Follow The Plate to Our New Home

Dear fans of The Plate,

We are thrilled to announce that The Plate has a clean, new look. Expanded white space makes the text more readable, and our amazing food photos from around the world leap right off the page, and maybe, right onto your dinner plates.

We will still bring you the amazing stories of how food shapes us and our environment, how people connect through meals, explore global cultures, and dig into the impact our diets have on our health and the rest of the world. But now, our content is better integrated and more visible within National Geographic's main site.

For a little while, our archive will still live here, but if ...

Beer Company Creates Edible Six-Pack Rings to Save Marine Life

Every schoolkid knows that those tough plastic rings that hold six packs together can end up choking birds or sea turtles if they fall into the ocean, as so much of the world's trash does. Now, one craft beer company has launched a new way to tackle this problem: fully edible, compostable six-pack rings.

Developed by the Delray Beach, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery and the ad agency Webelievers, the new rings are "made with byproducts of the beer making process, that instead of killing animals, feeds them," the brewery writes on its website.

The rings are made of organic materials like spent barley and wheat, and are also biodegradable ...

“Sell By” Date Labels Confuse Customers, Increase Food Waste

 

This article is best before 5/21/16

Quick quiz:After reading the above date label, do you:

a) Check out the first few sentences to see if it’s any good

b) Read without hesitation because you don’t trust date labels

c) Click away very, very quickly

If you answered a), you’re hopefully now learning that, of course it is! If b), good for you. If you chose c), then you’re in the majority, as a recent national survey found that 84 percent of Americans throw away food based on the date stamped on packages.

That May 2016 study documents a striking amount of confusion over the meaning of the myriad date label terms. Phrases like ...

How Volunteers Turn Unwanted Produce Into Meals For 5,000 People

The mounds of eggplant that hit the chopping room floor on Tuesday didn’t look like much. They, along with the carrots, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and onions that flooded in for processing that morning, were too large, misshapen or otherwise on-their-way-out to display uniformly on a grocery store shelf.

But, in the hands of the Feeding The 5000 event crew and dozens and dozens of volunteers, the 2,000 pounds of otherwise wasted produce became its own sort of miracle: the pièce de résistance of an event aimed at transforming not only “ugly” vegetables, but also our mindsets about them. Bonus? Some of Washington, D.C.'s top chefs helped turn them ...

Does Rhubarb Deserve Its Killer Reputation?

Rhubarb is next to impossible to kill.

Here in northern Vermont, rhubarb is about the first thing that pops up in our garden in the spring—and that’s not due to us; over the years, we’ve inadvertently squashed it, stepped on it, weed-whacked it, and even mowed it down with the tractor. And still it survives. Rhubarb is tough. In my experience, it’s the botanical equivalent of The Cat Came Back.

This may have something to do with rhubarb’s chilly center of origin in east Asia—most likely, botanists guess, in inhospitable Mongolia. Marco Polo, on his famous 13th-century journey to Cathay, noted it growing “in great abundance” in the mountains ...

Scientists Say GMO Foods Are Safe, Public Skepticism Remains

Genetically-engineered crops are as safe to eat as their non-GE counterparts, they have no adverse environmental impacts, and they have reduced the use of pesticides. That’s according to a comprehensive report released by the National Academy of Sciences today—a group founded by the U.S. Congress to provide expert scientifically-based advice on a wide variety of issues.

But the academy also found that GE or (genetically-modified organisms or GMO) crops didn’t increase those crops' potential yields, and they did lead to widespread and expensive problems with herbicide-resistant weeds.

The report acknowledges that beyond safety, other issues need to be addressed, including earning the public's trust. It recommends a more transparent and inclusive conversation about GE crops ...

Beyond Bananas: Explore Delicious, Healthy Tropical Fruits

Eat your fruits and vegetables is not just something Grandma tells you to do. Eating five to nine servings a day is something doctors and nutritionists say can reduce your risk of health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Fruits in particular, contain fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients like folate and Vitamin K that are not found in other foods.

And fruits grown in tropical regions tend to be particularly high in nutrients, while growing in seemingly infinite varieties of flavor and color: Did you know one medium papaya gives you  224 percent of your daily Vitamin C needs? And a guava can supply more than 600 percent.

Scientists are studying breadfruit as ...

Got Cretons? If You’re in Acadian Country, You Better

Every couple of weeks restaurant owner Keith Pelletier and his mother, Odette, pack 16 pints of a homemade meat spread into containers and deliver it to an area senior citizens home. There, it's served by tiny ice cream scoop at breakfast.

Moving into a senior community often involves surrendering some freedoms, but the elderly residents of Fort Kent, Maine, won’t do without their cretons, a savory spread made of ground pork, onions, and spices that's typically smoothed onto toast and eaten as a breakfast food. It's one of the many aspects of life in this corner of Maine that's steeped in generations of Acadian French culture. Keith Pelletier's restaurant, ...

Raise the Roof: Urban Farms Expand Up, In, and Around

Rooftop farms have sprung up so quickly in American cities over the past decade that even the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t know precisely how many exist.

Chicago is home to many, and New York City is a hotbed, of course, where places like Brooklyn’s Eagle Street Rooftop Farm (pictured above) provide fresh produce to neighborhood markets, and educational and volunteer opportunities for people itching to flex their green thumbs.

Few could argue that these spots have any downsides. They provide a pop of green to the concrete landscapes that surround them, and they encourage healthy eating. But as nice as community-building and locally sourced kale are, does gardening inside city ...

An Eater’s Guide to Food Labels

Food packaging isn’t just the shell that protects or contains a product. It’s a powerful miniature billboard—a tool that food producers use to reel in customers.

It’s also a document, of sorts, that conveys how a food was produced and whether the government has overseen that process.

The problem for consumers? Knowing the difference.

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will begin to consider input from the public and the food industry on how best to define “natural,” one of the most misused and misunderstood terms in food—and one that has immense marketing power. (See "So What do 'Natural' and 'Healthy' Really Mean?")

But the agency’s effort is only ...

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