Food & Drink

Amy Mayer/IPR

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

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

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

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

Amy Mayer/IPR

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

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

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

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media file photo

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

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

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

The new farm bill became law in February

Peter Gray/Harvest Public Meeting

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

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

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

 

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

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

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

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

http://terrywahls.com/

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

This hour, we learn how she beat progressive MS.

Peter Gray/Harvest Public Meeting

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

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

Monastery Candy

Feb 14, 2014
Monastery Candy

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

Tuukka Koski / Little, Brown and Company

THE MAST BROTHERS' RED WINE BONBONS

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

 GANACHE

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

COATING

  • Dark chocolate, 8 ounces, melted and tempered

Make the Ganache

Tuukka Koski / Little, Brown and Company

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

daniellehelm

Approximately 11 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder.  These diseases are hard to understand, difficult to treat and often deadly. 

Blue Zones Project

Communities like Okinawa in Japan and Loma Linda in California are home to some of the longest-living people in the world. These communities are called “Blue Zones”, a phrase coined by National Geographic writer and explorer, Dan Buettner.

Almost two years ago, the Blue Zones Project became integrated in many Iowa communities, with the goal of fostering healthy behavior so residents live long and happy lives.

Amy Mayer/IPR

Pork producers across the country are continuing to grapple with a virus that’s killing their piglets. Experts estimate Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus has already killed about 1 million baby pigs and the disease shows no sign of abating.

Emily Woodbury

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

whitneyinchicago

Cupcakes have taken the U.S. by storm in the last few years; but cakes, large and small, have always been an important part of our culture.  Host Charity Nebbe discusses family recipes and gourmet innovation with Evelyn Birkby, Iowa’s most famous homemaker and columnist for the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel.

amber e/ Love Nest

The holidays bring families together and sometimes that can cause stress.  In fact, navigating family togetherness when hurt and dysfunction abounds can seem impossible.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

After first gaining popularity in New Orleans, the Turducken—that’s a chicken stuffed inside a duck inside a turkey-- has made its way onto some of the more adventurous Thanksgiving tables in Iowa. For two restaurant owners in Oxford, it’s a way to share the cuisine of a city they left years ago. Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren reports.    

Jason Mrachina

According to regional food coordinators, there is no local food network like the one in Iowa. The connection between farmers and distributors is very strong, and the network continues to grow larger every year. Even so, about 80% of the food Iowans consume is from out of state.

TSelrahc

One thing Midwesterns do better than everyone else (or at least claim to do better than everyone else) is bake pie.  Host Charity Nebbe speaks with Peggy Wolff, editor of the new book Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie about Midwestern cuisine, culture and of course pie.

USDA

Iowa’s school districts spent six percent of their food budgets buying from local farms in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Census. That means efforts to fill cafeteria trays with local foods have plenty of room to grow.

Clay Masters / IPR

Organic food is a hot market in the U.S. The Organic Trade Association says that sales over the last five years have grown 35 percent. But there’s a problem in the supply chain – not enough organic grain.

Many producers in the farm belt aren’t willing to take on organic production despite a hefty price premium. That has left organic food companies scrambling to find enough raw ingredients for the products that hit grocery store shelves. Just as corn and soybeans dominate conventional processed food and meat, these same grains are often key ingredients for organic foods.

On this News Buzz version of River to River, host Ben Kieffer cycles through stories about Iowa's relationship with China, an Arizona company's apparent phone scam targeting Iowans, an investigation into traffic stops, a harvest summary, the nutritional benefits of eating soup, and a new film about Iowa's 2012 caucuses.

Clay Masters / IPR

   

Thanks to tight competition, hog farmers are feeling a push to expand or get out of the business. That means indoor confined animal feeding operations – or CAFOs – are growing even in the most environmentally sensitive areas.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

Today is World Food Day.  Observed every year since 1981, it focuses on the problem of hunger around the globe.  Also, this week is the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines and some of the most innovative thinkers in the fight against hunger have come to Iowa.

I-5 Design & Manufacture

Recent movements addressing the obesity epidemic or industrial agriculture's dominance attempt to change how Americans eat.  Tracie McMillan sets out to understand the American food system from the bottom-up in  her book, “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at WalMart, Applebees, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.”  Host Charity Nebbe asks McMillan where our food comes from and how we can eat healthier. 

Torch Magazine

Last month the University of Iowa was ranked as the #1 party school by The Princeton Review.  Binge drinking is a problem on not only the Iowa City campus, but on college campuses across Iowa and the U.S. What is the nature of binge drinking and what can be done to curb it?

Flickr

Cupcakes have taken the U.S.

What's Happening at Iowa Farmers' Markets

Jun 5, 2013
Photo by Phil Roeder

Many farmers' markets in Iowa have grown over the last couple decades.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with market directors from around the state to hear about why that has happened.  She hears from Director of the Downtown Farmers' Market in Des Moines Kelly Foss, Cedar Falls Farmers' Market Master Joe Bohr, and Washington Farmers' Market Master Bob Shepherd.  Also, get to the heart of the matter with author of "Farmers' Markets of the Heartland" Janine MacLachlan, who traveled to eight Midwestern states to document her farmers' market tour.

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