The Salt

The Salt
2:25 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It's Hard Work

A woman holds the saffron crocus, during the saffron harvest in Herat, Afghanistan (left). Saffron flowers are collected in Saint Hippolyte, eastern France (right). Since the stigmas need to be picked from the flowers by hand, saffron is the world's most expensive spice.
Majid Saeedi/Getty Images; Maxppp /Landov

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 9:03 pm

Mechanization has made the farming of many crops β€” lettuce and tomatoes, among them β€” a lot less labor intensive. But some crops are still tended and harvested by hand, and it can be painstaking work.

How do you measure the labor intensity of crops? We thought there would be an easy answer to that, but there isn't. Some agricultural economists talk about labor input in terms of hours per acre, but that may not take into account the difficulty of the labor.

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The Salt
1:51 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Cutting Back On Carbs, Not Fat, May Lead To More Weight Loss

There's new evidence reaffirming that eating foods with fat β€” everything from avocados and salmon to dairy fat β€” doesn't make us fat.
eyecrave LLC iStock

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 6:18 pm

We've reported a lot this year about how there's a major rethinking of fat happening in the U.S.

Turns out, eating foods with fat β€” everything from avocados and nuts to dairy fat β€” doesn't make us fat.

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The Salt
5:47 am
Sun August 31, 2014

The Salmon Cannon: Easier Than Shooting Fish Out Of A Barrel

Across Washington State, hydroelectric dams are blocking salmon as they migrate to their spawning grounds. Enter the salmon cannon.
Ingrid Taylar Flickr

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 6:40 pm

Ever since rivers have been dammed, destroying the migration routes of salmon, humans have worked to create ways to help the fish return to their spawning grounds. We've built ladders and elevators; we've carried them by hand and transported them in trucks. Even helicopters have been used to fly fish upstream.

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The Salt
6:48 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Can Oxfam Nudge Big Food Companies To Do Right?

A campaign called Behind The Brands, led by Oxfam International, is trying to make the inner workings of the 10 biggest food companies in the world more visible to consumers.
iStockphoto.com

It's not always easy to connect the dots between the food we consume and the people who grow it, or the impact of growing and processing that food on the health of our planet.

But a campaign called Behind the Brands, led by Oxfam International, an advocacy organization dedicated to fighting poverty, is trying to make the inner workings of the 10 biggest food companies in the world more visible.

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The Salt
3:11 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Real Vanilla Isn't Plain. It Depends On (Dare We Say It) Terroir

Three scoops of vanilla ice cream made with vanilla beans from Mexico, Tahiti and Madagascar.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 11:49 am

Banish the phrase "plain vanilla" from your lexicon.

Why? Because vanilla is one of the most complex spices around, boasting at least 250 different flavor and aroma compounds, only one of which is vanillin, the stuff that can be made artificially in a lab (and is used in a lot of processed foods).

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The Salt
5:12 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

When Zero Doesn't Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food

About 84 percent of food products that contain trans fats still carry a "zero gram" label, which may mislead consumers, researchers say.
Tony Dejak AP

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 2:44 pm

Last we heard, the once ubiquitous trans fats had mostly disappeared from packaged cookies, muffins and french fries.

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The Salt
3:43 am
Thu August 28, 2014

How Foster Farms Is Solving The Case Of The Mystery Salmonella

Bob O'Connor, a Foster Farms veterinarian, holds an 11-day-old chick at a ranch near the town of Merced, in California's Central Valley.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 1:57 pm

Foster Farms, California's biggest chicken producer, has been accused of poisoning people with salmonella bacteria. After an outbreak last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture threatened to shut down three of the company's plants.

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The Salt
5:40 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Diplomats And Lawyers Try To Define 'Culturally Acceptable Food'

Tractors sit on a sugarcane plantation on the land of a Guarani-KaiowΓ‘ indigenous community in Brazil, where Oxfam has alleged "land grabs" unfairly take land from the poor. The United Nations is drafting voluntary guidelines for "responsible investment in agriculture and food systems" in response to such concerns.
Tatiana Cardeal Courtesy of Oxfam

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 6:31 pm

Here's a fine topic for a graduate seminar in anthropology: What makes food culturally acceptable? Cue discussions of values and taboos, tastes and traditions.

Now make room for diplomats and lawyers, because this question has popped up, improbably, during international negotiations at the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

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The Salt
4:43 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

At Houses Of Worship, Women Serve Food For A Higher Purpose

Ramaa Reddy Raghavan/Feet in 2 Worlds

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 4:09 pm

Behind the scenes of the feasts and meals at houses of worship, there's almost always an army of women (and a few men) who peel potatoes, stir stews, mash chickpeas, slice onions and make by hand the various breads essential to the central meal. They see this service as their religious calling. Here are a few stories from women in the New York City area.

Buddha's Food Is Simple By Design

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The Salt
7:31 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Science Crowns Mozzarella The King Of Pizza Cheese

Any way you slice it, Americans are obsessed with pizza. One in eight of us are noshing it on any given day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the average American consumes pizza about 39 times a year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

The signature of a great American-style pizza is not the toppings du jour but the cheese: hot, gooey mozzarella, with big, dark splotches of caramelization.

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