The Salt

Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. But Laura Martinez faced an obstacle that many people thought would make that dream impossible to fulfill: The 31-year-old chef is blind.

It took two years for Martinez to open La Diosa, her tiny restaurant in Chicago, this past January. In addition to her white chef's jacket, Martinez wears dark sunglasses when she works.

One evening last July, Nat Bradford walked along rows of White Bolita Mexican corn at his Sumter, S.C., farm, and nearly wept. All 1,400 of the corn plants had been overtaken almost overnight by corn smut, recalls Bradford, who's also a landscape architect. The smut, from a fungus called Ustilago maydis, literally transforms each corn kernel into a bulbous, bulging bluish-grey gall. It is naturally present in the soil and can be lofted easily into the air and onto plants.

Molten mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and yeast are the aromas that punctuate summer in Rome.

On a recent day, 7-year-old Filippo Virgo has a hankering for pizza — a classic of the Eternal City.

The problem is that Filippo has celiac disease. This means he gets sick from eating gluten — a protein found in wheat and other grains. Pizza is usually out of bounds. And, for a second-grader, that's a travesty.

Filippo's family heads inside Il Tulipano Nero, a classic Italian restaurant — right down to the checkered tablecloth.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: Making mayonnaise that's just as delicious as, if not better than, what comes out of the jar.

Trying to find healthy food at a state fair awash with deep-fried Oreos and foot-long corn dogs is no easy task.

At the Iowa State Fair, one of the rites of passage is trying food on a stick.

But dietitian Nikki Stahr, who works for the Iowa-based Hy-Vee grocery chain, is running a booth at the fair promoting healthy eating and portion control.

She has her work cut out for her.

There's an old fashioned hand-dipped ice cream stand and a cookie booth right across from her, so she's got some competition for her message of healthy eating.

We've all heard the advice about the importance of filling our bellies in the morning. It's a notion that's based on a blend of intuition, cultural tradition and science.

Some of the earliest evidence goes back to the 1960s when pioneering researchers in Alameda County, Calif., began documenting the effects of everyday habits. Their long-term study linked eating breakfast — along with a host of other lifestyle choices — to good health and longevity.

Food Waste And Beef Fat Will Be Making Airplanes Soar

Aug 20, 2015

What do beef tallow and manure have in common with t-shirts and pine needles? Turns out you can make high-quality, low-carbon transportation fuel with all of them. A growing number of biofuel producers are teaming up with farms, meatpackers and waste management companies to tap gassy waste to meet new demand for renewable jet fuel and diesel for vehicles.

In a grassy Vermont field as a horse skitters in the distance, dancer Chatch Pregger is scaling a makeshift barn. He stretches his arms outward, holding an E for East in his hand. As the chicken feathers on his head flutter in the breeze, it's easy indeed to imagine him as a graceful weathervane rooster.

One of the most prestigious names in health care is taking a stand on food.

This week, Cleveland Clinic announced it would sever ties with McDonald's. As of Sept. 18, the McDonald's branch located in the Cleveland Clinic cafeteria will turn off its fryers and close its doors for good. Its lease will not be renewed.

Judging by some of the most pessimistic reports from California these days, the place is doomed. You can read all about the folly of trying to build cities in a desert.

Just this week, economists at the University of California, Davis, estimated that water shortages will cost the state's economy $2.7 billion this year. Many farmers are limiting the economic damage by ransacking the environment instead, draining underground aquifers.

Across the U.S., small farmers have been struggling for years with low commodity prices and rising production costs. Even for organic farmers, who can justify higher prices, making a profit is tough.

But throughout the Midwest, a new farm-to-table strategy is giving a boost to some farmers.

The Chipotle Cultivate Festival in Kansas City, Mo., on July 18 had it all: an indie pop band onstage, long lines at the beer booths. It was like a Grateful Dead concert, only with free burritos.

But this and the three other Chipotle Cultivate events held across the country this summer were more than just a classic summertime music festival. Billed as offering "food, ideas and music," the festival offers a chance to "learn a free burrito," by going through four exhibits.

Fortunately for those of us who are suckers for novelty, every year fruits and vegetables seem to come in more bewitching colors, shapes and flavors. In recent years, we've been transfixed by Glass Gem Corn and the vibrant orange Turkish eggplant.

In The Upper Midwest, Summertime Means Fish Boils

Aug 18, 2015

Long ago, when settling the Great Lakes, Scandinavian immigrants brought with them an ingenious method of feeding lots of people, on the cheap.

A century later, coastal communities dotting the Midwest carry on what has become a tradition that is part meal, part spectacle. It's called the "fish boil."

Mark Weborg, whose family immigrated to the area in the 1800s, says his family has been doing fish boils for generations.

Carbohydrates are a rich source of energy. That's exactly why some of us may feel a bit conflicted about them, since several recent studies and diets have suggested we should cut them to lose weight. (The latest study concluded that total calories matter most if you want to shed pounds.)

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