Food

photo of Lance
Suze Smith

Host Jill Spears & gardening gurus Lance Swigart & Lulu Volckhausen chat about current conditions in the garden & take calls from Redlands Mesa, Montrose & even Monticello, Utah.

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the "know where your food comes from" movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.

Della Curry gave a free lunch to a hungry child that may be costly.

Curry is the kitchen manager — the lunch lady — at the Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colo. She set off a national debate this week when she said that last Friday, "I had a first-grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn't have enough money for lunch," Curry told Denver's KCNC TV. "Yes, I gave her a lunch."

And shortly thereafter, Curry was fired.

food truck
District 51

In Mesa County, 42 percent of children qualify for free or reduced lunch.  

During the summer, many of these same kids qualify for a meal program when school is out. 

Usually Mesa Valley School District 51 offers this program at four or five schools, but this year there’s only enough funding to have it at two.

However, this summer the district plans on bringing meals to some students.

With the help of a $50,000 grant from the Western Colorado Community Foundation it purchased a food truck from Denver. 

Tyson Foods, the country's biggest poultry producer, is promising to stop feeding its chickens any antibiotics that are used in human medicine.

It's the most dramatic sign so far of a major shift by the poultry industry. The speed with which chicken producers have turned away from antibiotics, in fact, has surprised some of the industry's longtime critics.

For decades, the farmers who raise chickens, pigs and cattle have used antibiotics as part of a formula for growing more animals, and growing them more cheaply.

This piece comes from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.

Pesticide-free? Nurtured with organic fertilizer? No antibiotics?

Ask any shopper, and you're bound to find mixed answers for what an organic label means.

Now, an association is trying to draw funding from something called a "checkoff" to pay for consumer advertising and research. For a checkoff to work, each farmer pays a small amount. For example, a penny-per-bushel of wheat or a dollar per cow would generate millions of dollars in pooled funding that could pay for splashy ad campaigns.

It's not the salt shakers on our tables that explain why Americans consume way too much sodium. It's the processed foods we buy in grocery stores.

Roast rack of lamb or a platter of smoked, glazed ham — which dish should be the centerpiece of the Easter table?

Lamb is rich in religious symbolism: A sacrificial lamb was first served by Jewish people on Passover, and Christians often refer to Jesus as the lamb of God. But ham feeds more guests and makes tastier leftovers.

Remember that old movie trope, in which the mousy girl who never gets noticed takes off her eyeglasses and — voila! — suddenly, everyone can see she was beautiful all along?

Well, a similar sort of scenario is starting to play out in the world of produce in the U.S. (minus the sexist subtext).

For the past two years, at an undisclosed location in the Upper Midwest, a large commercial egg farm has been probed with every tool of modern science. Researchers have collected data on feed consumed, eggs produced, rates of chicken death and injury, levels of dust in the air, microbial contamination and dollars spent. Graduate students have been assigned to watch hours of video of the hens in an effort to rate the animals' well-being.

American state fairs have gotten competitive about wowing fair-goers (and the media) with their ever more outrageous concessions.

Among the immoderate new dishes of 2014? The cheeseburger stuffed with macaroni and cheese on a Krispy Kreme bun at the California State Fair, and the deep-fried breakfast on-a-stick at the Minnesota State Fair.

Monica Wiitanen, outdoor oven
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Cottage food laws are on the books in almost every state. These statutes allow people to make food products in their home kitchens and sell their goods directly to consumers. In Colorado two bills would expand the state's three-year-old Cottage Foods Act.  

Monica Wiitanen is adding wood to her outdoor brick oven. She uses it to bake artisanal breads that she makes in her home kitchen. 

For many years, if a public school district wanted to serve students apples or milk from local farmers, it could face all kinds of hurdles. Schools were locked into strict contracts with distributors, few of whom saw any reason to start bringing in local products. Those contracts also often precluded schools from working directly with local farmers.

Many people will see the snow that's currently blanketing much of the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. as a nuisance coating sidewalks and roads. Others are celebrating it as an excuse to spend the day swooshing down a hill.

As for me, I like to think of snow as food.

bread
flickr/chiotsrun

A bill to expand the Colorado Cottage Foods Act is scheduled to get its first hearing early next week. 

