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 ...

The Crummy History of Matzoh

Matzoh, known by Jews worldwide as “the bread of affliction,” is a cracker-like flour and water substance that is eaten to commemorate the Hebrew slaves' exodus from Egypt. The bland crisp is eaten in place of bread for the eight days of Passover

While the aforementioned affliction may have changed over the years from one of desert-trekking deprivation to gastrointestinal hardship, most Hebrew scholars agree on one thing: It is not supposed to taste good.

And yet, for at least the first day of the holiday, which begins Friday night at sundown, many people actually crave it. Why?

For answers to this burning question about the nature of matzoh, we turn ...

Why Mushrooms Rule the Fungi Kingdom

You might assume those big white puffballs that pop up on the lawn after a good rainstorm are plants. But fungi are actually a diverse group of organisms and microorganisms that are neither plants nor animals.

Some members of the fungi kingdom are destructive, like the one that killed America’s chestnut trees, but some of them—at least many of the fruiting bodies that unfurl beneath trees in to spread their spores in damp forests—are delicious. It helps to know the difference.

People both love and fear mushrooms, but we may be more afraid of picking them ourselves than is warranted. There are about 10,000 species of mushrooms, says Ritas Vilgalys, ...

Savor the Fleeting Season of Skrei, King of Cod

If taking on the January storms on the Barents Sea just south of the Arctic Circle to catch some cod sounds good to you, you might be a Norwegian fisherman.

If eating said cod—called skrei (from the old Norse skrida, which means “to travel”)—sounds better, you’re from anywhere else.

Skrei is the name given to the best 10 percent of the 400,000 or so Norwegian cod that migrate south to that country’s coast every  winter to spawn. Skrei are bigger, stronger, and firmer than standard coastal cod, and full of omega 3s and vitamin D—critical nutrients for people living in a land where the sun doesn’t come up for three months a year. But ...

Scientists Say Go Wild to Preserve Crops for the Future

With apologies to Matt Damon’s character in The Martian, when it comes to feeding a hungry, hotter planet, the Idaho potato alone isn’t going to cut it.

Unfortunately, many of the staple foods that humanity relies on are at risk from climate change. So plant scientists are increasingly looking to genes from wild relatives of domesticated crops for traits than can help our familiar potatoes, bananas, and rice adapt.

The problem is, we’re missing about 70 percent of the genetic material we need, according to a study released this week by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

“If we want to have at our disposal all the possible options for improving these ...

Farming’s Next Wave: The Rise of Programmable Produce

What if you could grow the perfect apple; full of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and free of pesticides, anywhere in the world? National Geographic Emerging Explorer Caleb Harper says you can.

Harper has been preaching the gospel of open-source, programmable produce from his perch as principal investigator and director of the Open Ag Initiative at MIT's Media Lab for over a year now. He draws crowds to his greenhouse to pick lettuce and herbs, which glow purple under special growing lights in a perfectly-calibrated environment. He even once staged a Top-Chef-type event at the lab, where guests picked greens and a chef whipped them into a veggie stew before their eyes—a kind of ...

The Benefits of a Lunch Break

In many countries, lunch is the main meal of the day. It’s a chance to take a break from the heat (or cold), recharge our metabolism, and socialize before going back to our routines.

But research shows that many Americans don’t take a regular lunch break. And we know packing it for someone else can be quite stressful (see Is There a Dark Side to Those Adorable Bento Boxes?)

The strains of modern life have led many of us—including food writers —to eat hunched over our keyboards alone, looking at Facebook and picking at a Sad Desk Salad. And that may be the saddest thing of all for our mental ...

To Find Food in the Wild, You Must Know How to Look

National Geographic Explorer and author Sarah Marquis has evaded harassing horsemen in Mongolia’s steppes. She spent three days in the Laos jungle with one leg tied to a tree to keep her from falling into water while suffering a fever. But perhaps her biggest challenge on her journeys is finding enough food every day.

That’s because Marquis is an extreme global trekker. For more than 20 years, the Swiss woman has dedicated her life to walking alone for months at a time and lives almost exclusively off the land while she’s doing it. Plus, she’s a vegetarian, which makes places like meat-centric Mongolia particularly difficult to navigate. ...

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 ...

Noodles: The Ultimate Global Comfort Food

Who really invented noodles? Italians, Arabs, and the Chinese all claim to be the first to divide dough into bits and boil the pieces in water. Noodles of many shapes and lengths have been a part of global cuisines for at least 2,000 years, when but scientists found a 4,000-year-old noodle in China a few years back, it pretty much gave China the win.

Still noodles take many forms and are made from a wide variety of grains like millet, wheat, and rice. They are thrown into soups, fried in woks, or coated with olive oil, tomato sauce, or cheese. They are tossed with beans or vegetables or leftover meats to make a quick meal. Noodles are a ...

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