WBEZ | Food http://www.wbez.org/sections/food Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago Launches First Black Restaurant Week http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-launches-first-black-restaurant-week-114744 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Peytyn.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago&rsquo;s annual Restaurant Week activities may be winding down, but &nbsp;Sunday marks the launch of a new restaurant week--one aimed at spotlighting Chicago&rsquo;s black-owned eateries.</p><p dir="ltr">The project is called <a href="http://chicagoblackrestaurantweek.com/">Chicago Black Restaurant Week </a>&nbsp;and it&rsquo;s the brainchild of social media management specialist Lauran Smith. She says the weeklong event is not so much a reaction to the other Restaurant Week as an addition to it. And the timing is just a co-incidence.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I chose the week because before there was Black History Month, way back in 1926 Dr. Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week, which was always the second week in February,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I said let me honor his initial vision to honor African Americans who have played a part in our history. And let me do the restaurant week so it can commemorate what he did and so we can start something new in 2016.&rdquo;</p><p>So Smith invited about a dozen Chicago area restaurants and bakeries to discount some of their top dishes for the week. Participating spots include Truth Italian Restaurant in Bronzeville, Flavor Restaurant in Richton Park, Jordy Cakes in Country Club Hills, Pizzazzed Plus and Lighthouse Wholefood Grill in Hyde Park.</p><p>I recently stopped by Truth Italian to talk to its owner Peytyn Willborn. She says she&rsquo;ll be featuring discounted versions of her wings, chicken Alfredo and Atlantic salmon. And she&rsquo;s eager to show off her food.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;People need to know that we offer great food, that black people can cook,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Even though I don&rsquo;t cook here. But we&rsquo;re drowning. We&rsquo;re small fish in a big sea and people need to know we&rsquo;re here. So I love the fact that we are having our first Black Restaurant Week.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">When I asked Willborn why she and many other African American restaurant owners didn&rsquo;t participate in the main Restaurant Week, she said that many of them had never heard of it. Plus, she says, there are relatively few African-American entrepreneurs who get into the restaurant business. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">She notes that she was able to open her place using savings from her other businesses (a hair salon and a group of day care centers) but she knows that others don&rsquo;t have that capital available.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I was one of the blessed ones,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But African Americans have dreams, we just don&rsquo;t have the money and we have to have someone to believe in us.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/black-hispanic-entrepreneurs-discriminated-against-when-seeking-small-business-loans/2014/06/03/70059184-ea86-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html">national study</a> out by Brigham Young University and other researchers suggests that minorities have a harder time getting business loans than whites with the same qualifications.</p><p>But even with financing barriers, Chicago&rsquo;s black entrepreneurs have opened dozens of restaurants all over the area, and consumers are hungry to know about them. <a href="http://beansouptimes.com/#sthash.AnMurAiI.dpbs">Bean Soup Times </a>publisher Toure Muhammad learned this last year when he compiled a list of black-owned eateries in the area.</p><p>&ldquo;I came up with 123, and there&rsquo;s actually more than that,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And I think it sparked something. I probably got eighty or ninety thousand hits [on that story] in a month and people still come to it. There&rsquo;s a realization in the community that the more we support black-owned businesses the more jobs are created and kept in the community. It&rsquo;s similar to the shop local movement.&rdquo;</p><p>The reaction to the list, he says, has inspired yet another black-owned restaurant event that he plans to launch in the summer.</p><p dir="ltr">Only a fraction of those 123 restaurants are signed up for this year&rsquo;s inaugural Chicago Black Restaurant Week (at press time it was nine). But Smith says she&rsquo;s just starting and hopes to expand every year. In the meantime, she hopes this year&rsquo;s effort will encourage African-Americans and others to give a few more black-owned businesses a try. &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 17:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-launches-first-black-restaurant-week-114744 We Sampled the Gastronomic Frontier of Virtual Reality http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/we-sampled-gastronomic-frontier-virtual-reality-114701 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/flickrMladen Hanzek.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res464920170" previewtitle="Project Nourished's virtual eating gizmos. From left: An atomizer that releases the scents of a food; a virtual reality headset; a a device that mimics the chewing sounds transmitted from a diner's mouth to their ear drums; a cocktail glass with built-in sensors; a utensil that picks up on the diner's movements and integrates them into the virtual reality experience; and a 3-D printed food cube."><div><p>By now, you&#39;re probably tired of hearing about how virtual reality is the next big thing for movies and games. But here&#39;s one you may not have heard yet: that virtual reality could be the next big thing for culinary experiences.</p></div></div><p>Potentially, the technology could help us consume our favorite tastes while avoiding unwanted side effects &ndash; whether food allergens or just extra calories. As someone who has long had a fraught relationship with the rotation of wonders at my local doughnut shop (think seasonal confections like Pumpkin Fool), the idea holds an undeniable appeal.</p><p>&quot;Why is it that the good things are always bad for us?&quot; commiserates designer Jinsoo An. He just might have an unconventional solution to my doughnut problem. &quot;Maybe with virtual reality, that doesn&#39;t need to be the case,&quot; he says.</p><p>An is the brains behind&nbsp;<a href="http://www.projectnourished.com/">Project Nourished</a>, a virtual reality eating experience that aims to let people consume whatever they want, without the downside.</p><p>The idea is to use a variety of methods to trick your mind and palate into thinking you&#39;re eating something different than what&#39;s actually in your mouth. To find out what it&#39;s all about, I visited An&#39;s studio in downtown Los Angeles.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Project Nourished's virtual eating gizmos. From left: An atomizer that releases the scents of a food; a virtual reality headset; a a device that mimics the chewing sounds transmitted from a diner's mouth to their ear drums; a cocktail glass with built-in sensors; a utensil that picks up on the diner's movements and integrates them into the virtual reality experience; and a 3-D printed food cube." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/29/gizmos_wide-1c4e96c253fe8025e290204ce0f40e20878b3913-s800-c85.png" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Project Nourished's virtual eating gizmos. From left: An atomizer that releases the scents of a food; a virtual reality headset; a a device that mimics the chewing sounds transmitted from a diner's mouth to their ear drums; a cocktail glass with built-in sensors; a utensil that picks up on the diner's movements and integrates them into the virtual reality experience; and a 3-D printed food cube. (Courtesy of Project Nourished)" /></p><p>&quot;We were actually making some sushi last night,&quot; he tells me as we tour the studio&#39;s kitchen. &quot;I can show you some.