How a Solar Stove Became a Comic Book Hero

For someone living in a developed country, a solar cooker may feel like kind of a novelty item. Something you can pull out on camping trips to build up your green street cred and save a little bit of energy. But if you're living in a refugee camp, cooking with the sun can actually change your life.

(Read more about how solar cooking works on The Plate.)

That was the case for Lunda Lalondi Vincente, a Congolese man who fled unspeakable violence in his home country in 1998 at the age of 18. He was tortured by rebels in a conflict sometimes called Africa's First World ...

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 ...

Cuban Hospitality Means Open Homes, Shared Kitchens

Before there was Airbnb, there were Cuban Casa Particulars.

When Cuba began to lose economic support from the Soviet Union after the collapse of the communist bloc in 1989, some Cubans sought alternative sources of income by opening up their homes to tourists. These “private homes,” as they translate to in English, are typically short-term room rentals in single-family homes.

Nowadays, these Casas still offer visitors an authentic taste of Cuba, including a fresh breakfast made in an immaculate 1950’s-era home kitchen and a chance to feel like part of the family, but as relations between the U.S. and Cuba warm, these arrangements may change.

Inspired by old family photographs of ...

The Most Beautiful Photos of Ugly Food—So Far

A lot of food is unnecessarily wasted because it doesn't meet aesthetic standards. Maybe the carrots are gnarly, a banana is too short, or a potato has some spots (we like to think of them as design elements). These imperfections don't render food inedible, but they often keep it off grocery store shelves. (See Here's How to Solve World Hunger.)

So Your Shot and The Plate teamed up and asked you to cast underdog produce in a new light. We launched the #UglyFoodIsBeautiful hashtag challenge last week on Your Shot, National Geographic's photo community.

The challenge runs until March 7th, but I was so excited about these photos that ...

Deer Hunters Help Feed Those in Need

It's dark, before sunrise, and I'm sitting about ten feet up a leafless tree in a forest full of other bare trees in Urbana, Maryland. Despite the fact that it's before 6 a.m., my mind feels alert and free. For someone who has never been hunting—and never wanted to go hunting—this stillness helps me understand the draw.

Mike Stauffer is at home in the woods. He got his first hunting license in 1975. He's sitting in the same tree as me, 45 degrees to my right and about three feet up. It's the first day of rifle season, and almost as soon as we settled into the tree stands, several deer run ...

For Cancer Patients, Eating Right Is Part of the Therapy

Having cancer changes everything, including how people eat.

I'm sitting in the cafe at the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, eating a raisin that Kenny Wagoner, executive chef, offers me. It tastes good, like a regular raisin. He then asks me to chew on some gymnema sylvestre, a dried herb, for about 20 seconds. I do. After I spit it out, he asks me to taste another raisin. I pop it in my mouth, and what was once a sweet morsel is suddenly sour, the original flavor warped and tinny.

It turns out this is an exercise in empathy. “We have an herb that stimulates the taste that cancer ...

Our Historic Relationship With Alcohol: It’s Complicated

The European settlers' drinking habits in the early days of the American Republic were pretty extensive. They topped out at around 4.15 beers a day or 7.1 gallons of pure alcohol per person per year in the 1830s. That's pretty staggering when you realize that modern U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggests no more than one drink per day for women and two for men. So were we just a bunch of alcoholics?

Well, it's much more complicated than that, says Washington, D.C.'s National Archives curator Bruce Bustard, who oversees Spirited Republic, an exhibit chronicling Americans and our love-hate relationship with alcohol from the first colonists up to the 21st century. “It sounds like people were staggering ...

‘Ingredients’ Book Casts an Artist’s Eye on Food Additives

As 21st century consumers, many of us have resigned ourselves to the fact that there are chemicals in our food which will forever remain unpronounceable mysteries. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, for example, might as well be the name of an Icelandic volcano.

But we don’t have to stay in the dark about them. These chemicals are the subject of Ingredients: A visual Exploration of 75 Additives and 25 Food Products, the new book by photographer Dwight Eschliman and writer Steve Ettlinger. The two men, who bonded over former independent projects that both focused on dissecting the ingredients in a Twinkie (see Eschliman's and Ettlinger’s) decided to team ...

“Making Groceries” in a New Orleans Food Desert

What if you had to take three city buses on a half-day round trip to buy groceries? Burnell Cotlon’s neighborhood, New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward, was in just that situation.

Cotlon was born and raised in the L9, as it’s called, and except for a stint with the U.S. Army in Germany, he lived there his whole life. After Hurricane Katrina, he realized his neighborhood was a food desert—there were no grocery stores, and chains didn’t think they could make enough profits to move in. So he decided he was going to build an oasis.

Describing himself as “an average guy with above average dreams,” Cotlon put his life savings ...

What a ‘Tree of 40 Fruit’ Tells Us About Agricultural Evolution

Compass, Mirabelle, Long John, and Early Golden—they’re not a fleet of ships headed for the high seas. These are actually a few of the plum varieties artist Sam Van Aken worked with while creating his “Tree of 40 Fruit,” which as its name suggests, bears 40 varieties of stone fruit, including plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries.

At its core, this tree is art. Van Aken was inspired by the idea of a hoax, which he says “transforms reality.” He hopes, as he explains in the video, that people would stumble upon the tree and wonder. “Why are the leaves shaped differently? Why are they different colors?” In ...

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