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One hundred seeds: That’s the number Minara Begum needs to plant in her Detroit backyard in order to grow enough vegetables such as squash, taro root and amaranth greens to feed her family for the year.

She learned to cook and garden at a young age in Bangladesh. In the two years since she moved to the U.S., she’s grown traditional South Asian crops to feed her family — and whoever visits — on any given day. For Begum, this is a way of life. But through Bandhu Gardens, in Detroit, Begum and her neighbors are able to leverage their culinary skills into an entrepreneurial venture.

Bandhu Gardens sells surplus vegetables that are grown in the backyards of about six families to a handful of popular area restaurants. Last year they sold 120 pounds of greens, beans and peppers and 25 pounds of squash to restaurant accounts.

This Garden Connects Bangladeshi Women With Restaurants — And Each Other

Photos Courtesy of Andrew Miller

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More Died On This WWII Ship Than On The Titanic And Lusitania Combined
On its final voyage, Germany's Wilhelm Gustloff carried soldiers and thousands of civilians, many of them children. Young adult author Ruta Sepetys revisits the ship's 1945 sinking in Salt to the Sea.

This is a great listen for any reader, history buff, or @reblogbookclub member.

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The Dark History Of Eating Green On St. Patrick's Day
Cupcakes, cookies and beer dyed green may mean party time in America. But in Ireland, there's a bitter history to eating green that harks back to the nation's darkest chapter.

Green food may mean party time in America, where St. Patrick’s Day has long been an excuse to break out the food dye. But in Ireland, where the Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, there’s a bitter history to eating green that harks back to the nation’s darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy.

The reason, Kinealy explains, is the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, which forced so many Irish to flee mass starvation in their homeland in search of better times in America and elsewhere. Those who stayed behind turned to desperate measures.

“People were so deprived of food that they resorted to eating grass,” Kinealy tells The Salt. “In Irish folk memory, they talk about people’s mouths being green as they died.”

NPR’s The Salt blog explores the world of French raw milk cheese, and talks to Bronwen Percival of Neal’s Yard Dairy, the creator of the Kickstarter “Raw Milk Microbiology for Cheesemakers”. Via The Salt

Unlocking France’s Secrets To Safer Raw Milk Cheese

Anglophone cheesemakers say translating a French government cheese manual will help them make safer raw milk cheese.

In the English-speaking world, our approach to making cheese for most of the last 60 years has been like a Texas gunslinger’s: kill bacteria, ask questions later. If it’s not pasteurized, it’s dangerous, the thinking goes. But in France, raw milk cheese is a very big deal, long considered safe and revered for its flavor. The country cultivates its 350-plus cheeses — many of which are made with raw milk — like children, claiming that the bacteria in the raw milk impart unique characteristics – grassy, metallic, buttery and so on.

In recent years, America, England and Australia have discovered the pleasures of making their own farmhouse cheeses with raw milk, but it seems the French still have some secrets.

In fact, French scientists seem to have figured out the Holy Grail of raw milk cheese: how to make it safer. And a lot of how they do it comes down to how to use good bacteria to battle the bad ones.

Learning those French secrets could help cheesemakers in the Anglophone world make safer and more delicious cheese, says Bronwen Percival, a cheese buyer with Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. So she’s spearheading a Kickstarter effort to raise about $20,000 to translate a technical French government manual on cheese microbiology into English.

“Over the past five to ten years, we’ve been more interested in what makes cheese tick,” says Percival. Like how it grows, how it changes — the technical stuff. But understanding cheese microbiology is “not the kind of thing you can just look up on the Internet,” she says. Understanding the microbial communities of raw milk is only the beginning. Percival and others in the tight-knit Anglophone artisan cheese community want to learn to harness the good microbes to block the bad microbes, like listeria and E. coli, that make people sick.

“Instead of having a war of annihilation on microbes, we should be working with them,” Percival says.

Check out the full post

(Photo ©2014 NPR.org)

They’re seemingly unavoidable on Instagram these days: photos of bright yellow egg yolks nestled in a fluffy bed of egg whites, like the sun framed by billowy clouds. They’re called cloud eggs, and they’re pretty enough to look like a taste of heaven … which is probably why people are obsessively whipping them up and sharing their pictures on social media.

Yet the latest food fad du jour is actually a modern spin on a nearly 400-year-old recipe.

