Food and Nutrition

Before Taqueria Las Gemelas was approved for coronavirus relief aid on Wednesday, the Mexican eatery, like countless other businesses across the country, was struggling to stay afloat.

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It's exactly what everyone's been waiting for.

"I'm very happy to get out," says one woman, sitting down to a view of the harbor, at the Pilot House restaurant in Sandwich, Mass., on Cape Cod.

"It's like we're free at last!" a friend laughs, joining her to celebrate a 70th birthday, albeit several months late.

They're as thrilled to be dining out again as restaurant owner Bob Jarvis is to see customers start pouring back in.

Hardly a week goes by, it seems, without a big food company making promises to deliver products from green, sustainable farms. Turning those promises into reality, though, can be complicated.

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There's some news in today's episode of NPR's How I Built This. One of New York's best-known restaurants, at least among foodies, is planning a big change.

DANIEL HUMM: So we decided that our restaurant will be a 100% plant-based.

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Digital food magazine Epicurious will no longer publish recipes featuring beef in what it says is an effort to help home cooks become more environmentally friendly.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new effort Monday to feed millions of children this summer, when free school meals traditionally reach just a small minority of the kids who rely on them the rest of the year. The move expands what's known as the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, program into the summer months, and USDA estimates it will reach more than 30 million children.

If you're someone who has turned to snacking on junk food more in the pandemic, you're not alone. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss says processed food is engineered to be "craveable," not unlike a cigarette or a hit of cocaine.

His 2013 book, Salt Sugar Fat, explored food companies' aggressive marketing of those products and their impact on our health. In his new book, Hooked, Moss updates the food giants' efforts to keep us eating what they serve — and how they're responding to complaints from consumers and health advocates.

A new pandemic shortage in the U.S. could upend the habits of some bubble tea lovers.

It's a shortage of boba — the dark, chewy pearls made of tapioca that are typically found in the tea-based beverage.

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After scrutinizing nearly every avocado in the produce section, you picked out the perfect one ... only to let it sit on your counter just a little too long.

The new book World Travel: An Irreverent Guide is credited to Anthony Bourdain. But it was not really written by the bestselling author, chef and TV personality who died in 2018.

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First, it was toilet paper, then cleaning wipes, baking yeast, even ketchup packets. The pandemic has caused plenty of product shortages in the U.S.

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From toilet paper to hand sanitizer to disinfecting wipes, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some major shortages across the United States. While supermarket aisles may have finally returned to their fully stocked state, restaurants across the country are now facing a new and uniquely American shortage — ketchup.

"They are really sweating over it. I mean, it's costing a lot," says Heather Haddon, a restaurant reporter for The Wall Street Journal. "It's, you know, a service issue. So for these restaurant owners, it's not a laughing matter."

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Growing up in East Jerusalem, Palestinian cookbook author Reem Kassis never expected to enter the food industry. For her, the kitchen represented a "life sentence" for women.

Instead, Kassis moved to the U.S. when she was 17, first studying business at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and then at the London School of Economics. It wasn't until she had a child that she began to see the kitchen as a "powerful place" where she could share important stories about food and culture with her daughter.

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For nearly four decades, Martha Lou Gadsden served her brand of Southern soul food from a converted gas station in Charleston, S.C. She died last Thursday at the age of 91.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Here's a way to make Easter a little sweeter this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ICE CREAM")

BLACKPINK: (Singing) Ice cream chilling, chilling. Ice cream chilling. Ice cream chilling, chilling. Ice cream chilling.

Cooking a whole hog over a pit takes a long time — about 12 hours, give or take – and it is strenuous work.

James Beard Award winner Rodney Scott, 49, should know. He's been barbecuing whole hogs for decades. Over the years, he's learned how to keep himself going through the marathon working hours.

"While I'm cooking I would be listening to tunes, and that kind of helped me get through the long, 12-hour cooks."

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It takes a long time and a lot of work to barbecue a whole hog over a wood fire. Rodney Scott knows because he's cooked them for years. And he remembers falling in love with the work when he started listening to music.

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It's been just over a year since Michigan's restaurants were forced to close indoor dining for the first time.

In that time many chefs pivoted from their restaurants to working with nonprofit groups on a new task: feeding their increasingly hungry communities.

Why does the world need a new pasta shape?

For Dan Pashman, host of the food podcast The Sporkful, there's just a lot of mediocre pasta out there. There's plenty of room for improvement.

"Spaghetti is just a tube," he tells Morning Edition. "After a few bites, it's the same." And its round shape means it's not great at holding on to sauce.

Meet his cascatelli — Italian for "little waterfalls."

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