Small-Batch Butter Makers Revive a Treasured Treat

In the back of a small shop in a nondescript industrial park, a metal box the size of a kitchen island is humming. And clanking softly. And, well, slooshing.

Andrew McBath, tall and lanky, bends over the box, listening. "Every batch is different," he tells me. "Any moment now, you'll hear it change."

And he's right: In a moment, the box stops swishing and starts thudding, like fingers thumping gently on a taut water balloon. McBath cuts the power, raises the lid, and displays what he's been waiting for: a gleaming, craggy swath of butter, rising out of a froth of buttermilk.

It isn't much butter—the high-tech churn processes just 25 gallons of cream—but Banner Butter isn't focused on ...

World Bank on Turning Trash into Tempting Tastes

The World Bank is on a mission to end poverty and hunger by 2030, and it’s looking for chefs.

Yesterday (April 16), Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Superchef David Chang of Momofuku Restaurants kibitzed in the Bank’s sleek steel-and-glass atrium in Washington, D.C. about how the world’s toques can stop world hunger.

Remember, just a decade ago, most kitchens were closed off from dining rooms because guests didn’t want to see the people making their meals. Much ink has been spilled over the out-of-control celebrity of celebrity chefs, but one thing the World Bank knows is how to leverage resources.

The conversation took place in front of delegates from ...

While U.S. Economy Improves, Food Insecurity Lingers

Dawn Pierce of Boise, Idaho, still remembers the time her colleagues suggested a potluck lunch at work. “I called in sick that day because I couldn’t bring anything,” she tells The Plate. “I couldn’t afford it. I was so embarrassed.”

Pierce was a paralegal and a single mom who often found herself scrambling for her family’s next meal, but she kept up appearances. When she was laid off in 2010, she knew she really needed help.

And she’s one of about 49 million people scattered around the United States of all ages, races and backgrounds who have found themselves in the position of being food insecure at some point recently, according to ...

Death, Taxes and the Fight Against Junk Food

Some taxes just might make us healthier.

Benjamin Franklin, in 1789, pointed out that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Though to be fair, the same dismal sentiment had already popped up in 1726, in Daniel Defoe’s The Political History of the Devil. It’s a phrase on many of our minds on income tax day.

A new breed of taxes, however, now has the potential to make us both healthier and longer-lived. The latest of these went into effect this month inside the Navajo Nation, a 27,000-square-mile reservation home to 250,000 people, with territory extending into Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Known as the Healthy Diné Nation Act, ...

Swimming In Molasses

Would you have survived the Great Molasses Flood of 1919?

In the Grimm Brothers’ tale, Sweet Porridge, a magic kettle, run amok, drowns a town in porridge. In Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona, an out-of-control pasta pot inundates a village with noodles. In real life, however, food floods aren’t all that common - which perhaps is why, after they occur, we remember them in capital letters. (more…)

How Spam Helped Shape Hawaii

America's 50th state is known throughout the world for its beautiful beaches, volcanic vistas, exotic wildlife and tropical fruit. But there's one food product that is beloved over all others in Hawaii–Spam. What you may not know is that the much maligned meat in a can may have saved the islands during World War II.

Spam was originally created by Minnesota's Hormel Foods in 1937 as a way to help busy American housewives serve a quick and easy pork dish. The Spam brand name has long been a subject of speculation. Some say it's from the words "spiced ham." Others say its an acronym for "shoulders of pork and ham." Even Hormel isn't saying exactly. "The real answer ...

Blueberries, Already a Superfood, May Help Combat PTSD

Blueberries are not only scrumptious – they may be able to protect us from cardiovascular disease, cancer, memory loss, and maybe even PTSD in the future.

Bears go bats over blueberries. In blueberry season, bears will travel miles just to get their paws – well, lips – on a ripe and scrumptious blueberry patch. And an increasing amount of scientific evidence indicates that we should all be as pro-blueberry as the bears. (more…)

Drones: Coming Soon to a Farm Near You?

From smartphones in the field to driverless tractors, farming is rapidly evolving. The next logical move, some say, are drones.

"UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles, i.e. drones] are the natural extension of increasing the yield and the quality of the products we grow," Phil Hamm, agricultural drone evangelist and plant pathologist at Oregon State University, tells National Geographic's video team. That's because drones can fly over individual crop rows in vast fields and let farmers know which specific plants are infested with beetles or which ones could use more fertilizer, he says. This may prevent farmers from blanketing too many plants with nitrogen and water, saving them time and money in the end.

Rum: The Spirit That Fueled a Revolution

Would Americans have won independence from Britain without rum? Probably not.

On the eighteenth of April in 1775, Paul Revere–who gets a lot of credit for his famous midnight ride because Henry Wadsworth Longfellow found his name more poetic than that of William Dawes or Samuel Prescott–is said to have paused in Medford, Massachusetts, at the house of Isaac Hall.

His mission? Not only to warn of the approaching British, but likely, to toss back a slug or two of rum.

Medford, in Revere's day, was in the midst of the American rum boom, and Hall–as well as serving patriotically as captain of the local Minutemen–owned a distillery that turned out a rum said to ...

Tools: 6 Things to Know About Chopsticks

Here in the U.S., we love our sushi rolls, ramen, and carryout Chinese. This means, of course, that we’re pretty familiar with chopsticks—if not totally adept at using them. But beyond the knack they have for grasping just the right bite of tofu, or the satisfying “snap” a fresh wooden pair makes when pulled apart, how much can any of us really say about these ancient Asian implements? Read on, and you’ll have plenty to tell your friends over your next plate of dumplings. (more…)

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