&quot;</p><p>The &quot;sushi&quot; turns out to be a couple of semi-translucent cubes that have been molded to look like rice. They&#39;re made out of agar-agar &mdash; a vegan substitute for gelatin. Fun fact: Agar-agar is used both in Japanese deserts and by microbiologists in lab experiments. Which is what I was about to become.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;re actually one of the first ones to try this,&quot; An tells me as I sit down for my virtual meal. &quot;You might be the first person outside of our team to try this.&quot;</p><p>Before pulling on the Oculus Rift goggles &ndash; a head-mounted display which shows me a visually simulated environment, including the looks of my food &ndash; I confess to An that my guinea pig status makes me giddy. Then it is time to chow down &mdash; virtually.</p><div id="res464894604" previewtitle="Designer Jinsoo An of Kokiri Lab is the mastermind behind Project Nourished, a virtual reality eating experience. Around 30 engineers, food scientists, chefs and designers have worked with An on the project."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Designer Jinsoo An of Kokiri Lab is the mastermind behind Project Nourished, a virtual reality eating experience. Around 30 engineers, food scientists, chefs and designers have worked with An on the project." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/29/engineer_custom-a4f18954c20a5d5b9df8e50c89c25de9238bac8f-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Designer Jinsoo An of Kokiri Lab is the mastermind behind Project Nourished, a virtual reality eating experience. Around 30 engineers, food scientists, chefs and designers have worked with An on the project. (Courtesy of Noah Nelson/Youth Radio)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;Hello,&quot; says the most soothing computer voice imaginable. &quot;Welcome to Project Nourished. Momentarily, I will guide you through the culinary experience of a lifetime.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Inside the goggles I see a little table overlooking a Zen garden. On the table is a plate with a tiny cube of sushi rice that looks like the one An showed me back in the real world. And then, I actually smell sushi.</p><p>That smell is thanks to the blast of an atomizer, a device usually used to mist medicine. Here, it&#39;s repurposed to create a smell redolent of sushi restaurant. Finally, it is time to take a bite.</p><p>It tastes like fish.</p><p>Of course, it&#39;s all an illusion &mdash; one put together with the help of restaurateur Nguyen Tran.</p><p>&quot;We found that the two defining flavors of sushi&mdash; at least for the American palate &mdash; [are] ginger and wasabi,&quot; Tran says. &quot;And the minute we put those in there and layered on top of just the simple flavor of dashi, rice and seaweed, it was exactly like sushi for us.&quot;</p><p>Well, not <em>exactly&nbsp;</em>like eating sushi. The flavor is there, and at least at first, so is the texture. But past the first bite, the agar-agar starts crumbling into a sandy mush.</p><div id="res464895099" previewtitle="The Pumpkin Fool from Santa Monica, California's Sidecar Doughnuts &amp; Coffee is a ring of delicious evil, and reporter Noah Nelson's personal downfall. If only its gastronomic virtues could be bundled into a virtual, guilt-free version."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Pumpkin Fool from Santa Monica, California's Sidecar Doughnuts &amp; Coffee is a ring of delicious evil, and reporter Noah Nelson's personal downfall. If only its gastronomic virtues could be bundled into a virtual, guilt-free version." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/29/doughnut-a7f3b2e61bc80c7fab871e5e0ff54589a04ec53c-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="The Pumpkin Fool from Santa Monica, California's Sidecar Doughnuts &amp; Coffee is a ring of delicious evil, and reporter Noah Nelson's personal downfall. If only its gastronomic virtues could be bundled into a virtual, guilt-free version. (Courtesy of Noah Nelson/Youth Radio)" /></div><div><div><p>Right now, Project Nourished requires a touch of suspension of disbelief. But designer An sees it as an evolving &quot;open canvas&quot; for experimentation.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;Which means we can insert nutrients and take away nutrients. You can change the behavior of the food however you want &mdash; that&#39;s what&#39;s so magical about this. It turns food into a piece of code,&quot; An says.</p><p>So maybe one day we could pack all the nutrition I need into a virtual, guilt-free Pumpkin Fool donut. Until then, I guess you know where you can find me.</p><div><hr /></div><p><em>Noah Nelson is a reporter for&nbsp;<a href="http://turnstylenews.com/">Turnstyle</a>&nbsp;News &mdash; tech and culture coverage from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/01/29/464885833/www.youthradio.org">Youth Radio</a>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/01/29/464885833/we-sampled-the-gastronomic-frontier-of-virtual-reality"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 13:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/we-sampled-gastronomic-frontier-virtual-reality-114701 Meet the Most Pampered Vegetables in America http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/meet-most-pampered-vegetables-america-114699 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CUCAMELON_CREDITRyan Kellman_NPR.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res462829269" previewtitle="Microgreens and flowers grown by Chef's Garden are prepared by chefs from Walt Disney World."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Microgreens and flowers grown by Chef's Garden are prepared by chefs from Walt Disney World." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/tweezersdyp_slide-084d2a071b830dc2fd787696bebe474f0c0252f6-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Microgreens and flowers grown by Chef's Garden are prepared by chefs from Walt Disney World. (Michelle Demuth-Bibb/Chef's Garden)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>There&#39;s a small corner of the restaurant world where food is art and the plate is just as exquisite as the mouthful.</p><p>In this world, chefs are constantly looking for new creative materials for the next stunning presentation.</p><p>The tiny community of farmers who grow vegetables for the elite chefs prize creativity, too, not just in what they grow but in how they grow it. They&#39;re seeking perfection, in vegetable form and flavor, like this tiny cucumber that looks like a watermelon &mdash; called a cucamelon.</p><div id="con463167901" previewtitle="cucamelon"><div id="res462840158" previewtitle="The cucamelon is a tiny cucumber that looks like a watermelon."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The cucamelon is a tiny cucumber that looks like a watermelon." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-5.1_custom-a861d53687621abe471b6dfccf825d1ad6401ac8-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The cucamelon is a tiny cucumber that looks like a watermelon. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div></div><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chefs-garden.com/">Chef&#39;s Garden</a>&nbsp;is a specialty vegetable farm in Huron, Ohio, about an hour west of Cleveland. It&#39;s a family farm, where three generations of the Jones family work side by side with about 175 employees. It&#39;s a place where vegetables are scrupulously selected and then painstakingly coaxed from the ground.</p><div id="res462837962" previewtitle="Rows of lettuce at Chef's Garden in Huron, Ohio."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Rows of lettuce at Chef's Garden in Huron, Ohio." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-11_custom-405ab7c832aa1be43fdb39aeaafbab7a607d782f-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Rows of lettuce at Chef's Garden in Huron, Ohio. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>This farm produces an extraordinary selection of vegetable varieties, ranging from the familiar to the exotic, like the cucamelon. In the summer, they can offer chefs 80 varieties of tomatoes. Through the year, they&#39;re growing more than a dozen kinds of lettuce of different textures and colors, like Merlot, in their greenhouses.</p><div id="res462829202" previewtitle="Merlot lettuce is one of many varieties of lettuce grown by Chef's Garden."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Merlot lettuce is one of many varieties of lettuce grown by Chef's Garden." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-6_custom-198fd13ec89019bc67d508c7cce3b486a37d4ecb-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Merlot lettuce is one of many varieties of lettuce grown by Chef's Garden. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><h3>&quot;What we&#39;re trying to do is offer new colors of paint to the chef. It&#39;s not just about color ... it&#39;s flavor and texture. It needs to taste good, and if it doesn&#39;t it has no place,&quot; says Lee Jones, who runs Chef&#39;s Garden with his father and brother.</h3><div id="res462829182" previewtitle="Farmer Lee Jones inside a tomato greenhouse on his farm in Huron, Ohio."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Farmer Lee Jones inside a tomato greenhouse on his farm in Huron, Ohio." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-1_custom-54d37b795eee3543fbc7e0b4264268205b46b16c-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Farmer Lee Jones inside a tomato greenhouse on his farm in Huron, Ohio. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>When Lee Jones (who wears this ensemble of blue overalls, white shirt and red bow tie every single day) was a teenager, his family grew ordinary vegetables for the wholesale market, like a lot of their neighbors. Then in 1983, the Joneses went bankrupt and lost almost all their land. All they could do with the few acres that were left was supply a small stand at local farmers markets.</p><p>One of their customers was a food writer in Cleveland desperate to find the squash blossoms she&#39;d tasted in France and couldn&#39;t find in America. So they went back to the zucchini patch and picked some for her. She was ecstatic, and they began to realize there were unmet needs in the world of fine dining.</p><p>It wasn&#39;t too long before the Joneses began to get connected to chefs around the country &mdash; people like Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller. The great French chef Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate in Washington, D.C., told them, &quot; &#39;Your food is s*** in America,&#39; &quot; Lee recalls. In particular, he was talking about the vegetables. And he told them they could seize the opportunity to grow vegetables to the standards of chefs like him.</p><h3>There&#39;s a movement now of farmers like the Joneses who &quot;really aspire to be the best, where it&#39;s not a commodity anymore &mdash; it&#39;s actually about the process that will result in something extraordinary,&quot; says Chef Thomas Keller.</h3><p>The farm covers 300 acres and supplies chefs all year round, with the help of greenhouses and hoop houses that can be moved from plot to plot in the winter.</p><div id="res462829194" previewtitle="The farm covers 300 acres and supplies chefs all year round, with the help of greenhouses and hoop houses that can be moved from plot to plot in the winter."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The farm covers 300 acres and supplies chefs all year round, with the help of greenhouses and hoop houses that can be moved from plot to plot in the winter." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-4.5_custom-b6e7591312375f84e069c5554de53f07ae1e0f59-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The farm covers 300 acres and supplies chefs all year round, with the help of greenhouses and hoop houses that can be moved from plot to plot in the winter. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>The Joneses say they need to always have something new to offer the chefs. So they have a &quot;secret&quot; experimental garden and greenhouse where they test new varieties. Visitors are not allowed inside.</p><h3>&quot;When we find a new crop, we have two years before [other farmers] start to copy us,&quot; says Bob Jones Sr., Lee&#39;s father and the patriarch of Chef&#39;s Garden.</h3><p>Attention to detail flows through every step of the farming, harvesting and shipping process. And it all starts with the soil.</p><h3>&quot;If you don&#39;t have good soil, you have nothing,&quot; says Bob.</h3><div id="res462829186" previewtitle="Bob Jones Senior in a field of Sudan grass that's been planted as a cover crop. Underneath is about a foot of topsoil that he's built up over the years."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Bob Jones Senior in a field of Sudan grass that's been planted as a cover crop. Underneath is about a foot of topsoil that he's built up over the years." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-23_custom-152d2e688239a2d3f622fbbb010c9ae9bc1bb11e-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Bob Jones Senior in a field of Sudan grass that's been planted as a cover crop. Underneath is about a foot of topsoil that he's built up over the years. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>The soil on this farm gets remarkably special treatment.</p><p>The Joneses are fortunate that their farm is located just a few miles inland from Lake Erie. That means they started with some of the richest sandy loam soil in the world, formed from thousands of years of deposits from the lake bottom.</p><p>But they&#39;ve dedicated themselves to improving it by resting the soil and adding nutrients to deepen the layer of topsoil year after year.</p><p>The way they do that is by planting only one-third of their land (100 acres) with vegetables at any one time.</p><p>The remaining 200 acres are sown with cover crops like Sudan grass, oats and clover that return nitrogen and other nutrients that the vegetables take out.</p><div id="res462829179" previewtitle="The Joneses plant only one-third of their land with vegetables at any one time.The remaining 200 acres are sown with cover crops for one to two years before they're planted with vegetables again."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Joneses plant only one-third of their land with vegetables at any one time.The remaining 200 acres are sown with cover crops for one to two years before they're planted with vegetables again." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-22_custom-2fcd1cae254cfe0b0db78e2c8031059f9b5004be-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The Joneses plant only one-third of their land with vegetables at any one time.The remaining 200 acres are sown with cover crops for one to two years before they're planted with vegetables again. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><h3>&quot;If you would talk to the farmers around here, they think we&#39;re crazy. They think we&#39;re absolutely ready for the loony bin,&quot; says Bob, &quot;because we do things so much different.&quot;</h3><p>Rotating crops and cover cropping this way is one of the secrets to the vegetables&#39; distinctive flavor, Bob says.</p><p>The Joneses, like the chefs, are always looking for surprising new varieties. Lee tries out the latest seeds from plant breeders and combs through dusty agricultural books.</p><div id="res463182994" previewtitle="(Left) Lee finds unique varieties of vegetables to grow by combing through old agricultural books. (Right) Lee surveys a field of lettuce."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="(Left) Lee finds unique varieties of vegetables to grow by combing through old agricultural books. (Right) Lee surveys a field of lettuce." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/15/bookslee_custom-31719b2c17abc4c46f990b19cf97fc1e5a7a58fb-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 620px;" title="Left, Lee finds unique varieties of vegetables to grow by combing through old agricultural books. And right, Lee surveys a field of lettuce. