Eliza Barclay | KUOW News and Information

Eliza Barclay

These days, it can be hard to ignore all the messages to eat less meat and more vegetables.

Last year, the World Health Organization used its megaphone to publicize the link between cancer and excessive red meat consumption.

Editor's note at 10:51 a.m. ET, Feb. 1: The original version of this post lacked a perspective from the food industry. That post also may have given the impression that NPR has a position on whether food ads should or should not be banned. A new version appears below and the original version follows.

Why is it that we haven't seen ads for cigarettes on television since the Nixon administration?

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Meet The Most Pampered Vegetables In America

Jan 25, 2016

There's a small corner of the restaurant world where food is art and the plate is just as exquisite as the mouthful.

In this world, chefs are constantly looking for new creative materials for the next stunning presentation.

The tiny community of farmers who grow vegetables for the elite chefs prize creativity, too, not just in what they grow but in how they grow it. They're seeking perfection, in vegetable form and flavor, like this tiny cucumber that looks like a watermelon — called a cucamelon.

Eating healthfully in America is hard. We have to contend with constant sugary and oily temptations, while pervasive ads coax us to eat these items day in and out.

The public health community generally agrees that regulations and taxes could help remind us of the potential health toll of the unhealthiest items — like beverages high in sugar — and keep us from consuming too much of them.

Every year some 2 million Americans get infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 of them die from these superbugs.

Superbugs are mostly a hospital problem: They're where these pathogens are often born and spread, and where the infected come for help. But hospitals are not where the majority of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is beating the drum again: We're consuming too much sodium and it's a reason we have such high rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Not me, you say? Well, chances are, yes, you.

Animal welfare advocates got major traction this year pushing for cage-free eggs.

In September, McDonald's pledged it would move to 100-percent cage-free eggs in its supply chain. And while the movement was already underway, this announcement seemed to really set off a domino effect.

Some of the biggest egg producers in the U.S., including Rembrandt Foods, pledged allegiance to cage-free. Packaged good behemoths like Nestle and fast food chains like Subway did as well. (See the list of companies below.)

Tour the produce section of a modern grocery store and you may conclude that we live in an age of unprecedented variety and abundance.

Indeed, it's never been easier to experience exotic fruit flavors like durian, dragon fruit or lychee and find staple fruits like blueberries and oranges pretty much any time of year.

If egg freezing once sounded like science fiction, those days are over. Women now hear about it from their friends, their doctors and informational events like Wine and Freeze.

Shady Grove Fertility Center in the Washington, D.C., area hosts Wine and Freeze nights for prospective patients every few months. Fifteen or so women in their 30s gathered at one recently over wine, brownies and sticky buns. A doctor explained the procedure, the costs and the odds of frozen eggs resulting in a baby — which decline as a woman ages.

It's a tantalizing idea, isn't it, that we could burn stored fat simply by nibbling or sipping on something that tastes good.

Plenty of companies are now capitalizing on the allure of "metabolism boosting" foods and drinks. Among the most-hyped substance is green tea — for its supposed powers as an aid for weight loss and weight maintenance.

Earlier this month, I reported on a test for women who are exploring egg freezing as an option to preserve their fertility for the future.

My story looked at how the fertility industry uses the test to help guide patients in making a major life decision like egg freezing, despite the fact that it's an unreliable test that can provide very ambiguous information about a woman's egg supply.

If you've consumed coconut oil or coconut meat lately, there's a reasonable chance it was imported from Thailand. And if it was, there's an even better chance the farmer who grew that coconut had a monkey fetch it from a tall tree.

Public health advocates have argued that one of the best ways to fight obesity would be to tax the sugary drinks that science has implicated as a big part of the problem.

Women concerned about their fertility can use a test to help decide whether they should freeze their eggs now or whether they still have time to have a baby.

If you're enjoying a late-summer fruit pie this Labor Day, consider what went into growing and harvesting that fruit. Chances are, it took a lot of human hands to ensure its skin would be perfect and smooth when you bought it.

Most of America's pigs dine on slop or corn-and-soy-based feed — pretty boring stuff.

But some pigs feast upon truly delectable food that's just past its prime: bread, dough, pastries and other bakery byproducts. Farmers have even been known to feed their pigs Cap'n Crunch and chocolate.

It's that time of year when some gardeners and tomato-coveting shoppers face a vexing question: What on earth am I going to do with all these tomatoes I grew (or bought)?

A select few up to their elbows in tomatoes may have an additional quandary: How am I going to prepare different kinds of tomatoes to honor their unique qualities?

We're not shy about our affinity for the Cherokee Purple, a purplish package of sweet, acid and savory tomato greatness.

If, like me, you're an amateur taster of beer and wine, inevitably you've asked yourself why you don't taste that hint of raspberry or note of pine bark that someone else says is there.

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.

Bespoke, artisanal water could, conceivably, be a thing. Artisanal ice is real, after all.

The artisanal water we discovered recently is, however, just a vivid figment of filmmaker Paul Riccio's imagination.

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.

Sugar gives the human brain much pleasure. But not everyone revels in cupcakes with an inch of frosting, or milkshakes blended with candy bars, though these crazily sugary treats are increasingly the norm.

As Dan Charles reported on Monday, yogurt has a way of igniting passions. In his story of arson, the flames were literal.

Once you start looking, it's really not hard to find people — even entire countries — deeply attached to this nourishing and calming food.

Most aspiring chefs long for the white hat, the gleaming kitchen, the fancy menu.

But Nigeria-born Tunde Wey stumbled into a different version of the (American) chef's dream. He wanted to see the country and share the food of his West African childhood with friends and strangers along the way.

So a few months ago, he packed up his knives and his spices at his home in Detroit and started crisscrossing the U.S. by Greyhound bus.

Chocolate might be headed toward a crisis, depending on whom you ask.

That's at least what the 2015 Cocoa Barometer has to say. It's an overview of sustainability issues in the cocoa sector, written by various European and U.S. NGOs, and was released in the U.S. this week. And what they're really worried about is the people who grow the beans that are ground up to make our beloved treat.

There were plenty of tasty tidbits packed into the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report that came out back in February.

As we reported, the panel of nutrition experts that wrote the report said it was OK to eat an egg a day. The scientific evidence now shows it won't raise the amount of LDL cholesterol – the bad kind of cholesterol — in your blood or raise the risk of heart disease.

What are the makings of a great salad? You need fresh greens, of course, and then a layer of colorful vegetables like tomatoes and carrots.

That's a good start. But to help the body absorb more of the nutrients packed into this medley, you may want to add something else: a cooked egg.

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