Food

Image of a plate of soul food, including fried chicken, mac and cheese, collards, and fried okra.
Flickr/Jennifer Woodard Maderazo

Adrian Miller calls himself a “recovering lawyer and politico turned culinary historian.” He went from working as a special assistant to former President Bill Clinton and a legislative director for former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to becoming a soul food scholar.

“Practicing law was not the thing for me,” Miller says.“I was singing spirituals in my office, so I figured I needed to do something else.”

For generations, the women in writer Alice Randall‘s family, including Alice, topped two hundred pounds.

As she wrote in a 2012 New York Times Op-ed, and now in a new cookbook, being heavy was something to aspire to.

James Beard Award is similar to the Academy Awards, but for the best chefs and bakers in America.
jamesbeard.org

  From bakeries and dives to fine dining and drive-ins, North Carolina restaurants consistently top foodies' "best-of" lists.  So it was no surprise to many in the Tar Heel culinary scene when the state's chefs and bakers were on the James Beard Foundation's semifinalist list. 

The Foundation announced the the semifinalists Wednesday at a news conference in Chicago. Nine North Carolinians made the list in two categories - Best Chef: Southeast and Outstanding Baker.

Penelope Easton ventured to the Alaskan territory as a young woman in 1948. It would have been an intimidating move for many young women in that era. But for Easton, the move was just another in a series of adventures across the globe.

New research finds that eating an avocado per day, as part of an overall diet rich in healthy fats, may help cut the bad kind cholesterol, known as LDL.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recruited 45 overweight participants who agreed to try three different types of cholesterol-lowering diets. Their study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Sandwich Monday: Doritos Loaded

Dec 8, 2014

Doritos are everywhere. They're in taco shells at Taco Bell, they're in pizza crusts in Australia and they're sneaking up behind you right now with murder in their eyes. 7-Eleven has introduced the Doritos Loaded, shorthand for "vaguely Doritos-shaped fried thing stuffed with cheese."

Robert: This is what happens to Doritos after they eat too many Doritos.

Image of Amanda Holliday with her grandmother Celeste Sawyer.
Amanda Holliday

Many kids grow up spending time after school with other kids in their neighborhood playing pick-up soccer, videogames or capture the flag. 

As a society, we don't pay much attention to nutrition information when we eat out.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report estimates just 8 percent of Americans use nutritional information when deciding what to order.

But that could change soon.

A picture of sweet potatoes.
Llez / Wikipedia

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving millions of dollars to North Carolina State University to research sweet potatoes.  The grant is aimed at developing new breeding tools to improve crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Craig Yencho heads the university's sweet potato breeding program and is the project director.  He said sweet potatoes already feed millions of people in the region.

"It's a very hardy crop," said Yencho. "It can resist drought and heat very well.  It can be grown in a really wide range of soil types and it produces a lot of food per acre.”

Despite all the cheerleading for healthy eating, Americans still eat only about 1 serving of fruit per day, on average. And our veggie consumption, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls short, too.

Carol Jackson

Willie Latimore has a really hard time getting fresh food. He lost much of his right leg to diabetes a few years ago, and he uses a wheelchair to get around. He lives at Carriage House Apartments in Raleigh, where the rent is based on income.

Eat more when you're stressed? You're not alone. More than a third of the participants in a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health said they change their diets during stressful times.

And many of us are quick to turn to either sugary foods or highly refined carbohydrates such as bagels or white pasta when the stress hits.

Chef Vivian Howard accepted a Peabody Award for the PBS series 'A Chef's Life'.
Cherry Bombe Magazine / via Twitter

North Carolina chef accepted a prestigious award last night for a TV series that chronicles her life and her cooking.   Vivian Howard is co-owner of  "Chef and the Farmer," a fine dining restaurant in Kinston, N.C.  She and the television crew that makes the series "A Chef's Life" accepted one of broadcasting's highest honors, a Peabody Award, in New York. 

Howard says the journey to being accepted by the Kinston community was a long one.

"It really took a while for them to warm up," says Howard. 

Chef Ashley Christensen won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast. The news was announced Monday.

To Christensen, a restaurant is not just a place where you sit down to eat.  It’s an entire concept.  She carefully plots an immersive experience for her diners.

plastic grocery bags
Photo by mtsofan / John / found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

The National Weather Service is calling for an ice storm, not unlike one that crippled the state in 2002. Home and business owners are on the lookout for rock salt, but they're having trouble finding it.

Eileen Beatty manages Pope True Value Hardware in Durham. She says winter inventory has gotten slim since the last snowstorm.

“We don't have anything here. All the salt is gone. Kerosene heaters are gone. Electric heaters are gone. I got two snow shovels left... Two saucers and two sleds,” Beatty said. “And that's it.”

Tony Geraci

    

Tony Geraci is best known as "Cafeteria Man." He is on a mission to transform menus at school cafeterias and give students healthier options. He launched a farm-to-school program in Contoocook N.H. Then he went on to make changes in larger school systems in Baltimore and Memphis.