The act allows people to sell certain products made in an unlicensed home kitchen directly to consumers. 

House Bill 1102 seeks to broaden it. Republican Rep. Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction is one of the bill’s sponsors.

The political battle over immigration, now provoking a confrontation between Congress and the White House, touches all of us in one very direct way: our food. That salad mix, and those apples, may well have been harvested by workers who arrived here in the U.S. illegally.

This week, food culture. 

There are a lot of new trends and models when it comes to how we look at food.  There have been broad shifts towards local and organic food, but there’s also specific, organized changes.  To start off tonight’s program, we’ll talk with Mathew Coniset and Emma Stopher Griffin.  They both came to the North Fork Valley three years ago as interns on a farm.  Since then they became involved with a food movement known as Slow Food. 

As most people know, mushrooms love dark places. You can find them growing in the dim recesses of forests or at the foot of old trees. But is that where we get most of the mushrooms that end up in our hearty risottos and juicy portabella sandwiches?

The future of strawberry breeding at the University of California has been secured. Perhaps.

When it comes to organic certification, food producers must follow strict guidelines.

For an organic steak, for instance, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed, and the feed mix can't be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. Several consumer groups, though, say the recommended rules don't go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.

On Sunday, my mother sent me an email: "OMG! Watch this unbelievable cooking show!"

It wasn't spam, and my mother, who's 65, does not use OMG lightly.

The fuss was over a 20-minute video about a 91-year-old grandmother who cooks Italian classics in marijuana-infused butter.

When you think of the restaurant scene, Denver probably doesn't come to mind. But that's just the latest change for a city whose population has ballooned in the last couple of years, thanks in part to a nearby oil and gas boom. Top chefs are beginning to take notice.

Award-winning pastry chef Keegan Gerhard, for example, just opened a new location of his restaurant, D Bar, that is three times the size of his old one. His chef buddies wonder why he's in Denver.

Does a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale sound like your vegetable dream come true? Maybe so, if you're someone who's crazy for cruciferous vegetables and all the fiber and nutrients they pack in.

NOCO Cluster Wants To Boost Local Food's Economic Heft

Dec 2, 2014

More cities want to take eating local food from just a hip trend to an economic generator. But as with many grassroots movements, there can be some growing pains along the way. Northern Colorado advocates are trying a new model to spur growth and they’re borrowing ideas from the tech sector.

The cluster model is seen as a way to address those pains by bringing all the regional players together to solve problems affecting each piece of the supply chain that takes a locally-grown carrot from the ground to your plate.

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

When you donate to a food drive, do you ponder the nutritional labels of the can in your hand? Or do you grab a packet of ramen or a bag of marshmallows from the dark corners of your pantry and hope it hasn't expired?

Healthfulness isn't typically a well-intended food donor's top concern, says hunger advocate Ruthi Solari. The ramen and marshmallows, along with a container of Crisco and a few other items, were basically the entire contents of a food box delivered to one of her volunteer's grandmothers who received food aid, Solari says.

It's a hot summer day outside Lincoln, Neb., and Jack Chappelle is knee-deep in trash. He's wading in to rotting vegetables, half-eaten burgers and tater tots. Lots of tater tots.

"You can get a lot of tater tots out of schools," Chappelle says. "It doesn't matter if it's elementary, middle school or high school. Tater tots. Bar none."

Coffee has been grown since at least the 13th century in places such as Indonesia, Ethiopia and Central and South America. Though it's not a traditional region for growing coffee, California is playing an increasingly big role in the future of this beloved and lucrative crop.

Sammy Venegas stands on a hillside in Goleta, Calif., outside Santa Barbara, that's shrouded in fog, thick with avocado trees, passion fruit and coffee plants. With a white bucket slung around his neck like a baby carrier, he picks only the reddest coffee beans.

There's an apple renaissance underway, an ever-expanding array of colors and tastes in the apple section of supermarkets and farmers markets.

Less visible is the economic machinery that's helping to drive this revolution. An increasing number of these new apples are "club apples" — varieties that are not just patented, but also trademarked and controlled in such a way that only a select "club" of farmers can sell them.

To understand the new trend, start with the hottest apple variety of recent years: Honeycrisp.

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