Food And Drink

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It may not be football season, but chicken wings are still a popular appetizer at many restaurants and bars.

The Central Standard Food critics stopped by KCUR to give us their Kansas City favorites from traditional Buffalo wings to exotic preparations.

Here are their recommendations:

Kansas City Public Library

Kansas City used to be the place, "where the steak is born." Now it's known more for barbecue than steaks and stockyards.

On the first half of Wednesday's Up to Date, host Steve Kraske sits down with local food critic Charles Ferruzza to dive into Kansas City's carnivorous past. 


  • Charles Ferruzza​, food critic.
Context Travel / Flickr-CC

How much would you pay for a charity wine tasting? $50? What about $50,000? Depending on the event, it can be a pricey prospect.

© George Steinmetz / National Geographic

With the world’s population exploding, we’ll have many more mouths to feed in the near future. But agriculture already uses up tons of resources and land. So how can we grow more food and how can we limit its damage to the environment?

Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, wrote “A Five Step Plan to Feed the World,” in the May issue of National Geographic as an answer to those kinds of questions.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to green light a proposal that would allow imports of fresh beef from certain sections of Brazil, despite the South American country’s history of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, a highly contagious pathogen that cripples cattle.

Robyn Lee, Creative Commons / Flickr

Merriam-Webster defines pastry as "sweet baked goods made of dough having a high fat content." The definition leaves out a few key words and phrases, like "delicious" and "tasting great with tea or coffee."

The Central Standard food critics swung by our studios to guide listeners on a quest for the most delectable pastries in Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Terry Glenn’s neighborhood was hit hard by the recession, and it wasn’t booming before the rough times.

He saw houses crumble, get boarded up and left to rot. He saw neighbors moving away. And he worried that Ivanhoe, on Kansas City’s east side, was dying.

“We said, ‘We’ve got to look inside of this and see exactly what the problem is,’” Glenn said. “And once we did, we found out that the families were moving to try to find better schools, find healthier food, find different places that their family can go and have a good community.”

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The smell of baking dinner rolls fills the kitchen at Decorah High School in northeast Iowa. As two kitchen workers mix a fresh broccoli salad, another, Chad Elliott, ladles tomato soup from a large metal pot on the stove into white plastic buckets for delivery to the town’s elementary schools.

Elliott says most of the food served in the district is made from scratch and many ingredients come from local farms and dairies.

The U.S. National Archives / Flickr / Creative Commons

On today's Central Standard, culinary historian Andrea Broomfield joins us to discuss the importance of food during the first World War.

Broomfield explains what the food industry was like during that time at War Fare: Chow Challenge on April 30. Chefs from area restaurants will compete in an Iron Chef-style event using food available during World War I. 


Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

Farm stands and farmers markets remain really important for many local farmers, but U.S. consumers barely buy any food directly from farms. That’s why local farmers are trying to crack in to the big institutional markets such as grocery stores, work cafeterias, schools and hospitals.

Food Critics: Kansas City's Best Lunch Spots

Apr 18, 2014
Stacy Spensley / Flickr -- Creative Commons

It's not uncommon for Americans to work through lunch, thoughtlessly scarfing down sustenance at a desk or —worse — in a car.

But at its best, lunch can be a time to unwind and savor the moment, getting out in the city while nourishing body and soul.

Some Kansas Citians are keeping the mid-day meal alive in all its glory. Hosted by Charles Ferruzza, KCUR's food critics led a search for exquisite lunch experiences in Kansas City on Friday. 

Here are some of their recommendations:

Photo by Kartaka Shiva, courtesy Cultivate KC

Dr. Vandana Shiva sees issues of diversity playing out in our societies as well as in our grocery stores and on our dinner plates. Central Standard visits with this prolific author and global environmental activist about her unique blend of science and philosophy in which feminism, economic theory, quantum physics and agricultural history combine to create a compelling world view.

Dr. Shiva stops by the studio to explain her perspective and to tell her personal story. 

Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Farmers are making inroads supplying local food to hungry city foodies, but many producers are trying to grow more food in urban centers. City real estate is at a premium, so some producers are finding more space by using what’s called “vertical farming,” and going up rather than spreading out.

Growers across the country are heading indoors, using greenhouses and hydroponics – growing plants in a water and nutrient solution instead of soil and using lamps to replace sunlight. Vertical farming takes that to a new level.


  It's Lent, and whether you observe the Catholic fast or not, it's a great excuse to eat fish.

Kansas City restaurants offer plentiful selections of the under-water variety. On today's Central Standard the food critics recommend their favorite fish entrees in town.

Will Monsieur and Madame be having osteichthyes? Yes, please. Leave the frozen fish sticks at home.

Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Lacking the infrastructure of traditional suppliers, many local farms that want to connect to restaurants, schools and other big buyers are using the Internet to reach customers.

Groups of farms are banding together to form regional food hubs, leveraging online ordering, tracking and marketing tools to cut down on costs and to try to keep local food systems viable for growers and affordable for consumers.