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><h3>&quot;We didn&#39;t discover any of these &mdash; we&#39;re uncovering, rediscovering, reintroducing. There&#39;s thousands of species of eggplant out there to be explored,&quot; says Lee.</h3><p>Another thing the Joneses try to tightly control is the seeds they put in the ground. If you buy thousands of them in bulk the way they do, many are bound to fail.</p><p>They check every batch for their germination rate to try to ensure they&#39;re putting only the seeds most likely to succeed in the ground.</p><div id="res462829257" previewtitle="The Joneses monitor seed vitality by germinating each batch they receive. Here, Helios radish seeds are checked for their germination rate."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Joneses monitor seed vitality by germinating each batch they receive. Here, Helios radish seeds are checked for their germination rate." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-28_custom-fd3c6cd6d9e1cc54413f0c24c47506614191ae60-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The Joneses monitor seed vitality by germinating each batch they receive. Here, Helios radish seeds are checked for their germination rate. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>They also have a machine to sort seeds for size and weight to help them eliminate the weakest ones. The goal is to guarantee chefs a consistent product every time they need it.</p><h3>&quot;All this comes down to getting dependable production. We can&#39;t get to February and say, &#39;Aw, Chef, we can&#39;t do it because the seed wouldn&#39;t germinate.&#39; That doesn&#39;t work,&quot; says Bob.</h3><p>There&#39;s a whole lab at Chef&#39;s Garden with a small staff dedicated to monitoring and measuring the seeds and the soil.</p><p>It&#39;s just one branch of Chef&#39;s Garden&#39;s highly specialized staff, focused on different aspects of quality control. All together, they give this farm an unusual ratio of workers to acres: about one person per half-acre.</p><p>About 25 of the 178 employees are temporary workers who come mostly from the Aguascalientes region of Mexico to work nine months a year.</p><div id="res462956721" previewtitle="About 25 of the 178 employees of Chef's Garden are temporary workers who come mainly from the Aguascalientes region of Mexico to work on the farm nine months a year."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="About 25 of the 178 employees of Chef's Garden are temporary workers who come mainly from the Aguascalientes region of Mexico to work on the farm nine months a year." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/13/mondayedit-36_custom-a34767213b0a65a44342f7d427bcfa44ba622cb8-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="About 25 of the 178 employees of Chef's Garden are temporary workers who come mainly from the Aguascalientes region of Mexico to work on the farm nine months a year. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>These workers pick everything to order &mdash; from the microgreens to the tiny eggplants and cucamelons.</div></div></div><p>Chefs ask for miniature versions of their favorites because when they&#39;re small, they pack more flavor and make for stunning garnishes. And picking these crops is labor-intensive.</p><div id="res463183465" previewtitle="(Left) Chefs ask for miniature versions of their favorites, like these tiny purple eggplants. (Right) Cucamelons on the vine."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="(Left) Chefs ask for miniature versions of their favorites, like these tiny purple eggplants. (Right) Cucamelons on the vine." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/15/eggplant-and-tomato_custom-848f506a1b5ad6d01b1ae8106d32ac87ae408968-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 620px;" title="Left, chefs ask for miniature versions of their favorites, like these tiny purple eggplants. And right, cucamelons on the vine. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>But if a chef wants 100 nasturtium flowers the size of a dime, Lee is happy to oblige &mdash; in part because he has the manpower to pick them.</div></div></div><p>Since there are so many stages in a plant&#39;s life, the farm has developed an eight-stage, patented set of sizes, including micro, petite, young, flowering and seeded. Some vegetables come in every single size.</p><h3>&quot;At every single stage of the plant&#39;s life, it offers something unique to the plate. We&#39;ve learned how to look at that plant in a way that says, &#39;Why not?&#39; &quot; says Lee.</h3><p>The precise moment the crops are picked also matters if they&#39;re going to be perfect. Take, for example, the squash blossoms, which are harvested during a narrow hour-and-a-half window in the early morning.</p><div id="res462829190" previewtitle="The farm has developed an eight-stage, patented set of sizes for vegetables like squash it offers chefs. The sizes include micro, petite, young, flowering and seeded."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The farm has developed an eight-stage, patented set of sizes for vegetables like squash it offers chefs. The sizes include micro, petite, young, flowering and seeded." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-34_custom-96087b5534122e284ef1e7587a0a9cd3893cebef-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The farm has developed an eight-stage, patented set of sizes for vegetables like squash it offers chefs. The sizes include micro, petite, young, flowering and seeded. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><h3>&quot;You&#39;re trying to walk past those ones that are waning, if you will, and pick that one that&#39;s right today, in this particular moment, in this particular hour, the perfect squash bloom, so that it can go onto the plate and blow the guest away of that chef,&quot; says Lee.</h3><p>The same goes for the lettuce, which is harvested at dawn, when the air, the ground and the plants are coolest. The goal, particularly in the summer, is to harvest them at the lowest possible temperature so they can stay fresh longer.</p><div id="res462829261" previewtitle="Workers at Chef's Garden pick squash blossoms only at their peak, which is a narrow hour-and-a-half window in the early morning."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Workers at Chef's Garden pick squash blossoms only at their peak, which is a narrow hour-and-a-half window in the early morning." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/squash-3_custom-a349e678c8e35de78ab7d2d4ca0631688c24aa9f-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 622px; width: 620px;" title="Workers at Chef's Garden pick squash blossoms only at their peak, which is a narrow hour-and-a-half window in the early morning. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>By the time the vegetables reach the packing room, they&#39;re treated like jewels.</div></div></div><p>Bob Jones Jr., Lee&#39;s brother, oversees this stage, where lettuce rosettes are carefully packed with insulation. If the box is filled with tomatoes, it&#39;s fitted with foam padding. In the summer, ice packs go into the boxes to keep the vegetables cold if they&#39;re headed to hot locales.</p><div id="res463183792" previewtitle="The shipping room at Chef's Garden, where vegetables are carefully washed and packed for their overnight journey to chefs around the country and even abroad."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The shipping room at Chef's Garden, where vegetables are carefully washed and packed for their overnight journey to chefs around the country and even abroad." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/15/mondayedit-15_custom-ba11dcb6c72b3f1a726e1ed52321850b7fba8dc8-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The shipping room at Chef's Garden, where vegetables are carefully washed and packed for their overnight journey to chefs around the country and even abroad. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>Nearly all the vegetables that leave here by truck or airplane reach kitchens within a day of coming out of the ground.