season. Like Oceana&#39;s report, &quot;we still see substantially higher rates of substitution in restaurants than in [grocery] stores,&quot; Cline says.</p><p>Oceana says this kind of fraud is a real economic problem: Salmon-loving consumers aren&#39;t always getting what they&#39;re paying for, and responsible American salmon fishermen are being forced to compete with fraudulent products &quot;receiving less cash than they should be for their hard-won catch,&quot; according to the report.</p><p>And Warner says it&#39;s an environmental problem for those consumers who go the extra mile to consult seafood sustainability ratings like the Monterey Bay Aquarium&#39;s Seafood Watch, which ranks seafood as &quot;best choice,&quot; &quot;good alternative&quot; or &quot;avoid.&quot;</p><div id="res452554311"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Salmon for sale at a market." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/1280px-pike_place_market_-_silver_salmon_at_pure_food_fish_01_custom-583b33496a4c7e216bc8e892f3dd825469cc437e-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 408px; width: 620px;" title="Salmon for sale at a market. (Joe Mable/Wikimedia)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;If someone is trying to purchase something rated as a &quot;best choice,&quot; like a wild Alaskan salmon, and is getting in its place something from a foreign country that has problems with sea lice or antibiotic use &mdash; if farmed &mdash; or was caught illegally, it could have serious ecological consequences,&quot; says Warner.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;Serious ecological consequences&quot; is strong language. If the marketplace swap is simply farmed salmon for wild, rather than a species threatened by overfishing, the damage to the environment may be less than the damage to a deceived diner&#39;s wallet. Afterall, the farmed salmon industry has come a long way from it&#39;s days as a poster child for bad aquaculture practices, says NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Jennie Lyons.</p><p>&quot;There are a lot of misconceptions about aquaculture, and farmed salmon,&quot; Lyons tells The Salt.</p><p>Salmon is the most popular fish in America. We consume impressive amounts of it &mdash; nearly 870 million pounds of a year. The majority of that, nearly two-thirds, come from farmed salmon, grown outside the U.S, despite the fact that American fishermen catch enough salmon to satisfy 80 percent of our domestic demand.</p><p>But global seafood supply chains are complex. Fish don&#39;t often travel in a straight line from fishermen to chef to plate. Approximately 70 percent of U.S. wild-caught salmon is exported, much of it to Asia for processing into tidy fillets. And at each step in that journey, information about the fish &mdash; where it was caught, how it was caught and the exact species &mdash; can get left behind. That&#39;s true even when the same salmon sent to China for processing is refrozen and shipped back to us &mdash; a head-scratching fish swap noted by author<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/07/01/327248504/the-great-fish-swap-how-america-is-downgrading-its-seafood-supply">&nbsp;Paul Greenberg</a>&nbsp;in American Catch.</p><p>Precisely how much of that salmon comes back to quell American appetites is unclear.</p><p>&quot;No one has yet given me a satisfying answer for how much of that is reimported,&quot; says Greenberg.</p><p>Warner says that&#39;s because no one is tracking it. This system creates conditions ripe for fraud and mislabeling. There are no traceability requirements in place that will follow a fish from the point where it was caught to its final place on your dinner plate.</p><p>&quot;We have no tracking of our fish through the supply chain. That&#39;s how something like illegal caught Russian salmon can enter into our supply chain,&quot; she says &mdash; and be mislabeled as &quot;pacific salmon&quot; or &quot;wild salmon.&quot;</p><p>And it is why Oceana is calling on the<a href="http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150315-presidential-task-force-releases-action-plan-to-combat-illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-fishingaand-seafood-fraud.html">&nbsp;President&#39;s Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud</a>&nbsp;to include salmon asaspecies at high risk for fraud, and to expand documentation requirements to all seafood entering the U.S. supply chain.</p><p>Steven Wilson, deputy director of the Office of International Affairs and<a href="http://www.seafood.nmfs.noaa.gov/">&nbsp;Seafood Inspection</a>&nbsp;at NOAA Fisheries, is a member of the task force. He, says issues of seafood fraud are on the government&#39;s radar, but says NOAA&#39;s own testing has not shown an uptick in salmon species substitutions.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re seeing an increase of seafood fraud as you move further down the supply chain, but we&#39;re not seeing an increase in the overall percentage being mislabeled,&quot; says Wilson. The further down the supply chain a fish goes, the likelier it is to be mislabeled he says &mdash; but he stresses that not all menu mislabeling is intentional.</p><p>&quot;Someone can make a simple mistake,&quot; Wilson says. &quot;They serve salmon on the menu, run out, buy more and wouldn&#39;t necessarily even think about it. It&#39;s very telling that salmon fraud identified in grocery stores was far less. Restaurants are the most susceptible.&quot;</p><p>His advice on avoiding salmon fraud echoes Oceana&#39;s: Ask questions &mdash; and lots of them. Look at the price you&#39;re paying for the salmon: If it&#39;s too good to be true, be cautious. Warner would add: Seek-out wild salmon in-season, and look for fish that are traceable back to the boat.</p><p>Wilson says it&#39;s important to keep the problem in perspective.</p><p>&quot;Is the consumer being defrauded? If the consumer definitely wants wild caught, they&#39;re not getting what they&#39;re paying for,&quot; he says. &quot;But what if they&#39;re paying less? If they&#39;re paying for Atlantic salmon, they&#39;re getting what they&#39;re paying for. What if they&#39;re paying for ambiance, a night out with good friends? [Then] they&#39;re getting what they&#39;re paying for. It&#39;s fuzzy. I&#39;m not condoning it, but how far do we go, and what&#39;s the punishment?&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/28/452539969/that-salmon-on-the-menu-might-be-fraudulent-especially-in-winter?ft=nprml&amp;f=452539969"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 11:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/salmon-menu-might-be-fraud-especially-winter-113532