Food & Drink

Just a week before a Vermont law kicks-in requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients, U.S. Senate agriculture leaders announced a deal Thursday that takes the power out of states' hands and sets a mandatory national system for GM disclosures on food products.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, unveiled the plan that had been negotiated for weeks with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

Maria Rose Belding and Grant Nelson were recently honored by President Obama for their work developing and implementing a database to connect hungry people with extra food. They’re calling the program the MEANS database, which is a website that allows grocery stores, restaurants and businesses to easily donate excess food, so that more goes to hungry people and less gets thrown in the dumpster. 

Belding says the idea for the database came from her work at a food pantry in Pella, Iowa.

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Agriculture commodity groups should not be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. That’s according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, who opposes House legislation that allows these groups to keep their documents and data private.

Commodity industries have checkoff programs that are tasked with research and promotion of their products, such as pork or eggs. Checkoffs are funded through mandatory fees from producers and are overseen by the USDA.             

Flickr/TimSackton

Expansion in the country’s beef cattle herd is bringing cheaper meat prices to the grocery store just in time for the summer grilling season, but those reduced prices might get some scrutiny on Capitol Hill. U.S.

Photo by Amy Mayer

A weathered wooden shed that holds wheelbarrows, hoes and other basic tools is the beacon of the Student Organic Farm, a two-acre swath within the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Farm. On a warm spring evening, a half-dozen students gather here, put on work gloves and begin pulling up weeds from the perennial beds where chives, strawberries, rhubarb and sage are in various stages of growth.

Courtesy of Oxfam America

Thousands of chainmail-clad workers with knives and hooks keep a modern poultry plant running, churning out the millions of pounds of poultry we eat every year. The job is difficult and demanding, especially for line employees who make the same motion for hours, struggling to keep up with a fast-moving disassembly line. 

A new report from Oxfam America paints an even bleaker picture. 

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Schools across the U.S. served more than 5 billion meals in the national school lunch program to millions of students last year. Each one of the meals has to meet federal rules for nutrition. Now, those rules are up for debate and Congress could impose changes on the cafeteria.

courtesy photo

As a country music singer, Liz Carlisle, who grew up in Montana, says she was interested in the poetry and philosophy of farming and rural life.

"I hadn't been involved in sustainable agriculture at all," she says, "I was a country singer. I think I shared a lot of values, but I didn't really know the language of sustainable agriculture and I wasn't, quite frankly, paying enough attention to economics or to science."

Austin Kirk/Flickr

You're about to start paying less for eggs at the grocery store because egg farms are recovering from last year's bird flu outbreak a bit faster than expected.

 

Nancy Hagen / Iowa Public Radio

Chefs from Eastern Iowa will try and out-cook each other at Iowa Public Radio’s fourth Battle of the Chefs in Cedar Rapids at New Bo City Market on Wednesday, May 5.

During this Talk of Iowa interview,  host Charity Nebbe talks with this year’s new faces: Jim Vido of the Ladora Bank Bistro; Drew Weis of Flatted Fifth Blues and BBQ (Potter’s Mill); and Daniel Dennis, a chef with Lion Bridge Brewing.

David Cavagnaro, born and raised in California, started taking pictures of insects and plants at 14, becoming fascinated with what he calls "the land of the small."  Throughout his life, he has used this love of plants to push hard to save our agricultural diversity.

courtesy of Ben & Jerry's

Calling a Vermont law that creates mandatory labeling of food that has genetically engineered ingredients a "wrecking ball," Republican Sen. Pat Roberts won first-round approval Tuesday of his bill that would circumvent the state law.

Courtesy Oxfam America

In the first nine months of 2015, workers in meat-packing plants owned by Tyson Foods averaged at least one amputation a month. 

That report was gleaned from a Freedom of Information Act request by Celeste Monforton, a George Washington University occupational health professor.

Shanti Sellz is Johnson county's newest hire. Her focus: is going to be on planning and helping bolster the local foods supply chain around the Iowa City area. 

"I would like to focus on the access piece. There is a very large demand in this community, but there are not a lot of people who are involved," Sellz says. "We really want to create opportunities for growers to get connected with institutions – hospitals, the university, the farm to school movement." 

Sally Reick

Candidates running for president have been in and out of Iowa for the last several months outlining their positions on the environment, taxes, gun control and health care. Have you heard any of them talk about their position on food? On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richardo Salvador and Mark Bittman about their push to create a conversation about food policy, and how the government subsidizes food production.