</div></div></div><p>Shipping vegetables from Ohio to California or New York or Florida means these vegetables most certainly won&#39;t be local once they reach diners. They&#39;ll have quite a few additional greenhouse gas emissions attached to them, too.</p><div id="res462829198" previewtitle="A box of heirloom tomatoes is fitted with foam padding before being shipped overnight to a chef."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A box of heirloom tomatoes is fitted with foam padding before being shipped overnight to a chef." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/12/mondayedit-14_custom-a60b74f104a909fe3263004b1c089f176f0a8ff1-s1300-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="A box of heirloom tomatoes is fitted with foam padding before being shipped overnight to a chef. (Ryan Kellman/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>And if you&#39;re buying this precious produce, it will, of course, cost you. The Joneses say their costs are probably 2.5 times as great as a regular production system&#39;s, where every acre is farmed every year. A two-pound box of lettuce from Chef&#39;s Garden goes for about $24.</p><p>But chefs will pay top dollar for these exquisite vegetables.</p><h3>&quot;If we&#39;re not willing to pay for the extraordinary ingredients, then we&#39;re not going to have the extraordinary ingredients,&quot; says Chef Thomas Keller.</h3><p>Chef&#39;s Garden is starting to sell directly to consumers via mail order. And Lee is hopeful about this new frontier for the business.</p><h3>&quot;We know in the U.S. there&#39;s a movement toward more healthy and fresh vegetables, so we&#39;re trying to anticipate that and be ready for it. The chefs we work with can drive those trends. It is a trickle-down effect,&quot; says Lee.</h3><p>This has been a special multimedia project of NPR&#39;s food blog,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/">The Salt</a>.</p></p> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 10:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/meet-most-pampered-vegetables-america-114699 Craft Beer Industry Competes for Limited Taps http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-29/craft-beer-industry-competes-limited-taps-114643 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Craft Beer-Flickr-tabounds.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Can too many good beers ever be a bad thing? If you like drinking it, the answer is definitely &ldquo;no&rdquo;. If you&rsquo;re a new brewery trying to break into the scene, or an established one trying to keep your product flowing, the answer is probably &ldquo;yes&rdquo;.</p><p>Fritz Hahn of the Washington Post tells us more. He recently wrote about what&rsquo;s happening now that the number of choices for consumers has exploded, but the number of taps at bars hasn&rsquo;t. We&#39;re also joined by Josh Deth of Revolution Brewery,and Earle Johnson of Quencher&rsquo;s Saloon.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 12:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-29/craft-beer-industry-competes-limited-taps-114643 Is School Food Too Healthful? http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/school-food-too-healthful-114638 <p><p>If you&rsquo;re tuned into the fights in Washington over school food these days, you might think students are eating nothing but lentils and kale.</p><p>Last week, the Senate agricultural committee voted to ease 2010 standards (limiting salt and requiring more whole grains) backed by Michelle Obama&rsquo;s &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s Move&rdquo; campaign. And later this year, the House of Representatives is expected to propose similar changes.</p><p>So that got me wondering: Have the new rules really changed school food that much?&nbsp; And what do the most popular entrees look like here in Obama&rsquo;s home district?</p><p>Despite six months of requests, Chicago Public Schools officials have refused to let me see a cafeteria. But I&rsquo;ve talked to lots of students about what they&rsquo;re eating, and then I went the official route with a Freedom of Information Act request to CPS for the top entreés it serves.</p><p>Turns out both efforts got the same answer. The top three dishes served in the district are--by far--highly processed, heat and serve chicken patties, cheeseburgers, and pizza.&nbsp; And that&rsquo;s under the nutrition rules considered overly strict by a lot of Washington lawmakers.&nbsp;</p><p>I also FOIAd ingredients for each item. They didn&rsquo;t look overly strict and healthful to me, but I wanted to be sure. So I took them to Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietician and author.&nbsp; Blatner said she was impressed by the partial use of whole grain flour in the buns and chicken patty. She also approved of the fat grams in the burger and chicken dish. But that&rsquo;s pretty much where her admiration ended. Blatner didn&#39;t like the meat fillers (soy protein concentrate) in the &quot;chicken&quot; and &quot;beef.&quot; And, generally, she said the foods violated a rule she calls &ldquo;cut the CRAP.&rdquo;</p><p>CRAP&rsquo;s an acronym for Chemicals you don&rsquo;t cook with at home, Refined sugars, Artificial flavors and sweeteners and Preservatives.</p><p>&ldquo;So do I see CRAP in all of this?&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Absolutely. Those are, to me, red flags that this is processed foods and definitely not something that should be an everyday occasion for anybody of any age.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Yet most of those entrees are being served every day to high schoolers and several times a week to grade school kids.</p><p>Chicago chef Sam Kass led the First Lady&rsquo;s Let&rsquo;s Move health and nutrition campaign that championed the 2010 rules.<br /><br />I asked if Chicago&rsquo;s Top 3 list of chicken patties, pizza and cheeseburgers surprise him:</p><p>&ldquo;No that doesn&rsquo;t surprise me,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp; &ldquo;I think what we know about that cheese pizza is that the crust is whole grain and the same with the bun of the burger. There is a lot less sodium and fat in the cheese and pizza.&rdquo;<br /><br />Still, these aren&rsquo;t the dishes Kass was dreaming of when he pushed for the rules six&nbsp; years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously the goal is to get our kids foods that are minimally processed and that are really healthy for them. So yes would I love to see just a chicken breast as opposed to a highly processed patty with lots of stuff in it. Of course. And a lot of districts are already doing it.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />These other districts are in places like Washington DC,&nbsp; New York and Oakland, Cal.,&nbsp; where pilot programs are helping kids swap processed meals for freshly cooked food.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s worth noting that Chicago schools also do some fresh cooking. Local cooks make things like broccoli and other vegetables. But, as part of a weird district rule, they&rsquo;re forbidden from ever using even a crystal of salt on that food. Intentionally or not, this ends up leaving a lot more room for salt in the processed foods--without blowing the federal limits on sodium per meal.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />I asked Kass if he thought this was a bad use of salt overall?<br /><br />&ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;For the love of God, salt the broccoli! I think this shows what can come when we do more of the cooking ourselves&hellip; We can dramatically reduce the amount of salt in the burger patty and make sure that broccoli tastes good.&rdquo;</p><p>But moving from processed foods to more scratch cooking isn&rsquo;t easy. Most school food watchers agree it requires, at least, three important elements: school kitchens outfitted with the right equipment, a staff of trained cooks and a strong directive from the top to make the change. In a cash-strapped district like CPS, scratch cooking advocates are unlikely to find those elements.