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Food

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Chances are, a university would not be the first location you’d think about if you were setting up a food pantry to assist the needy in the farm belt of the Midwest.

So hats off to a group of enterprising students at the University of Missouri at Columbia who recognized that there were members of their campus community who couldn’t afford to buy food -- and then did something about it. The student-run Tiger Pantry, which opened its doors on campus last fall, has provided free food to 1,300 needy students and employees so far this year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Botanical Garden pulses with green life: plants, flowers, trees, fruits, herbs and vegetables. Visits to the vast space feel peaceful, but the gardens themselves are also purposeful. They're not just lovely, they're useful and necessary.

That idea runs through the garden's year-long series, Foodology.

Fran Collin

UC Berkeley Journalism Professor Michael Pollan has devoted a good deal of his career to examining the food we eat in today’s society and the hazards of much of it.  Four of his books are New York Times Bestsellers and have received many other accolades: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In her travels around the world, photographer Elaine Blatt loves visiting local markets to people watch, to find new spices and eat the local foods.

Erin Williams

After only two years of doing business in north St. Louis, the grocery store known as the Old North Grocery Co-Op may soon close down.

Store manager Jill Whitmann says re-vamping the co-op’s business model to rely primarily on volunteers will help shore up more funds before the end of May, when the budget will tighten.

Local Food May Feel Good, But It Doesn't Pay

Mar 18, 2013

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

These days, farmers markets are springing up all over the place, from small towns to big cities. Locally grown food is booming, as shoppers invest more time, money and thought into what they eat. But not all is well in the local food movement.

As St. Louis Public Radio's Adam Allington reports, many of the farmers who supply local markets are barely getting by.

ADAM ALLINGTON, BYLINE: It's a chilly March morning in Elsah, Illinois, near the banks of the Mississippi. But inside Amy Cloud's greenhouse it's toasty warm.

Flickr | USACEpublicaffairs | file photo

The number of people who do not have enough food in the United States is a serious problem.

Information from the United States Department of Agriculture in 2011 shows:

  • 50.1 million people in the United States live in food insecure households
  • 33.5 million are adults
  • 16.7 million are children
  • 14.9% of all U.S. households are food insecure

Host Don Marsh talked with guests about the food crisis nationally as well as locally.

His guests were:

When Wal-Mart calls, Herman Farris always finds whatever the retailer wants, even if it's yucca root in the dead of winter. Farris is a produce broker in Columbia, Mo., who has been buying for Wal-Mart from auctions and farms since the company began carrying fruits and vegetables in the early 1990s.

During the summer and fall, nearly everything Farris delivers is grown in Missouri. That's Wal-Mart's definition of "local" — produce grown and sold in the same state. In winter, it's a bit tougher to source locally.

Twinkie hoarders, artists, and Ding Dong enthusiasts weren't the only consumers affected when Hostess started shutting down plants across America just a few weeks ago.

(via Flickr/SodanieChea)

Within approximately the last twenty years, Missouri ranks among the worst states in which the gap between rich and middle-income households has widened.  That’s according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we also take note of the report’s finding in which the gap between the very richest and the poor is even larger with the top 5 percent of Missouri households having an average income 11.7 times that of the bottom fifth.

Tens of millions of Americans can't follow the government's guidelines for healthful eating because they can't afford or access enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Sometimes it's because they live in what's known as a "food desert," places devoid of markets with a good variety of quality fresh foods.

Picture, if you can, a prehistoric Bobby Flay — an inventive 3 million-year-old version of the Food Network star chef. He's struggling to liven up yet another salad of herbs and twigs when inspiration strikes. "We've got grass here, and sedge," he says. "Grass and sedge, that's what this dish needs!"

His pals take a tentative taste of this nouvelle cuisine. Sedges usually aren't considered gourmet fare, after all, by these human ancestors. They're tough grasslike plants that grow in marshes. But wow! Not only is this a new taste sensation, it's found in many places.

In the fairy-tale world, a shiny red apple can lead to a poisonous end. But some see two genetically engineered green apple varieties, poised to become the first to gain U.S. Department of Agriculture approval, as similar harbingers of doom.

There's no question that cilantro is a polarizing herb. Some of us heap it onto salsas and soups with gusto while others avoid cilantro because it smells like soap and tastes like crushed bugs.

Thinking of going to a nice restaurant? Before you decide, you probably go online and read reviews of the place from other customers (or you listen to these actors read them to you). Online reviews of restaurants, travel deals, apps and just about anything you want to buy have become a powerful driver of consumer behavior. Unsurprisingly, they have also created a powerful incentive to cheat.

