Spring Is Sprouting—Get the Table Ready!

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it's getting easier to believe that spring is within reach.

To be fair, many of us have little excuse for winter fatigue, given how late the cold rolled in during the warmest year on record. All the same, even brief bouts of frigid temperatures (and the accompanying frenzy at the supermarket) can get old real fast.

After trudging through icy streets, just the hint of crocuses peeking out of the earth is enough to put a spring in your step, even if you can still see your breath suspended in the morning air. And for consumers who make a point of eating locally ...

The Smell of the Slaughterhouse

For the first half of my life, I was squeamish about blood and guts. It was a source of embarrassment to me, growing up playing ice hockey, when the smallest sight of blood would topple me to the ice. But all changed when, at age 21, I butchered my first animal. The smell of it, while foreign at the time, was pleasant to me when I experienced it again, walking through Russia's largest slaughterhouse, Miratorg, recently.

In 2001, I was working on an estancia (livestock ranch) in Argentina. The 100,000-acre property sat high in the Andes Mountains, a three-hour horseback ride from the nearest road. The remoteness required the residents ...

Inside a Russian Slaughterhouse, It’s a Far Cry From ‘The Jungle’

I didn’t know what to expect, walking into a Russian slaughterhouse. The fact that Miratorg, a large corporation, had agreed to give me access was surprising. “We have nothing to hide,” said Miratorg’s PR manager.

I wanted to take pictures, so could I bring a camera?

“Of course.”

Miratorg is proud of its gigantic, gleaming plant, which rises up from rolling cropland in the countryside of Bryansk, a province 250 miles southwest of Moscow. If it was in America, it would rank among the top 15, capacity-wise.

But getting access to these facilities in the U.S. can be difficult. And ag-gag laws have created a hostile environment for anyone who might ...

Farmers Work a Second Shift to Supplement Income

The “average” American farmer earns an income above most Americans—but that's often because they're hustling in a second-job off the farm, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week.

Dairy farmers brought in the most money in 2014, earning an average total of $263,757. Next in line were specialty crop farmers—the category responsible for fruits and vegetables—with $223,414. The lowest income farmers? “Other field crops,” a miscellaneous category including smaller-scale crops like hay, silage, barley and millet. Farms producing crops in that odd lot earned an average of $91,469 a year.

On average, though, most farmers supplement their farm earnings with significant off-farm income—policy speak for ...

Rescuing Rejected Food to Feed the Hungry at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Yolanda Soto is a hero.

At least according to photographer Bryan Schutmaat who photographed her and her work at Borderlands Food Bank for National Geographic. "She wakes up every morning and goes to her office to try and put foods into the hands of people who need it," Schutmaat explains.

That's noble. What's even more noble is that the food Soto shares with hungry people is food that would otherwise rot.

Located in the border community of Nogales, Arizona, Soto is situated in a pivotal spot on the produce route between Mexico and the U.S.—where food could either end up in landfill or on her client's tables. Why ...

The Thirst-Quenching History of the Margarita

We just missed National Margarita Day, which was Monday, but that doesn't mean we can't raise a glass while we dive into the drink's romantic story.

The official National Margarita Day website is cagey about just where the holiday came from. Most likely it originated as a creative marketing ploy on the part of the tequila industry. Its origins are murky, but then so are those of the margarita itself.

Nobody knows who invented the margarita. It’s a mystery cocktail. But it's very likely that it involves a beautiful woman.

One story goes that the drink was first concocted by Mexican restaurant owner Carlos (Danny) Herrera in 1938 for gorgeous Ziegfeld showgirl Marjorie King. King ...

Seeking Sustainable Seafood? Find a Good Fishmonger

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, it was easy to take fresh seafood for granted. The bounty seemed endless: salmon, flounder, rockfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters ... And not only did we regularly eat fresh-caught Dungeness crab; my dad caught it himself, walking through sea grass at the crack of dawn decked out in rubber waders.

Most of the rest of the delicious fresh seafood we enjoyed—salmon, clams, prawns—we acquired with the help of a middleman: the fishmonger. It seemed that whatever you wanted for dinner, the fish market folks could pull  it off ice, fillet it, weigh it, and wrap it in butcher paper in ...

Rockefeller Foundation Puts Money, Muscle Behind Global Food Waste Efforts

Perhaps you weren’t at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month. Maybe the invitation got lost in the mail or your jet was in the shop. If that’s the case, you missed some significant news: The Rockefeller Foundation pledged $130 million over seven years to fight global food loss and waste through a program called YieldWise.

Yes, those Rockefellers. Or at least the foundation they’ve endowed that is now a force in philanthropy and hunger relief. The fact that the Rockefeller Foundation is doing this matters. “In terms of credibility and authority in the social services realm, the Rockefeller name is still gold,” says Steve Taravella, ...

Like Sushi? Thank a Female Phycologist for Saving Seaweed

If you’re a sushi lover, you owe a debt of gratitude to Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker.

Drew-Baker was a British phycologist, a practitioner of a branch of science so arcane that Google, questioned about it, insists that surely you meant “psychologist.” If you persist, however, you eventually discover that phycology is the study of algae, a diverse class of primitive plants, the largest of which are known as seaweeds.

Sushi depends on seaweed. Spicy tuna, abalone, eel, cucumber, yellowtail, and (in California rolls) avocado all come to the table encased in vinegary rice and wrapped in sheets of seaweed which—though distinctly green after processing—come from a species of red ...

Of Black Pineapple and Graveyards: Pop-Up Dining is Hot

I walk hesitantly through an unmarked door, blinking into the dimness of a strange room and stomping snow off my boots. The heady scent of exotic spices wafts out from a kitchen filled with the muffled thump of trays being loaded just out of view. Someone checks my name and hands me a drink and I stumble for a prime seat near a good-looking stranger at a long, communal table.

That’s how supper club starts. Or, at least, how a recent underground Dinner Lab event I attended in Washington, D.C. called “The Black Pineapple, a Tribute to Antigua,” recently started.

The black pineapple is a fruit unique to the island and its official symbol. It looks like a ...

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