Peggy Lowe

Investigations Editor, Harvest Public Media

Peggy Lowe is Harvest Public Media's investigations editor. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now, and Latino USA.

Before her return to the Midwest in 2011, she was a multimedia producer and writer at The Orange County Register in Southern California.

Until 2005, she was in Denver, where she was a reporter for the late, great Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post, KBCO and the Associated Press. Lowe was the Mike Wallace Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the University of Michigan in 2008-2009. 

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Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

They came north from McPherson and south from Cloud County. East from Hays and west from Topeka.  

From the far-off reaches of Kansas's 1st Congressional District, representatives of the state’s agriculture interests met in a small storefront in Salina on a recent July morning, making history.

“You drove all this way,” says Roger Marshall, “you have to get your photo taken!”

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment must recognize same-sex marriages, allowing gay and lesbian couples the same benefits as others.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree’s decision forbids the state agency from enforcing the now-unconstitutional Kansas law banning same-sex marriage, further clarifying just how Kansas must respond to the new law.

Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

Food companies and farm groups were the victors Thursday with the passage of a federal bill establishing standards for the disclosure of genetically-modified ingredients in food products.

In a 306-117 vote, the U.S. House approved a bill that supersedes a much stricter law that went into effect in Vermont on July 1. The measure, pushed through the Senate last week, is expected to be signed by President Obama.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican who authored a House  bill passed last year that offered companies an even weaker standard for labeling, applauded the bipartisan compromise.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

(Updated Friday to note House support)

The U.S. Senate late Thursday approved a bill that outlaws states’ efforts to put labels on food products made with genetically-modified organisms and instead gives companies more leeway in disclosing GMOs.

Ronnie Russell, who farms near Richmond, Mo., stands in one of his soybean fields.
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

On this sunny, summer morning in late June, Ronnie Russell is “windshield farming.”

Driving from field to field in his Ford pick-up, he can see that his corn is about to tassel, his soybeans are mostly weed-free and white butterflies are floating above the alfalfa.

All three crops, adding up to about 1,500 acres, are grown with genetically-engineered seeds, a technology Russell views as a boon to farming.

Just a week before a Vermont law kicks in requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients, U.S. Senate agriculture leaders announced a deal Thursday that takes the power out of states' hands — and sets a mandatory national system for GM disclosures on food products.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, unveiled the plan that had been negotiated for weeks with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

Teresa, 31, worked at a pork processing plant in Nebraska for five years until injuries to her shoulder forced her to quit.
Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska.

He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call “the chain” – was moving so fast, that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people.

“You’ve been working there for three hours, four hours, and you’re working so fast and you see the pigs going faster, faster,” he says. 

Peggy Lowe/ KCUR 89.3

Angry, anguished, and finally emboldened by a kind judge, a Kansas City woman who was raped and nearly killed 17 years ago on Thursday vowed to find her attacker’s other victims and help reform the law enforcement system.

Illustration by Jacob Joslyn

Juliette was startled awake on August 17, 1999, and faced a woman’s worst nightmare: a man was in her bedroom, brandishing a large knife.

“He said, ‘Be quiet and I won’t hurt you,’” says Juliette (a pseudonym). “I thought that meant he was going to rape me and leave.”

flickr/USDA

An outbreak of a bird flu has hit southwestern Missouri. While less contagious than the strain of avian flu that devastated the Midwest chicken and turkey industry last spring, the infection is still potent enough to call for the destruction of birds.

On Wednesday, when the outbreak was confirmed by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the commercial turkey farm in Jaspar County, near Joplin, was still quarantined. Some 39,000 birds were destroyed last week as a precaution.

YouTube

A former Kansas City police officer will serve a short time in prison and be barred from working in law enforcement after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in an excessive force case.

Shannon Hansen, 46, was one of three Kansas City officers involved in the May 2014 incident. Caught on police dashboard camera, an enraged Hansen can be seen holding down, cursing and threatening then 24-year-old Manuel Palacio, a Mexican American robbery suspect.

Courtesy

The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office announced Thursday that it had filed charges in a case that has stumped authorities for 27 years.

Melvin Shields, 48, of Wichita, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Steve Ray, 33, and Jolene Jones, 27.

Ray and Jones, who were described as long-time friends who had a daughter together, went to lunch on April 27, 1988 and their bodies were found at 19th and Argentine streets the next day.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

The 44th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade marched down Broadway Thursday, attracting the Irish and their friends who love to dress in green. Around 150,000 people were expected to join in the festivities, according to organizers. 

Because this year's theme was "Blarney on Broadway," KCUR asked folks what they thought about blarney during a presidential election year.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Senate rejected a bill Wednesday that would have outlawed states from mandating labels on foods with genetically-modified ingredients, leaving the issue in limbo as a state labeling law looms.