“They are basically a very, very old dish. It’s essentially something called Eggs in Snow, which the French have been making for centuries. And it’s suddenly taking off on Instagram,” says Daniel Gritzer, the culinary director at Serious Eats.

He points to a recipe for Oeufs à la Neige (eggs in snow), in Le Cuisinier François, a seminal cookbook published in 1651, just as France was beginning a revolution in cookery that would make it the culinary leader of the world for centuries.

Cloud Eggs: The Latest Instagram Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old

Photo: Maria Godoy/NPR

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, it’s traditional to break the fast in mosques and homes. In fact, you’re supposed to be in congregation with others.

“It’s almost like the Christmas for Muslims,” jokes Omar Salha. “When you have on Christmas day everyone gathered with family members—it just doesn’t seem right that during Ramadan you’re breaking fast alone.”

When Salha was a graduate student in his native London, he felt especially bad for his classmates who were far from home, and left on their own during Ramadan. So with a handful of donated cookies and chips (or “biscuits” and “crisps” if you’re feeling British), Salha started what he called Open Iftar. Students from many different countries sat down in a park, and broke bread together.

While the event was initially started for students, many far from their homes in Muslim-majority countries, it quickly expanded — incorporating people of different faiths, or no faith at all, or those who just happened to be passing by. Since that first event in 2011, Salha has worked with groups launching Open Iftars around the world, hosting tens of thousands of people—from Turkey to Canada, the U.K. to Zambia. He has also extended it to a larger organization, the Ramadan Tent Project, which does charitable events throughout the year.

This Dinner Party Invites People Of All Faiths To Break Bread Together

Photo: Courtesy of Ramadan Tent Project (RTP) Open Iftar in Portland, Ore.

This month, I ventured to ask the man behind the counter at a Whole Foods Market what kind of shrimp he was selling. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I think they’re just normal shrimp.” I glanced at the sustainable seafood guide on my phone. There were 80 entries for shrimp, none of them listed “normal.”

What about the cod? Was it Atlantic or Pacific? Atlantic. How was it caught? I asked. “I’m not sure,” he said, looking doubtfully at a creamy fish slab. “With nets, I think. Not with harpoons.”

The shrimp had a blue sticker shaped like a fish on it, which appeared to be some type of official approval. Plus, they were on sale. I bought half a pound.

I Want To Eat Fish Responsibly. But The Seafood Guides Are So Confusing!

Image by intraprese/Getty Images

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About half of all U.S. deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes are linked to poor diets, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

And eating more — or less — of just 10 types of food can help raise or lower the risk of death from these causes.

Scientists at Tufts University identified the foods that seem to contribute the most to the risk. At the top of the list? Salt. Next, the high intake of red meat and processed meats such as bacon was linked to 8 percent of the deaths. And sugary drinks were a factor in 7.4 percent of the deaths.

Eating More — Or Less — Of 10 Foods May Cut Risk Of Early Death

Photos by: Paul Taylor/Getty Images (top) and John Lawson/Belhaven/Getty Images (bottom)

If you crack open a beer this Fourth of July, history might not be the first thing on your mind. But for Theresa McCulla, the first brewing historian at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the story of beer is the story of America.

“If you want to talk about the history of immigration in America, or urbanization or the expansion of transportation networks, really any subject that you want to explore, you can talk about it through beer,” McCulla says.

Since taking the job earlier this year, she has combed through the Smithsonian’s archives and pulled out treasures that show beer’s part in American history — whether that has to do with advertising, technology, gender roles or even popular entertainment.

Pointing to some sheet music in the collection for a song called “Budweiser Is a Friend of Mine,” she explains that the tune premiered on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Follies in 1907.

“The lyrics of the song tell the story of a man who goes out drinking in a bar and sings about how he prefers his Budweiser to his wife, because his beer does not talk back to him,” McCulla says. “But the song concludes with his wife pouring him a schooner of Budweiser at home so he does not need to drink elsewhere.”

How The Story Of Beer Is The Story Of America

Photos: Underwood Archives/Getty Images; National Museum of American History, Archives Center

Gillian Harris, among the world’s foremost experts on picky eating in children and a consultant and clinical psychologist at the University of Birmingham in the UK, says, “You want the child to look at the vegetable, taste the vegetable, get used to the vegetable and eat that vegetable when they’re 7 or 8.”

