Local Food

Why We're Growing The Most Sweet Potatoes Since WWII

Jan 25, 2017
USDA / Flickr

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

A guy who covers agriculture in the West who’s never put a skinned, sliced, battered, deep-fried bull testicle into a cup of cocktail sauce and then into his mouth?

I couldn’t let it stand.

They’re known by many names: lamb fries, bull fries, Montana tenders, huevos de toro, cowboy caviar. In my corner of Colorado, they’re Rocky Mountain oysters and I somehow coaxed myself into thinking I needed to try them to be more a part of the place I live, to be a true blue Coloradan.

A Taste Of The Minimum Wage Debate In Colorado

Sep 28, 2016
Jackie Fortier / KUNC

The Johnstown Lunch Box is clean and bright. A chalkboard sign advertises a Chicago-style hot dog for $5.99. The restaurant is packed with oil and gas workers, high school students and parents with kids.

Chris and Michelle Edwards started the business seven years ago.

“I was in lending and banking before and we just wanted to do something different when the whole financial crisis hit,” Edwards said.  “We live in town, so we were just thinking what was missing in here where we want to eat at.”  

Can The "Airbnb Of Kitchens" Give Local Food A Boost?

Aug 16, 2016
Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

The hardest part of starting a new food business should be in perfecting the secret recipe. For many entrepreneurial cooks though, the tough times come when searching for a space to legally make and sell their food.

Commercial kitchen space, with stainless steel counters, industrial appliances meeting food safety regulations and appropriately-sized sinks, can be hard to come by and expensive to build. One tech startup is trying to fix that, using the same sharing economy concepts as travel titans Uber and Airbnb.

While several states now have laws -- often referred to as “cottage food” legislation --  that allow aspiring cooks to experiment in their home kitchens and sell their concoctions, many early stage food entrepreneurs say at a certain point they must graduate to a bigger space. To stay within the bounds of food safety rules, that move often puts them in the market for an inspected commercial kitchen.

So What Exactly Is The Benefit Of Urban Agriculture?

Jul 28, 2016
Suzanne Hogan / Harvest Public Media

Urban farms and gardens are popping up in cities all over the country, often touted as the key to a sustainable lifestyle, as creating healthy vibrant communities and promoting economic development. A new study by the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, however, says urban agriculture advocates need to be careful about overselling the benefits.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The middle of winter is when the stream of locally grown fruits and vegetables in the Midwest begins to freeze up.

Nicole Saville knows first-hand. Saville is the produce manager at Open Harvest, a grocery coop in Lincoln, Neb. The store promotes food grown by local farmers, but this time of year there just isn’t much available.

“We can get kale and some culinary herbs this time of year,” Saville said. “Otherwise the only other local option is a soil mix in our garden center.”

That means the bunches of carrots, bags of onions, and piles of pears on shelves from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Ames, Iowa, to Columbia, Missouri, made a long trip to get there.

Employers have long known that one way to employees' hearts is through their stomachs.

Nowadays consumers are more willing to pay extra for a rack of ribs if it's produced nearby. A local bone-in ribeye, on average, costs about $1 more than a conventional steak. A pound of local sliced bacon has a $2 upcharge, according to retail reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What are we paying for when we pay more for local meat? Lots of things. But small producers say one key issue that's holding them back, and driving up costs, is the strict rules when it comes to how they slaughter their animals.

Colorado Is A Top 10 State In Organic Ag Sales Says USDA

Sep 17, 2015
Christopher Paquette / Creative Commons

Have you noticed your grocery store’s organic section starting to spill over? It’s not your imagination. The entire organic sector is blowing up.

The country’s certified organic farms sold $5.5 billion in organic products in 2014. That’s a 72 percent increase since 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 survey of organic agriculture shows. The goods that brought in the most cash were organic milk, eggs, chicken, lettuce and apples.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the “know where your food comes from” movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.