Food & Drink

We delve into the local food scene, from the farms that grow your food to how it ends up on your plate.

Closing Bars To Stop Coronavirus Spread Is Backed By Science

Jul 2, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Authorities are closing honky tonks, bars and other drinking establishments in some parts of the U.S. to stem the surge of COVID-19 infections — a move backed by sound science about risk factors that go beyond wearing or not wearing masks.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

For the first time in more than 160 years, the Big Butler Fair has been canceled. Like county fairs across the country, fairs in Western Pennsylvania have been called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But a handful of food vendors are still serving sausage sandwiches, fresh lemonade, funnel cakes and fried Oreos this summer.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's ability to provide food assistance benefits without in-person interviews is set to expire July 31, and Gov. Tom Wolf is asking the federal government to extend waivers related to the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rattan Lal just won a quarter of a million dollars for his scientific research on dirt. Or as he prefers to call it, "soil."

And in fact, soil and money have something in common, says Lal, the newly named 2020 World Food Prize Laureate. Think of the ground as similar a bank account. If you want to improve your bank account balance, you have to deposit more money than you withdraw. The same goes for soil. You have to make deposits to keep it healthy.

Our national fascination with sourdough starter appears to have stopped. Or at least slowed down a bit.

The price of baking flour fell last month along with the price of eggs, suggesting that the baking craze that gripped hungry and housebound consumers in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic has cooled.

Elena Shahen / Bloomfield Saturday Market

Farmers markets are beginning to return to the Pittsburgh region and like most entities, COVID-19 has changed the way they operate. Some markets have pushed back opening dates to make time to figure out what needs to change in order to maintain social distancing and keep vendors safe. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board must allow distributors to send special wine and liquor orders directly to retailers instead of sending them to state stores for pickup, a court ruled Friday.

The PLCB can’t ignore a 2016 state law that permits the direct shipping of wines and spirits not sold in state-run stores, the Commonwealth Court ruling said. Retailers and restaurants have instead had to retrieve their orders, and pay a handling fee, at state stores that have been closed or operating on a limited basis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Wolf And AG Secretary Talk Food Supply, Meat Processing Plants

Apr 30, 2020
The Allegheny Front

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is sending a message about the food supply: there’s plenty of food and the state is adjusting to get it to people. Wolf along with the state’s agriculture secretary outlined how the state is addressing food security measures in a news conference Wednesday.

Small Farms And Markets Rethink How To Get Local Food To Customers

Apr 22, 2020
Jamie Martines / Courtesy of Bloomfield Development Corp.

Recent weeks have brought increased attention, and concern, for the food supply chain. Big farms have dumped milk and plowed crops like beans without harvesting them because schools and other institutions aren’t open to buy their products during the shutdown.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania is starting curbside pickup at liquor stores around the state a month after Gov. Tom Wolf ordered them closed as part of a broader shutdown of businesses deemed nonessential.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced on its website Saturday that stores will begin taking orders by phone on Monday, with each customer limited to no more than six bottles. Curbside pickup will be available at more than 175 of the state's 600 stores.

Volunteers Keep Meals On Wheels Rolling During Pandemic

Apr 13, 2020
Rachel McDevitt / WITF

Meals on Wheels volunteers are essential to the people they serve, even outside of a pandemic.

The Dairy Section Is Often Empty. So Why Are Farmers Dumping Milk?

Apr 8, 2020
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Alisha Risser, the owner of a small dairy farm in Lebanon County has been milking cows for decades. But last week, for the first time ever, she had to dump more than 10,000 pounds of perfectly fine milk down a drain.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 


On today's program: Local farmers might be benefitting from the demand for home-delivered fresh produce; the state liquor control board is struggling to keep up with online liquor sales; and before railroads carried goods through Pittsburgh, canals did the job. 

Courtesy Soul Fire Farm

Jameson Altott has been trying to live a self-sustaining lifestyle for years, to give as much back to nature as he takes. Part of that has meant growing as much of his own food as possible.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Area grocery stores have increased health and safety measures for employees to help slow the spread of COVID-19. From markers on the floor that signify appropriate social distancing to store hours designated for vulnerable populations, here’s how local stores are adjusting their operations:

Courtesy 412 Food Rescue

 

On today's program: How a local food waste prevention group is adapting to social distancing; scammers are capitalizing on the coronavirus outbreak; and advice from child psychologists about explaining COVID-19 to children.  

As more businesses shut down and stores limit their hours in the wake of the spread of COVID-19, we've compiled a list of stores that will remain open and their hours. We will update this list if anything changes. Think something might be wrong? Email us

Giant Eagle/Market District

7 a.m. - 10 p.m. 

*Customers who are age 60 and older can visit the stores at 6 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays.

Curbside pickup and delivery available.

PA Distillery Using High-Proof Alcohol To Make Hand Sanitizer

Mar 17, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

A Pennsylvania distillery owner who grew increasingly angry as he saw the skyrocketing price of hand sanitizer has decided to do something about it: He’s temporarily converting his operation into a production line for the suddenly hard-to-find, gooey, alcohol-based disinfectant.

Two pending rule changes meant to reduce what the Trump administration calls abuse of federal benefit programs could also mean hundreds of thousands of children lose access to free school meals.

Virginia Alvino-Young / 90.5 WESA

When one of Ted Jaenicke’s doctoral candidates approached him about quantifying household food waste, his first thought was that it could be nearly impossible.

Rachel McDevitt / WITF

Hundreds of high school students, all wearing blue corduroy jackets, packed the main arena at this year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Rachel McDevitt / WITF

The 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show kicks off this weekend.

For people who live in food deserts, getting groceries can be a real challenge.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie-based meat processor Kip’s Processing was among the 15 projects recently funded to improve the supply of locally produced meat statewide. The family-owned business received $50,000 as part of a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Very Small Meat Processor grant program.

Imagine Venice, the city of canals, at Christmastime — twinkling with lights and dressed in garlands.

Now translate that into gingerbread and gumdrops.

That's exactly what hundreds of architects, designers and engineers came together to do — build the Italian city made up of more than 100 small islands out of Snickers, Mars bars, Jellybeans, cereal, gummy bears and more. And, of course, sheets and sheets of gingerbread.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Ahead of the start of rifle deer season this Saturday, some hunters are concerned about deer infected with chronic wasting disease.

In City Farms

A sprawling indoor farm complex will open on the bank of the Monongahela River in Duquesne, Pa. next year. The campus will be on the site of a former steel mill, and is expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the area.

Evan Vucci / AP

The state is trying to make sure Pennsylvanians don’t start any house fires this Thanksgiving.

Pennsylvania Farmers Must Adapt To Survive, Advocates Say

Nov 20, 2019
Rachel McDevitt / WITF

A major advocacy group for Pennsylvania farmers says many have had to change the way they do business to stay afloat financially.

After California wine industry mogul Hugh Reimers illegally destroyed at least 140 acres of forest, meadow and stream in part to make way for new vineyards sometime last winter, according to a report from state investigators, state officials ordered the Krasilsa Pacific Farms manager to repair and mitigate the

Pages