&nbsp;</p><p>While there is some federal funding available for kitchen equipment--including loans and grants specified in the Senate proposal--most agree it&rsquo;s not enough. National funds designated for 2016 school kitchen improvements add up to a mere $30 million. A recent Pew study estimated that it would take $200 million to outfit kitchens for healthier cooking in Illinois alone.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sodium.jpg" style="height: 367px; width: 620px;" title="Buried in Chicago Public School’s 900 page contract with Aramark is this provision that forbids the use of salt in any meal preparation. Some believe this puts the salt-free vegetables at a disadvantage against the salty highly processed foods that dominate the menu. It also allows the processed food to be served without exceeding federal salt limits for the whole meal. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG)" /></div><p>While rural districts are often able to pull off freshly cooked meals, Diane Pratt-Heavner of the School Nutrition Association says it&rsquo;s tougher in city schools.</p><p>&ldquo;Quite often--especially in urban areas where the cost of labor is high and infrastructure can be old--schools simply don&rsquo;t have the labor or equipment to scratch prepare,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So they are required to serve pre-prepared items.&rdquo;</p><p>Heavner&rsquo;s group is leading the charge against current rules. The SNA represents school food service managers and is sponsored by big food companies, which she says are there to help.</p><p>&ldquo;Food companies are really working to try to develop cleaner label items and to help schools meet these standards,&rdquo; she said noting that many of the items the companies develop to meet school food rules end up in grocery stores. These include the &ldquo;better for you&rdquo; whole grain, reduced fat Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheeto.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />Where Congress will eventually come down on salt levels, whole grain percentages and vegetable frequency remains unclear. But what does seem clear is that the current debates are unlikely to get processed foods off the center of the plate in Chicago Public Schools any time soon.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ food reporter. Email her at meng@wbez.org Follower her <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 09:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/school-food-too-healthful-114638 After Chipotle Outbreaks, Will 'Food With Integrity' Still Resonate? http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-25/after-chipotle-outbreaks-will-food-integrity-still <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chipotle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chipotle Mexican Grill is struggling to convince its customers it&#39;s a safe place to eat, after several outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have sickened hundreds of its customers. But no one thinks the task is going to be easy.</p><p>&quot;This is a fairly significant problem for Chipotle,&quot;<a href="http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/directory/calkins_timothy.aspx">&nbsp;Timothy Calkins</a>, clinical professor of marketing at Northwestern University&#39;s Kellogg School of Management, tells us. While customers are often quick to forgive companies for transgressions, that may not be the case this time, he says.</p><p>&quot;The difficult thing for Chipotle is that, it&#39;s not that there was one incident. There have been a number of different incidents,&quot; he says. &quot;And the problem with that is that it creates an overall perception, and it raises questions about safety.&quot;</p><p>The once-high-flying restaurant chain has been hit with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2015/O26-11-15/index.html">two separate outbreaks of E. coli</a>&nbsp;over the past three months. The larger one sickened 52 people in October, mostly in Washington and Oregon, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A separate outbreak in November sickened five people in Kansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma, the agency said.</p><p>In December, scores of students at Boston College&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbur.org/2015/12/10/chipotle-sickness-practices">fell ill</a>&nbsp;after eating at a nearby Chipotle, an outbreak the company said was due to a norovirus, which causes vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.</p><p>And in August, a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota sickened 64 people who had eaten at Chipotle. The state&#39;s Department of Health later linked the illness to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2015/salmonella091615.html">tomatoes served at the chain</a>.</p><p>Founded in Colorado more than two decades ago, Chipotle has enjoyed rapid growth by positioning itself as a healthy, fresh alternative to traditional fast-food chains, a company that serves &quot;food with integrity.&quot;</p><p>&quot;To eat at Chipotle was sort of the ethically and ecologically right thing to do, which resonated with a great deal of customers,&quot; says Andrew Alvarez, an analyst at<a href="http://www.ibisworld.com/">IBISWorld,</a>&nbsp;a market research firm.</p><p>The multiple outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have struck at the very heart of that image, says John Stanton, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph&#39;s University in Philadelphia.</p><div id="res461929381" previewtitle="Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and CEO Steve Ells, shown here in an interview with The Associated Press last month, says the company intends to become a leader in food safety."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and CEO Steve Ells, shown here in an interview with The Associated Press last month, says the company intends to become a leader in food safety." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/04/ap_976775719604-298979658dcf222b2ac6a8bbe749a4fde0a7bd1f-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and CEO Steve Ells, shown here in an interview with The Associated Press last month, says the company intends to become a leader in food safety. (Stephen Brashear/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;They&#39;ve kind of positioned themselves as a special company that caters to the fresh and delicious product, etc., and they&#39;ve let people down. And when you let people down, they take that pretty seriously,&quot; Stanton tells us.</p></div></div></div><p>The bad publicity has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thestreet.com/story/13387648/1/chipotle-mexican-grill-cmg-stock-plunges-as-e-coli-outbreak-weighs-on-q4-sales.html">taken a toll on the bottom line</a>&nbsp;at the company, which has warned that its sales fell in the last quarter of 2015. Once a darling of Wall Street, Chipotle&#39;s stock fell 30 percent last year, and the company says its sales have fallen by as much as 11 percent.</p><p>Chipotle has responded by promising to become an<a href="http://ir.chipotle.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=194775&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2120228">&quot;industry leader in food safety.&quot;</a>&nbsp;A press release promised more stringent testing of produce, better training of employees and &quot;continuous improvements throughout its supply chain, using data from test results to enhance the ability to measure the performance of its vendors and suppliers.&quot;</p><p>The company&#39;s founder and CEO, Steve Ells, also apologized for the outbreaks in a Dec. 10 interview on NBC&#39;s&nbsp;Today&nbsp;show:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;It was a very unfortunate incident, and I&#39;m deeply sorry this has happened, but the procedures we&#39;re putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>But a message of contrition could be hard to sell to customers, Stanton says.</p><p>&quot;I mean, my first question, as soon as they said that, was why didn&#39;t they do that originally? I mean, they obviously weren&#39;t doing all they could to make their products safe, and they&#39;re now paying a price for it,&quot; he says.