Food & Farm | KUNC

Food & Farm

Global demand for food and fuel is rising, and competition for resources has widespread ramifications. We all eat, so we all have a stake in how our food is produced. Our goal is to provide in-depth and unbiased reporting on things like climate change, food safety, biofuel production, animal welfare, water quality and sustainability.

A little boy in an orange shirt walks up to a grab-and-go meal site at an elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah. A school worker wearing a mask uses a bullhorn to let kitchen staff know the boy's there. Then a staffer sets a bag lunch and some extra strawberries on a table and backs away.


In Nevada, Investors Eye Underground Water Storage As A Path To Profits

Jun 2, 2020
David Calvert / The Nevada Independent

Twenty-two miles outside of the nearest town (Wells, pop. 1,246), graffiti on a crumbling hotel wall reads: "Home on the Strange." Down a dirt road, there's an abandoned car. An arch stands at the entrance of a dilapidated school. It's what is left of a town that lost most of its water rights.

Around the turn of the last century, New York investors established Metropolis, Nevada as a farming community. By 1912, they had constructed a dam. They built a hotel, a school and an events center. The Southern Pacific Railroad constructed an office and built a line to the town.

Then the water ran dry.

When I was little, my dad and I would walk behind our house in west-central Montana and stare at the ground. And then walk. Stare. Walk. Stare. We'd do this for hours, searching for that tasty, edible and highly prized morel mushroom.

The Food Delivery App Dilemma

May 18, 2020

Social distancing has now become the norm in many parts of the country, which means that businesses that rely on crowds of customers are struggling. Local restaurants are in particular need.

That’s why many loyal customers have turned to apps like GrubHub, DoorDash and Seamless to have their favorite dishes delivered right to their doors. These apps provide useful infrastructure to many businesses looking for ways to fill as many orders as possible.

Third generation hog farmer Chad Leman, making his daily rounds, points to dozens of 300-pound pigs.

"These pigs should be gone," he said.

He means gone to the meatpacking plant to be processed. But with pork processing plants shut down due to worker safety concerns, he's faced with a grisly task: He needs to kill the pigs to make room for more.

And Leman isn't the only one. With meatpacking plant closures and reduced processing capacity nationwide, America's hog farmers expect an unprecedented crisis: the need to euthanize millions of pigs.

Beef prices are on the rise while live cattle prices are falling. One reason for that is COVID-19 disrupting meat processing plants. There are more cattle and less product because some cows can’t get processed. But many suspect there's more to the story.

Matt Bloom / KUNC

A new ritual has formed in the parking lot of an empty Loveland strip mall.

Every morning around 8 a.m., Billy Daniels pulls up in his food truck, the Chaulkboard Gourmet Express. Then, people from the neighborhood across the street start to line up.

Customers wear masks and stand six feet apart while Daniels cooks protein bowls, breakfast burritos and tacos with beef or bacon. The items sell between $5 to $10 a piece. When the food’s ready, he takes payments one-on-one through a tiny window.

Crop rows
Lance Cheung / USDA

In this pandemic, we keep hearing that the food supply is fine.

That, obviously, couldn’t be true without the work of farmers. But they don’t do it alone.

“The workers that we work with, they’re essential,” said Harrison Topp, a fruit farmer on the Western Slope and director of membership for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.  “I mean, they’re declared essential because of the COVID situation but they were essential before the COVID situation.”