In other words, getting your kid to eat veggies through subterfuge — whether via awesome pops or in those now ubiquitous pouches that let children squeeze a mix of fruits and kale/carrot/parsnip/other vegetables into their mouths through a makeshift straw — sets the bar too low. Your child must actually learn to like veggies, weird textures and all.

Save Hide And Seek For The Playground: Why Kids Should See Their Veggies

Illustration: Alex Reynolds/NPR

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Eighteen years ago, on New Year’s Eve, David Fisher visited an old farm in western Massachusetts, near the small town of Conway. No one was farming there at the time, and that’s what had drawn Fisher to the place. He was scouting for farmland.

“I remember walking out [to the fallow fields] at some point,” Fisher recalls. “And in the moonlight – it was all snowy – it was like a blank canvas.”

On that blank canvas, Fisher’s mind painted a picture of what could be there alongside the South River. He could see horses tilling the land – no tractors, no big machinery – and vegetable fields, and children running around.

This is David Fisher’s American Dream. It may not be the conventional American Dream of upward economic mobility. But dreams like his have a long tradition in this country. Think of the Puritans and the Shakers and the Amish. These American dreams are the uncompromising pursuit of a difficult ideal.

By Returning To Farming’s Roots, He Found His American Dream

Photos: Dan Charles/NPR

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Samin Nosrat has become known as the chef who taught Michael Pollan to cook, after the famed food writer featured her in his book Cooked and his Netflix show of the same name.

Now, she’s sharing her wisdom with the masses in her new, illustrated cookbook called Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking. The key to good cooking, she says, is learning to balance those elements and trust your instincts, rather than just follow recipes.

Nosrat’s own formal culinary education came at Chez Panisse, the legendary restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., founded by Alice Waters. She first went there as a diner, then asked for a job and got one, working her way up. And it was while cooking at Chez Panisse that Nosrat had the revelation that eventually led to this cookbook — that salt, fat acid and heat are the fundamental elements to good food.

“The elements and the tenets of professional cooking don’t always get translated to the home cook,” she tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “Recipes don’t encourage you to use your own senses and use your own judgement. And salt, fat, acid and heat can be your compass when you maybe don’t have other tools.”

Nosrat frees her readers to use their own senses instead of measuring cups.

She says we should salt things until they taste like the sea – which is a beautiful image, but also sounds like an awful lot of salt.

An Illustrated Guide To Master The Elements Of Cooking — Without Recipes

Illustrations: Courtesy of Wendy MacNaughton

Like politics and music, the question of whether to eat moldy food can divide families, with relatives’ admonishments reverberating in one’s head for years.

“Every time I throw out moldy bread, I can still hear my dad lecturing me: ‘That’s perfectly good! Just cut that part off! It’s penicillin!’ ” says Shawna Iwaniuk, a graphic designer in Alberta, Canada. “But … I just can’t.”

So, who’s right? Is the furry green stuff a death knell for a baguette, or just a minor setback?

Is It Safe To Eat Moldy Bread?

Illustration: Alex Reynolds/NPR

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Fishing lore is full of tales about “the one that got away,” and fishermen have been known to exaggerate the size of their catch. The bragging problem is apparently so bad, Texas even has a law on the books that makes lying about the size or provenance of a fish caught in a tournament an offense that could come with a felony charge.

But in 19th-century Japan, some enterprising fishermen found a foolproof way to record trophy catches. (Some versions of this origin story suggest they did so at the emperor’s behest.) The method was known as gyotaku, or “fish rubbing,” and allowed fishermen to print inked fish onto paper — creating a permanent record of their size. They used a nontoxic sumi-e ink, a black ink traditionally used in both writing and painting which could be easily washed off. Once the print was made, the fish was either released, if it was still alive, or sold at market.

How Fishermen’s Bragging Rights Gave Birth To Fine Art

Credit: (top) Courtesy of Heather Fortner, (bottom) Courtesy of Derek Yoshinori Wada

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Georgia’s winemaking heritage goes back 8,000 years and centers on the qvevri, a cavernous terra-cotta pot shaped like an egg, lined with beeswax and buried to the mouth underground. But these ancient vessels were sidelined by the industrial wine production dictated by seven decades of Soviet rule. Over the past 10 years, however, qvevri wine has slowly recovered. Today, it is a calling card for Georgian wine around the world.

Georgia’s Giant Clay Pots Hold An 8,000-Year-Old Secret To Great Wine

Photo credits: (top) Daniella Cheslow for NPR (bottom) via Wikimedia