</p><p>Northwestern&#39;s Calkins says companies can eventually recover from public relations disasters such as this one. Chipotle first has to discover the source of the recent outbreaks, he says.</p><p>Once it does, Calkins says, &quot;they need to get out there and get people feeling good. They&#39;ve got to invest a lot in advertising, so that when people think about Chipotle, they&#39;re not thinking about food safety. They&#39;re thinking about that great brand, and the food they love so much.&quot;</p><p>Calkins says other companies, such as Toyota, have come back from big public relations disasters, so it is possible. But he says it will take time for Chipotle to crawl out of the hole it has stumbled into.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/01/05/461925691/after-chipotle-outbreaks-will-food-with-integrity-still-resonate?ft=nprml&amp;f=461925691" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 12:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-25/after-chipotle-outbreaks-will-food-integrity-still Raw Milk Sales Now Legal In Illinois, With Rules http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/raw-milk-sales-now-legal-illinois-rules-114501 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Raw milk cooler 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/illinois-regulators-put-squeeze-raw-milk-rules-110769">two year battle </a>over raw milk regulation in Illinois ended with compromises on both sides.</p><p>The &nbsp;state&rsquo;s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules gave the greenlight to a set of rules that allow raw milk sales in the state, but only on the farm where it was produced.</p><p>Public health officials, who pushed for rules, say they are pleased--especially with the on-farm provision and mechanisms to trace any problematic milk back to its source. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We are also pleased that the rules allow for a consumer advisory that raw milk can be hazardous if consumed, just like sushi or under-cooked meat,&rdquo; the Cook County Health Department said in a statement.</p><p>Raw milk drinkers and farmers met the rules with mixed reactions. Rebecca Osland of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, which represented farmers, says some were glad to finally have legalizing rules in place. Others, however, felt the rules were &ldquo;a solution in search of problem,&rdquo; citing the lack of any raw milk-related illnesses in the state for 30 years. &nbsp;</p><p>Osland said many were also upset about restriction of all sales to the farm. This would prohibit the hundreds of gallons that are delivered to Chicago-area consumers every week through milk clubs.</p><p>Customers often pay $8 to $18 a gallon for the drink and cite taste and health benefits for their choice. Osland doesn&rsquo;t believe they will stop their orders because of the new regulations.</p><p>&ldquo;So they&rsquo;re just going to stay under the table, which is not a good result, either for the farmers or people interested in public safety,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The state&rsquo;s raw milk battle has placed public health officials on one side, with arguments that unpasteurized milk should be restricted (or even banned) because it can carry harmful bacteria. On the other side, raw milk drinkers and farmers argue that all foods come with risks. They say raw milk consumers are willing to accept those risks (and the high price) for the benefits they believe it offers.</p><p>Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises against drinking raw milk, <a href="http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/PDFs/State-by-State-Sales.pdf">more than half </a>of the states allow some form of raw milk sales. In states like California, Pennsylvania and Arizona raw milk can be sold in stores. Others allow subscription milk sales and others restrict sales to the farm.</p><p>Osland says the Stewardship Alliance hopes to modify the rules in the future in order to bring urban deliveries &ldquo;above the table as well. In general we want to provide more opportunities for these small farmers to conduct their business and supply the high demand there is out there for raw milk.&rdquo;</p><p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-b30a10b6-5a11-6035-f74d-19528c9ea039">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> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 07:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/raw-milk-sales-now-legal-illinois-rules-114501 Climate Change's Effect on Public Health http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-06/climate-changes-effect-public-health-114393 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_386099793449.jpg" title="(AP Photo/Michel Euler)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240695643&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Climate Change&rsquo;s effect on public health</strong></span><br />The World Health organization says climate change is the biggest public health threat of the 21st century. Climate Change has been linked to many public health problems - everything from increased waterborne diseases due to warmer waters and more flooding - to a rise in asthma cases. &nbsp;Illinois has its own set of public health challenges - with things like allergies on the rise. We&rsquo;ll look at the relationship between Climate Change and health with Dr. Sarah Lovinger, executive director of Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility, Brian Urbaszewski, director of Environmental Health Program for the Respiratory Health Association and Dr. Peter Orris, director of the Occupational Health Service Institute at the University of Illinois School of Public Health.</p><p><strong>GUESTS:</strong></p><p>Dr. Sarah Lovinger is executive director of <a href="http://www.chicagopsr.org/">Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility</a> and a practicing physician</p><p><a href="http://earthjustice.org/50states/2013/brian-urbaszewski">Brian Urbaszewski</a> is Director of Environmental Health Program for Respiratory Health Association, a Chicago-based lung health advocacy founded in 1906</p><p>Dr. <a href="http://www.cade.uic.edu/sphapps/faculty_profile/sphFacultyInd.asp?i=porris&amp;d=">Peter Orris</a> is a professor and director of Occupational Health Service Institute, located at the University of Illinois School of Public Health in Chicago. He attended the Paris talks.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240696414&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>&ldquo;Le Doggy Bag&rdquo; hits France</strong></span></p><p>France just passed a law requiring all restaurants to provide takeaway boxes for customers who request them. Unlike Americans, the French have not traditionally used &ldquo;le doggy bag&rdquo; after finishing a meal at a restaurant. The new legislation is part of an effort to reduce food waste. Louisa Chu joins us to talk about how the new law is being received.</p><p><strong>GUEST: </strong><a href="https://twitter.com/louisachu?lang=en">Louisa Chu</a> (Co-host of Chewing, new food and health podcast with Monica Eng)<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240697070&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Global Notes: Singer Renata Flores reviving </strong><strong>Quechuan language</strong></span></p><p>You may not be able to pronounce this song title- Chaynatam ruwanki cuyanaita- but you&rsquo;d probably be able to hum along with its familiar melody line. &nbsp;The song is Michael Jackson&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Way You Make Me Feel&rdquo; and in this version, it&rsquo;s sung in the ancient Incan language known as Quechuan by a 14 year old Peruvian girl. On this week&rsquo;s Global Notes, Tony Sarabia brings us the story of<a href="http://renatafloresperu.com/"> Renata Flores</a>&rsquo; efforts to revive the language among Peru&rsquo;s youth through song.