Journalist Audra Ang spent seven years reporting from China.
Greg Baker

Audra Ang worked as a foreign correspondent for the AP in Beijing, China for seven years. 

John F. Blair

  

In the South, food has purposes beyond sustenance and certain items like biscuits, buttermilk, and bacon are sacred. 

Vivian Howard, Chef and the Farmer
Vivian Howard

Working in famous New York City restaurants, Vivian Howard swore she’d never move back to her home state of North Carolina.  Then, in 2005, when she decided to open her restaurant, her family offered financial help with a catch: She had to open the restaurant near her home town.

"I was against it," she remembers.

But Howard and her husband Ben Knight wound up moving to the 20,000-population city of Kinston, N.C., and opened an upscale restaurant.

In the wake of a school shooting at Carver High School in Winston-Salem, parents and students are raising concerns about school safety. The school board will discuss the matter at their meeting this evening. Also, new healthy food guidelines are causing some schools to drop out of the federal school lunch program. But Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County Schools are finding success in the new system. 

Culinary Historian and Judaics Scholar, Michael Twitty
http://www.stagville.org/events/ / Afroculinaria

This summer, celebrity chef Paula Deen’s use of the N-word stirred controversy. Food historian Michael Twitty wrote an open letter to Deen criticizing her appropriation and misinterpretation of African-American culinary tradition. Twitty will cook and speak about his work at Historic Stagville Plantation's Harvest Festival in Durham this Saturday, September 7th.  

Visitors harvest lavender at Bluebird Hill Farm in Chatham County. Agritourism.
Bluebird Hill Farm

The Triangle foodie scene is growing its digital footprint. A new website called TriangleGrown launched by the Destination Marketing Organizations for Orange, Durham, Johnston, Chatham and Wake Counties aims to promote agritourism by being a go-to resource for people interested in exploring the local farming community.

NC FAST is the new electronic food stamp system.
NC FAST

The state's new electronic food distribution system or NC FAST has been beset by a myriad of software and other problems that have caused backlogs and delays in issuing food stamps.  The new system was rolled out to all 100 counties this past February in hopes of streamlining services for those in need.  David Atkinson is director of the Carteret County Department of social services. His county was one of the first to implement NC FAST. He says while his staff is among the most skilled at using the system, it only works about three quarters of the time.

Frozen yogurt shops are being inspected by the state.
shadeofmelon via Flickr, Creative Commons

Summer is in full swing, which means it’s high season for frozen yogurt shops around the state.  But the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is urging customers to be wary: what you pay for might not be what you get. Many yogurt shops determine price based on the weight of the yogurt and toppings, but they are required to subtract the weight of the cup or package first (which is called the tare weight). According to Jerry Butler, NCDA & CS Weight and Measures program manager, not every shop is aware of that.

The Farmery at American Tobacco
Leoneda Inge

There’s a movement in the Triangle to reinvent the grocery store.  A prototype of this new urban market is open for business at American Tobacco in Durham.  It’s called The Farmery

The urban market is made out of a converted 20 foot by eight foot shipping container with living wall planters hanging outside.  The concept of The Farmery is to grow and sell at the same site.

“Almost every person that walks by asks us a question, when, where, why, how, what’s this for?” 

Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
Michele Hayslett / Flickr Creative Commons

Environmental officials are asking for public input about whether they should replant genetically modified crops (GMCs) at national wildlife refuges in North Carolina. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosts a public meeting at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Thursday.  That refuge and three others in eastern North Carolina have been using a farming program to plant genetically modified crops like corn and soybeans since the 1990's.

A shopper examines produce at Deep Roots grocery.
Deep Roots Coop

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are gathering massive amounts of nutritional information to create a better picture of what Americans are eating. 

Scientists are looking at caloric data for every packaged food on the shelves and comparing that to food sales in order to see how they work into Americans' diets.  Professor Meghan Slining says the research will show how quickly manufacturers change ingredients in each product and how that changes nutrition.

strawberries
NC Strawberry Association

Researchers at N.C. State say oils extracted from herbs and spices could act as a natural disinfectant for fruits and vegetables. 

A joint project with the University of Tennessee aims to find an alternative to chlorine used on produce grown for mass consumption. Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie is a horticultural science professor at N.C. State's research campus in Kannapolis.  She says pungent spices tend to be best at fighting harmful germs.

"They have a very distinct odor, like cinnamon, for instance," Perkins-Veazie says.

James Beard Foundation
James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation announced the recipients of the 2013 Restaurant and Chef Awards on Monday night. Raleigh’s Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner was in the running for Best Chef in the Southeast, but the final award for that category went to Joseph Lenn of The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. Christensen was North Carolina’s only James Beard Award Nominee (finalist) this year, out of 13 semi-finalists in the state. Hear her interview with WUNC's State of Things.

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