Chung Chu / Flickr -- Creative Commons

There is one ingredient that you'll find in almost every culture and has been around for almost 4,000 years: noodles.

On Friday's edition of Central Standard, food critics Charles Ferruzza, Gloria Gail, Chris Becicka and Emily Farris dished on the best spots in and around Kansas City for noodles of all shapes and sizes. 

The Critics' Picks: Noodles

Padlock The Milk! FDA’s Push To Safeguard The Food Supply

Mar 11, 2014
Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Many of the food terrorism scenarios outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve liquid.

And there’s good reason for that.

Liquids like orange juice and milk go through many processing steps -- farm, bottling plant, delivery – before reaching the consumers who drink them. And these liquids are moved, manufactured and stored in huge batches that get distributed and consumed quickly. Should a toxin be injected somewhere along the supply chain, experts believe it could have devastating human health and economic consequences.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr -- Creative Commons

When it’s time to crack open a cold one, Kansas Citians say they reach for craft beer — most of the time.

That’s according to the feedback we received this week when we asked our listeners about their brew preferences.

Our curiosity piqued when we learned craft beer makers were coming to the Kansas City area this weekend for the Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition in Lawrence.

TheWorldInMyEyes / Flickr -- Creative Commons

The science behind what makes spicy and hot foods hot we understand fairly well: the capsaicin in the seeds of the peppers tricks your brain into believing that your flesh is on fire. Why people have sought the sensation of burning may be harder to pin down, but undeniably the practice is present across the world. Hot peppers and spices can be found in almost every type of food in varying degrees.

Herkie / Flickr--CC

One might assume that with such well known craft beers available from brewers like Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Mo., and Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence, Kan., there would be little room for other competition. But, craft brewing is on the rise in Kansas City, with many new microbreweries opening in the past year.

On Thursday's Central Standard host Brian Ellison looks at what is behind the Kansas City craft brewing trend and what the future looks like for these entrepreneurial ventures.


Pabo76 / Flickr-CC

Kielbasa, carnitas and pulled pork — are you getting hungry? Some local restaurants are proving that Kansas City isn’t just a barbecue town. 

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we take a look at highlights and hidden gems featured in the Kansas City Star’s Food Issue.


  • Jill Silva, food editor at The Kansas City Star
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Mushrooms can’t run, but if you go hunting for them, it certainly seems like they’re hiding. 

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we speak with a few mushroom hunters about their craft and how they find the best fungus among us. 



Craft beer makers from all over the region are poised to descend upon Lawrence for the Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition this weekend.  

And we’re wondering how Kansas Citians identify with the specialty ales.

We want to know what your beer choice says about you.

Tell KCUR: Are you a Joe six-pack or craft beer kind of person? Why?

This country's meat industry no longer includes the picturesque red barn and white picket fences. Instead, the meat we buy at the supermarket is likely processed by one of the four large meat packing companies that controls the majority of the industry.

On today's Central Standard, journalist and author Christopher Leonard discusses his book "The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business." Also, Mark Dopp of the American Meat Institute weighs in on what he perceives as the benefits of having a more centralized system.

DanPeters / Flickr -- Creative Commons

On Friday's edition of Central Standard, Charles Ferruzza and Food Critics Mary Bloch, Chris Becicka and Emily Farris discuss some of Kansas City's newest restaurants. And then the food critics locate the best places for sausage in and around Kansas City, with the help of listeners. From kielbasa to bratwurst to chorizo, Kansas City has it covered.

The Critics' Picks: Sausage

Beth Lipoff/KCUR

From “weird-beers” to your typical TV dinner, all the processed food we eat has been carefully crafted to taste and smell as appealing as possible.

In the first part of Friday's Up to Date, we visit a local lab to see how flavors are modified and enhanced to make that morning muffin you enjoy taste so much like fresh blueberries-- even though there aren't any in it. 


Stewart Butterfield / Flickr-CC

The Test Kitchen isn't a glamorous place filled with Food Network cameras-- it's Kansas City's own secret supper club.

The location is a secret until the day before, and you're in for new cooking techniques and some interesting ingredients. Picky eaters might want to skip this one, but if you've got adventurous taste buds the Test Kitchen might be the place for you.

In the second part of Friday's Up to Date, we talk with its founder and the chef who will be behind the club's next meal.


Kimberly Vardeman / Flickr-CC

Can you name one of the Academy Award nominated short films for this year? Let our film critics help you out. 

On Friday's Up to Date, our independent, foreign, and documentary film critics look at some of the lesser-known Oscar nominees, plus Spinning Plates, a documentary that gives audiences a taste of what it's like to own a restaurant.

More Than One In Seven Americans Receive Food Stamp Benefits

Jan 27, 2014

Fifteen percent of Americans received federal food stamp benefits in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report. That includes about 936,000 people in Missouri and 316,000 in Kansas. The program is the most controversial issue for negotiators working on a new farm bill.