The measure by Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, failed to get the 60 votes needed to move ahead, leaving the path open for Vermont’s mandatory labeling law to go into effect July 1. That was quickly applauded by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

The Western Farm Show in Kansas City, Missouri, is a long way from Silicon Valley.

But here in a huge arena, set in what used to be the Kansas City Stockyards, the high-tech future of agriculture is for sale.

Casey Adams and Scott Jackman, co-owners of Fly Ag Tech, have their large yellow and white drone sitting at center stage in their booth at this huge annual trade show.

“It’s got a GPS, so it knows where it’s at, underneath here you’ll see an autopilot, its an onboard computer,” he said.

Courtesy Ben & Jerry's

Calling a Vermont law that creates mandatory labeling of food that has genetically engineered ingredients a “wrecking ball,” Republican Sen. Pat Roberts won first-round approval Tuesday of his bill that would circumvent the state law.

Campbell Soup Co.

The latest showdown in the battle about labeling food that has genetically-modified ingredients is set for next week when U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts plans to force a vote on a draft bill in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Courtesy / Alex Smith Blake

Alex Smith has been married 15 times.

No, not the star quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.

We found 15 Alex Smiths who have been married in Jackson or Johnson counties in the last 20 years.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

A highly contagious strain of avian flu, a huge trade pact opening export markets and a few “restless” agribusinesses top Harvest Public Media's list of the biggest agriculture and food stories of 2015.

No. 1 – A bird flu never before seen in North America devastated the egg and turkey industries, sending prices up and the government scrambling to respond.

Tom Porto

A 24-year-old Mexican American man has filed an excessive force lawsuit against three Kansas City police officers, alleging assault, battery and conspiracy during an arrest caught on police dash-cam video.

The Kansas City Police Department is investigating the May 2, 2014, arrest of Manuel Palacio as a criminal case of police misconduct.  

The nearly 19-minute video shows a surprised Palacio, who was walking down Independence Ave., at Cypress, being rammed with a police cruiser and knocked to the ground.

BigStock

Susanne Byerly can laugh now, four years later, talking about how she and her husband were trying to eat healthy food when they bought ground turkey for their spaghetti dinner.

Byerly, along with her husband, Jerry, and their two-year-old, Jack, were on vacation with extended family in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. While buying supplies at a local grocery store, they decided to swap ground beef for poultry because they were watching their weight.

Green bean casserole is specifically a staple of the rural Midwest. What characterizes Midwestern cuisine, and how did it come about that a food-producing region celebrates the season's bounty with a recipe based entirely on canned foods?

Guests:

  • Lucy Long, director, Center for Food and Culture
  • Judith Fertig, local cookbook author and "foodista"
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Move over turkey. Step aside stuffing.

Green Bean Casserole, an iconic Thanksgiving dish, turns 60 years old this year and it’s as popular as ever.

Love it or loathe it, the classic Midwestern casserole has come to mean more than just a mashup of processed food sitting next to the mashed potatoes.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Blake Hurst rides ten feet above his soybean field in northern Missouri, looking more like he’s playing a video game than driving a $350,000 high-tech piece of machinery.

As he rolls across the land in his John Deere combine, joystick in hand, three computer monitors offer him a host of information. He knows how much fertilizer was used, the beans’ moisture content, how full the grain tank is, and that he’s getting 60 bushels an acre.  

Earl Dotter / Oxfam America

Americans eat more chicken than any other meat, an average of 89 pounds a year.

That enormous demand for a high protein source that’s considered relatively inexpensive is literally feeding the $50 billion poultry industry. While many people are concerned with the welfare of meat animals, there appears to be little consumer concern for how the workers are treated.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

  Who murdered Paula Beverly Davis?

This week, KCUR looked at a case that began as a missing person in 1987, only to be discovered 22 years later as a homicide.

Davis’ two sisters, Stephanie Clack and Alice Beverly, found her as an identified person, Englewood Jane Doe, in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, in 2009.  We told that story on Tuesday. (The story is here.)

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in September 2015.    

This is the second of a two-part series. For part one of this story, click here.

Courtesy of Stephanie Clack

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in September 2015.  

When Alan Meade made police detective in Englewood, Ohio, in 2003, he inherited the department’s only unidentified person case.

The Chipotle Cultivate Festival in Kansas City, Mo., on July 18 had it all: an indie pop band onstage, long lines at the beer booths. It was like a Grateful Dead concert, only with free burritos.

But this and the three other Chipotle Cultivate events held across the country this summer were more than just a classic summertime music festival. Billed as offering "food, ideas and music," the festival offers a chance to "learn a free burrito," by going through four exhibits.

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