Standing outside the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op in Little Falls, Minn., there's not a lot going on. The pungent smell of fermentation that typically hangs in the air here is absent. And trucks piled high with corn are nowhere to be seen.

They're idled in part because of high corn prices. And it's unclear when that will change.

"Most of the industry is just breaking even in terms of profitability or actually running at slightly negative margins," says Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association.

Millions of college students are heading back to campus soon, and as any parent footing the bill knows, they're hungry for more than just knowledge — they want food, and lots of it, at all hours.

A fierce drought has been scorching crops this summer, but it's still too soon to know exactly how much of a hole it will burn in your wallet.

UPDATE 4:23 p.m.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has denied a call to ban the plastic additive BPA from food packaging. The action comes after government scientists found little reason to think people are being harmed by the chemical.

The FDA was responding to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which called for the ban on BPA, also known as bisphenol A, from any use where it comes in contact with food.

(via Flickr/clementine gallot)

Supporters say a bill that would allow convicted drug felons to be eligible for foods stamps is gaining momentum among Missouri lawmakers. The bill would repeal the state's lifetime ban on food stamps for drug felons.

Three Republicans and one Democrat in the House are sponsoring the bill, according to The Kansas City Star. The sponsors say it isn't fair that child molesters and murderers are eligible for food stamps, but people with felony drug convictions aren't.

(via Flickr/neil conway)

Four St. Louis chefs and one restaurant have been named as James Beard Award semifinalists.

In case you're not familiar with the awards, they are described as "the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America" on their website - or, as Time magazine put it, "the Oscars of the food world."

So, who are the noted locals? Here's the list, in alphabetical order:

(Libby Franklin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Root, a new restaurant from executive chef Brian Hardesty, opened in Richmond Heights a week ago today.  In the sixth installment of our series Sound Bites, created in partnership with Sauce Magazine, producer Libby Franklin checks in with Hardesty about his latest project, which seeks to shine a new light on old cuisine.

(Ken Light)

Michael Pollan thinks of himself as a writer, professor…and eater.  But many people would call him a food activist. The author of controversial books like The Ominvore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Pollan is known for his vivid critiques of industrial agriculture and the modern American diet.

Pollan is in St. Louis today for the St. Louis Speakers Series presented by Maryville University. He recently spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra about his views on food and agriculture – starting with what he sees as a healthy diet.

(via Flickr/The Consumerist)

If you've noticed your grocery bill has gotten higher lately, you're not imagining things.

Food prices in Missouri rose in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Missouri Farm Bureau's year-end Marketbasket Survey.

(Tower Grove Farmers' Market on Facebook)

As 2011 comes to a close, St. Louis Public Radio is taking a look back at the things and people that have had a good year. In the St. Louis region, local food--both the production and demand--makes that list.

(Screen Capture via Sauce Magazine Video directed by Work/Play)

2011 was a good year for St. Louis food trucks.

The mobile eats trend exploded on the St. Louis scene after one of the first trucks, Pi On The Spot, hit the pavement in 2010. Now, an ever-growing number of trucks and wagons take to the streets each day, tweeting out their locations so hungry diners can line up for a meal on the run.

As the holiday season begins, and tables fill with beloved people and food, it can sometimes be difficult for hosts and hostesses to keep the emphasis on fun and away from stress.  But with a little strategy and a few thoughtful tips, we hope your festivities can include extra deliciousness and minimal mad dashing.  This month on Sound Bites, our collaboration with Sauce Magazine, the Sauce ladies share some of their ideas for a fuss free holiday.

(Tim Lloyd for St. Louis Public Radio)

With one of the biggest meals of the year fast approaching, those who rely on St. Louis area food pantries for Thanksgiving may be in trouble. The USDA’s food assistance program is sending far less to agencies like the St. Louis Area Food Bank than in past years. And as Tim Lloyd reports, the shortfall is making it hard for the food banks to keep up with a rising need for help.

This month on Sound Bites, Sauce Magazine publisher Allyson Mace, managing editor Stacy Schultz, and senior staff writer Ligaya Figueras take us on a walk down memory lane as they celebrate ten years in print. From craft beer and locally sourced ingredients to foam and sous-vide, the Sauce team helps us remember the tastes that have defined the past decade of St. Louis food.

(Courtesy Sauce Magazine/ by Greg Rannells)

Urban agriculture has taken root in cities everywhere, including right here in the River City.  It comes in many forms: the community garden, the backyard vegetable patch, the rooftop bee colony.  But cultivating food in town can be complicated and wrought with challenges---so what is it that’s driving some city dwellers to skip the grocery store and get their hands dirty?   Libby Franklin reports in the next of our new series Sound Bites, created in partnership with Sauce Magazine.

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