KUNC     Tri States Public Radio



While only 2 or 3 percent of people in the U.S. are vegetarians, more than 40 percent of Americans age 18-29 choose to eat meatless once a week, according to market research firm Innova Insights.

The reasons eaters have for skipping meat are personal and varied: animal rights, health, taste, it could be anything — even price. The cost of beef continues to go way up, with no signs of slowing.

Scientists researching complex topics often come up empty-handed when it comes time to explain their findings. It’s hard to distill years of intricate, complex research into tiny bites a layman can understand.

As an agriculture reporter, I often meet with food scientists and agriculture experts. I spend a lot of time translating what they told me so that I can pass it along to you.

Ever looked at the labels on the back of your packaged food?

This week on Field Notes, a conversation with food scientist Dr. Kantha Shelke about the history of food additives.

Additives are constantly under fire in the health world and there is a lot of inconclusive evidence suggesting strange sounding food additives contribute to conditions like cancer, ADHD or basic headaches. But the jury is still out out.

Did you know the most common fresh produce in Kansas City and in the Midwest is iceberg lettuce? Yes, the green that is mostly water is apparently the best get in fly-over country. At least, the New York Times thinks so.

A recent Times article titled "Meatless in the Midwest: A Tale of Survival" would have you believe that the veritable bread basket and vegetable garden of the Midwest, the state of Missouri, is a fresh produce wasteland.

There's more to grocery shopping these days because of nutritional ratings, on-label claims and even in-store dieticians. 

On this episode of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, grocery shopping with a guy who doesn’t really think about nutrition, and along the way we dissect the nutritional rating system NuVal

There have been plenty of distractions over the last year on and off the farm. The farm bill that never was stirred speculation late into November; drought reaked havoc on much of the southwest; and the price of an acre of farmland has shot up 32 percent in Iowa over the last year.

On this week's Field Notes, a look back at some of the big stories in agriculture in 2011.

Perhaps the old adage, “you are what you eat,” should be reworked to say something like “you are what your food eats.”

According to a study from the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, Americans consume a lot of meat, and the quality of the meat products is directly linked to animal feeding management. So, if you’re an average eater who chows down on over six ounces of meat daily, consider checking out the nutrition content on the animal feed label.

The package of agriculture and food policy that's called the farm bill is reauthorized by Congress every five years. This year, however, things are a bit different for this historically lengthy and debate-rich process.

A free-range chicken isn’t a free-agent. It may only spend a portion of its day in the great outdoors. The rest of the time? Anywhere but a cage. Though, that information is not something you'll find spelled out for you on a package of chicken breast.

From time to time we like to share some of our favorite episodes of Field Notes. This episode, which originally aired in October 2011, explores Missouri's burgeoning wine industry.