</p><p><strong>GUEST: </strong><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezsarabia">Tony Sarabia</a> is the host of The Morning Shift and Radio M</p></p> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 09:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-06/climate-changes-effect-public-health-114393 Global Activism: U.S. veterans use Saffron to help rebuild Afghanistan http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-us-veterans-use-saffron-help-rebuild-afghanistan-114201 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ga-saffron farmer 620.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a40e2cb5-b13a-03a2-edfd-4e01720be71e">After their tours of duty in Afghanistan, U.S. veterans, Keith Alaniz, Emily Miller and Kimberly Jung, wanted to do more to help rebuild Afghan society. So they started, <a href="http://www. rumispice.com">Rumi Spice</a>, a &ldquo;for-profit social enterprise&rdquo; that links Afghan farmers with global markets, through harvesting and selling the world&rsquo;s most expensive spice - saffron. For our </span>Global Activism series, they&rsquo;ll join us to tell stories about their tours of duty in Afghanistan and how the people they encountered inspired them to create a brighter future for Afghanistan.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/238028486&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Kimberly Jung was just in Afghanuistan and she <a href="http://www.rumispice.com/ourstory/meethajiibrahimandghaffar">spread the word about WBEZ!</a></em></p><p dir="ltr">&quot;Ibrahim and Ghafar have been farmers with Rumi Spice since last year. After handing them a wad of cash for payment for their saffron flowers, Shakoor sat us down over tea, and I gave them the <strong>WBEZ mugs</strong>. When we took a video, their countenances immediately switched to somber, which I guess translates to stateliness. Haji Ibrahim spent the entire interview looking off into the distance with disdain, rubbing his feet. As soon as it&rsquo;s off, they&rsquo;re back to joking and gesticulating loudly. I mean, look at this guy cheezin&rsquo;!&quot;</p></p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 10:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-us-veterans-use-saffron-help-rebuild-afghanistan-114201 PETA Offers Vegan Lunch to Boycotting High Schoolers http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/peta-offers-vegan-lunch-boycotting-high-schoolers-114152 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/citywide_flyer_Page_1.png" alt="" /><p><p>North Side students boycotting school lunch this week took in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/high-schoolers-get-cps%E2%80%99-attention-website-and-lunch-boycott-114102">donations of yogurt and granola</a> on Monday. By Friday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was offering the Roosevelt High School students free vegan lunches.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We were so inspired by the teens raising their voices for healthier food that we decided to offer a lunch that&rsquo;s healthy, delicious and cruelty free, and one we&rsquo;re sure that the students will love,&rdquo; says Nina Kahn, PETA&rsquo;s assistant manager of youth campaigns.</p><p dir="ltr">Two of CPS&rsquo;s top entrees are cheeseburgers and chicken patties.</p><p dir="ltr">PETA sent the letter to Roosevelt principal Pilar Vazquez-Vialva, but said the principal hadn&rsquo;t yet responded. Friday afternoon CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner wrote that &ldquo;CPS is committed to serving healthy and nutritious meals to its students, including meat-free options.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But in the same message she noted that accepting the vegan food would &ldquo;jeopardize our federal nutrition funding.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Roosevelt senior Valerie Mendez said the students were generally excited about the offer.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Some of them have never tried vegan food, and didn&rsquo;t know what it would be like. But then they were like, &lsquo;Let&rsquo;s try it.&rsquo;&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;A lot of us think [the offer&rsquo;s] great and a game changer. It could be beneficial in multiple ways &mdash; not only healthy for us but it really puts our movement into action.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-high-schoolers-launch-website-against-school-food-113980">movement started last month</a> when teacher Tim Meegan&rsquo;s civics students created a website and petition aimed at improving CPS food provided by Aramark. Last week they launched a partial lunch boycott at Roosevelt that went nearly schoolwide on Monday.</p><p dir="ltr">Tuesday, 30 officials from Aramark and CPS met with the students.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS&rsquo;s Bittner called the meeting productive. &ldquo;Working together, we developed an action plan that includes forming a School Dining Committee, where students can continue to participate firsthand in the meal planning process.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But Roosevelt teacher Meegan called the meeting &ldquo;disappointing.&rdquo; He says CPS school food chief Leslie Fowler &ldquo;talked over us and dictated all the terms of the meeting and action steps. The students felt very put off. Not only did she cut off students but she talked over me and even Aramark representatives there.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">So the students have decided to take their protest further. This Thursday (December 17) they&rsquo;re calling for a <a href="https://rhsschoollunch.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/flyers-for-the-city-wide-boycott-thursday/">district-wide boycott </a>of the meals. If it&rsquo;s as successful as the one held at Roosevelt on Monday, the boycott could end up costing the district and Aramark (who split a $3.15 federal payment for each meal taken) hundreds of thousands of dollars. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Principal Vazquez-Vialva and Aramark did not immediately respond to requests for comment.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS officials told Meegan this week that he is not allowed to distribute or store the 10,000 bags of &nbsp;granola that were donated to Roosevelt students. Officials told him it is considered food that competes with Aramark&rsquo;s products. He says he has arranged to have thousands of bags picked up by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.</p><p dir="ltr">Kahn, of PETA, said she knows CPS may object to offering the free vegan lunch at the school, but that she wants to work with the district to find some way of delivering it to students. In her letter she writes:</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;By putting together a healthy and sustainable vegan menu to nourish your students, you can not only fulfill their request for healthier cafeteria fare, but also take a stand against the cruelty inherent in the meat, dairy and egg industries and help fight climate change &mdash; which will set a positive, compassionate example not only for your students but for other schools, too. We hope to hear from you soon!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kahn says last year PETA donated vegan &ldquo;fishless filets&rdquo; to a New York middle school that was about to eat the tilapia they&rsquo;d raised. &ldquo;They made fish tacos with them, &ldquo; she says, &ldquo;and we were able to save the fishes&rsquo; lives.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Roosevelt senior Mendez said many of her fellow students looked forward to trying the vegan meals.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;d want to try some kind of veggie burger,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;but especially some really good fruit and vegetables because that&rsquo;s not what we get around here.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a food and health reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Dec 2015 17:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/peta-offers-vegan-lunch-boycotting-high-schoolers-114152