The Salt

Your attention please, everyone. Scientists have discovered a new taste — and its name is, well, a mouthful.

To the ranks of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami, researchers have added a sixth: "oleogustus." Announced in the journal Chemical Senses last month, oleogustus is Latin for "a taste for fat."

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: We learn to make a "counterfeit" version of duck confit, a classic French dish that traditionally can take days to prepare.

Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms

Jul 31, 2015

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don't plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

"We've traditionally raised about an acre and a half of pretty intensively managed produce, so it's a very productive acre and a half," Eric Reuter says.

Many of the foods that we chow down on every day were invented not for us, but for soldiers.

Energy bars, canned goods, deli meats — all have military origins. Same goes for ready-to-eat guacamole and goldfish crackers.

Chimpanzees are like us in many ways. They can cook, they enjoy a good drink here and there, they share about 95 percent of our DNA.

Artists Transform Coffee Spills Into Masterpieces

Jul 30, 2015

Ever splashed yourself with coffee or sat a dripping cup down on a white tablecloth? Then you're well aware of the beverage's staining powers. But where some see a ruined shirt, others have found a canvas.

For artist Maria Aristidou, it all started with a latte. "I was working on another commission using watercolors, when all the sudden, I spilled all over the drawing," she says.

Do Fish Names Encourage Fishy Business?

Jul 30, 2015

Order a rockfish at a restaurant in Maryland, and you'll likely get a striped bass. Place the same order in California, and you could end up with a vermilion rockfish, a Pacific Ocean perch or one of dozens of other fish species on your plate.

This jumble of names is perfectly legal. But it's confusing to diners — and it can hamper efforts to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud, says the ocean conservation group Oceana.

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, by surface area, and it has something the other Great Lakes do not: stable populations of mostly native fish species.

But scientists say a key fish in Superior's food web is now in trouble because of mild winters and an appetite for caviar in Europe.

There wasn't much demand for lake herring 10 years ago. It used to be fed to mink and used as fertilizer, according to Craig Hoopman, a commercial fisherman in Wisconsin who fishes around Lake Superior's Apostle Islands.

Summertime is the perfect time to indulge in a refreshing cocktail on a balmy night. But before you reach for that minty mojito or sweet sangria, consider stepping out of your modern-day comfort zone and going back to the drinks of 100 years ago.

"Some of the best cocktails that we think about today — the martini, the daiquiri, the Manhattan — those all came out between the 1860s and Prohibition," says Derek Brown, an award-winning mixologist who has studied the history of alcohol in America.

Most people go vegetarian out of some combination of ethical, environmental or health concerns.

But to drop pounds? That could soon become another reason to go meatless. A meta-analysis published in early July shows that people who followed a vegetarian diet overall lost more weight than people on an average American diet.

There are about 140 million square miles of open ocean, and according to New York Times reporter Ian Urbina, much of it is essentially lawless. As Mark Young, a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander and former chief of enforcement for the Pacific Ocean, told Urbina, the maritime realm is "like the Wild West. Weak rules, few sheriffs, lots of outlaws."

Though tea strainers often come in brightly colored, sweet packaging with punny names like "the manatee," the lowly tea bag is often forgotten. Made from silk, plastic or paper, these bags are meant for one-time use only. Yet some artists are giving the tea bag a second life, letting their simple shapes and colors shine.

Colorado artist Wewer Keohane has been making art from spent tea bags for over 20 years. Sometimes she simply uses tea as a subtle dye, or pastes pieces of empty bags into an otherwise two-dimensional painting.

When the U.S. State Department released its annual human trafficking report on Monday, it told distressingly familiar tales of forced sex work and housekeepers kept against their will. But this year, one area got special attention: Slavery in the global supply chains of agriculture, fishing and aquaculture.

Water scarcity is driving California farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable, less-thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Nowhere is this truer than San Diego County, where water prices are some of the highest in the state.

Grapefruit trees shade the entrance to Triple B Ranches winery in northern San Diego County. The tasting room is a converted kitchen festooned with country knick knacks.

Editor's note: A version of this story was first published Aug. 1, 2014.

When Leanne Brown moved to New York from Canada to earn a master's in food studies at New York University, she couldn't help noticing that Americans on a tight budget were eating a lot of processed foods heavy in carbs.

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