Harvest Public Media / Peggy Lowe

Iowa isn’t requiring new bio security standards at its poultry facilities in the wake of last spring’s catastrophic outbreak of avian flu, but many farms are creating heightened bio-security barriers. Though there is no concrete proof of how bird flu spread so far and so rapidly, it’s widely believed humans played a large role in spreading the disease across the Midwest. 

Jack Amick/Flickr

Mike Berners-Lee may not be an expert on the American Thanksgiving. A native of the United Kingdom, he's never actually had the pleasure of experiencing one. But as one of the world's leading researchers on the carbon footprint of—well—everything (he even wrote a book subtitled "The Carbon Footprint of Everything"), he's plenty familiar with the impacts of the foods that star in the traditional Thanksgiving Day spread.

If you could pick just one food to represent Iowa, what would it be?  In his new book, "The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America's Food," Mathew Frank has selected a dish for every state in the union.  We talk with Frank about his culinary map of the United States and the food he feels represents Iowa, the Loosemeat Sandwich.

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

Iowa hit a milestone in its avian influenza recovery this week by lifting the last quarantine on a commercial poultry farms affected by the virus. A Sac County turkey farm can now begin repopulation.

Commercial facilities hit by avian flu are required to wait three weeks after disinfection before they can repopulate. Seventy-two Iowa sites were affected by the 2015 bird flu outbreak, and more than 31 million birds were killed.

Photo by Amy Mayer

Cage-free eggs could be coming to a breakfast near you.

Several large food companies and restaurants, from Starbucks to McDonald's to Kellogg's, announced timelines this year for phasing out eggs laid in conventional cages, a victory for animal welfare advocates who have pushed for changes for years.

But there is more to housing hens than square inches and some egg farmers argue the cage-free barns are less humane than traditional hen housing.

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The cost of a dozen eggs has dropped about a dollar since August, when the price was roughly double from the previous year as a result of the worst outbreak of avian influenza in the nation’s history. But bird flu is only part of the reason egg prices were so high this summer.

Photo by Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

According to the United Nations, by 2050 the world will need to produce an additional 220 million tons of meat per year to satisfy global demand.

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with Harvest Public Media editor Jeremy Bernfeld and reporters Abby Wendel and Luke Runyon about their latest series on meat, Choice Cuts: Meat In America.

Photo by Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

All week, Harvest Public Media's series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

Beef, poultry and pork are staples of the American diet, baked into the country's very culture, and backbones of the agricultural economy. But lately, the meats have been saddled with some baggage.

Photo by Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

All week, Harvest Public Media’s series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

Flickr/BASF

Congress inched closer to setting a national standard for labeling genetically-modified foods Wednesday, even as farm-state Democrats and Republicans championed the safety of GMOs and voiced frustration that most consumers don't agree.

Photo by Amy Mayer

All week, Harvest Public Media’s series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

One of the most important tools of modern medicine is in jeopardy. In the 20th century, antibiotics turned once-lethal infections into manageable diseases. They also contributed to the transformation of meat production in America.

Massive Corn Crops Form Backbone of Meat Industry

Oct 20, 2015
Photo by Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

All week, Harvest Public Media's series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

Drive down a dirt road, a two-lane country highway, even many Interstates in the Midwest and the view out the window is likely to get monotonous: massive fields filled with acres of corn sprawled in all directions.

 

All week, Harvest Public Media’s series Choice Cuts: Meat In America is examining how the meat industry is changing the U.S. food system and the American diet.

Americans have a big appetite for everything meat. We smoke it, grill it, slice it, and chop it.

The typical American puts away around 200 pounds of beef, pork, and poultry every year . That’s true in many of the wealthiest countries. But developing countries are showing a growing appetitefor meat.

Harvest Public Media flie photo by Peggy Lowe

Have you noticed your grocery store's organic section starting to spill over? It's not your imagination. The organic sector is raking in the dough.

The country's certified organic farms sold $5.5 billion in organic products in 2014. That's a 72 percent increase since 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2014 survey of organic agriculture shows. The goods that brought in the most cash were organic milk, eggs, chicken, lettuce and apples, according to the survey.

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The way we think about food has changed a lot over the last 30 years. Today, we see yogurt and brown rice on mainstream grocery store shelves, but that wasn't always the case. Theresa Carbery, one of the founders of New Pioneer Food Coop in Iowa City, says in the early 1970s, she was a part of a buyers' club to get foods that weren't available in grocery stores. 

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