A local blogger has collected and published photographs of the little corner grocery stores that used to fill Kansas City's midtown neighborhoods. It elicited a passionate response. What is it about the history and demise of mom n' pop groceries that touches a nerve?


Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Martin Heuser, an eighth generation chef, grew up in Bonn, Germany, where corn is eaten, but not a traditional part of the cuisine. He grew to appreciate fresh, local corn as an ingredient when he lived in Canada. 

"For me, corn is summertime," Heuser said it adds another component and flavor to a dish.

At his restaurant Affäre in the Crossroads, he features it in special recipes when it's in season.

If there's a sandwich of deli meat and processed cheese in your lunchbox, you might have the military to thank for it. On this edition of Up to Date, we talk about how convenience foods leaped from combat zones to your kitchen.


  • Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, author of Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the Military Shapes the Way You Eat
Courtesy photo / Snow and Co.

If your stomach is grumbling in the Kansas City area, the Missouri River plays a big role on how to satisfy those hunger pangs.

“It’s very much a psychological thing, you think you’re crossing into another country (when you cross the Missouri River),” said Jerry Nevins, co-owner of Snow & Co., an upscale frozen cocktail bar that started in the Crossroads Arts District. “Most everybody goes south.”

Just south of the river, you’ll find a plethora of dining options at independent restaurants in Kansas City on both sides of the state line.


Jul 24, 2015
Katie Knight/KCUR

We explore the landmark case of pie vs. cake. Two baking experts — one pro-pie, the other pro-cake — defend their desserts in a lively debate, then our Food Critics search for the best pies and cakes in Kansas City.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the “know where your food comes from” movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.

Do you clean your plate? Should you keep a chicken that's been in your freezer for 10 years? We visit farms, a meat processing plant, a compost heap, grocery stores and Kansas Citians' kitchens to explore the issue of food waste.

File photo

It’s over.

Republican legislators from the House and Senate mustered just enough votes to pass a $400 million tax increase Friday and end the historic 2015 session.

The session traditionally lasts 90 days. Friday was the 113th, as both chambers struggled to get Republican supermajorities to approve a substantial tax hike.

The final plan raises the state sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent. Senators ultimately gave up on a quest to tax groceries at a lower rate.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

Walk down a grocery store aisle today and you’re likely to find lots of food…and lots of marketing claims. Whether a product’s label says its low in fat, produced without hormones, or a good source of protein is largely governed by consumer demand and corporate profit.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The packaged foods found in supermarkets, convenience stores and vending machines are full of ingredients you often can’t pronounce.

They’ve been carefully developed and tested in a lab and likely have been shipped long distances. They can hold up to weeks or even months on the shelf. But most of them began with fresh food you might cook with at home.

Just how risky is eating poultry? On this edition of Up to Date, we look at salmonella contamination in poultry processing and the health risks to consumers.


  • David E. Hoffman is the correspondent for Frontline's The Trouble with Chicken. He is also a Pulitzer Prize winner and a contributing editor at The Washington Post.
  • Peggy Lowe is the investigative editor for KCUR and Harvest Public Media that follows agricultural issues in the Midwest.
Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

For customers stepping inside Abarrotes Delicias, the noise, traffic and heat of the surrounding Kansas City, Kansas, neighborhood seem to disappear.

The small store offers everything from tacos to snacks to money transfers – or just  an air-conditioned place to hang out and watch TV on a lazy afternoon.

Owner Graciela Martinez says she tries to provide a welcoming personal touch when serving her customers, who comprise a diverse sample of nearby residents.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Whatever someone’s route to gluten-free living might be, they soon find out it’s a bigger change than just giving up baked goods.

“It’s expensive,” says Karen Miller, a retired dietitian who helped out at the Wednesday open house of the ReNewed Health Allergy Friendly and Gluten Free Food Pantry in Overland Park, Kansas.

The boxes and bags of gluten-free flour, pasta, pancake mix and other food that line the pantry’s shelves cost two to four times as much as their gluten-rich counterparts.

Poison in your mouthwash? Roach killer in your coffee? On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss some of the ingredients in everyday products that may surprise you. 


  • Patrick Di Justo is a former editor at WIRED and author of This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets of What’s Inside Everyday Products.

For the estimated 15 million Americans with food allergies, what they eat can be deadly. On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss how food intolerances develop in children and adults and how to treat them.


Dr. Jeffrey Wald is an allergist with Kansas City Allergy & Asthma Associates.

Mother-Son Duo Are Reluctant Restaurateurs

May 1, 2015
Jen Chen / KCUR

Kashif Tufail is the owner of Chai Shai, a little Pakistani restaurant on the corner of 59th Street and Holmes in Brookside. Besides all the neighborhood regulars, it’s become a gathering spot for Pakistani students at UMKC. 

And before they eat, Tufail says, they always ask him, “Are these samosas as good as my mom's?"

“And I say, 'Yeah, I believe so.'”

Once they eat them, and agree on how good they are, Tufail reveals, “You know whose samosas those are? Those are my mom’s.”

Tony Cenicola / Michael Moss

For decades, food companies have been deliberately bumping up the salt, sugar and fat levels in processed foods to get us hooked. And those unhealthy foods have played a big part in our current epidemic of health problems, including obesity and diabetes. So argues Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Moss in his 2013 book “Salt, Sugar and Fat: How The Food Giants Got Us Hooked.” KCUR caught up with Moss recently when the author was in town to speak at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

llovebutter / Flickr--CC

What inspires people in white collar jobs, or those just out of college, to take up farming? As the trend continues, we hear from people who have done just that about how it's going and whether they're finding whatever it was they were looking for.


Jen Chen, KCUR

According to Erik Borger, the chef-owner of Il Lazzarone, there's a specific way to make authentic Neapolitan pizza. And he should know; his original Il Lazzarone restaurant in St. Joseph has been certified as authentically Neapolitan by the American Delegation of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.

Recently, our food critic Charles Ferruzza visited Borger's newest outpost in Kansas City's River Market to get the details on making an authentic Neapolitan pie.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Excitement enveloped a small band of foodies on Sunday as they feasted their way through a tour of Kansas City’s unique food offerings. 

Julián Zugazagoitia, director of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, helped organize the private tour for Spanish master chef Ferran Adrià, whose notes and sketches are on display at the museum in an exhibition called Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity. The tour started at the J. Rieger & Co. distillery.

Gunnar Magnusson / Flickr-CC

When you think of cheese, you might think Wisconsin's got the market covered, but a few local cheese producers say Kansas City has something special too.

Weston's Green Dirt Farm exclusively makes sheep's milk cheese and is one of only a few sheep dairies in the country to make its own cheese. Cheese made from different milks-- cow, goat and sheep--have different tastes. Sheep's milk cheese, for instance, can have a nutty flavor.

On Friday's Up to Date, we discussed these cheeses:

University of Missouri Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City will open a food pantry at the end of March in a step to combat food insecurity among its students.

College is often associated with ‘the freshman fifteen’, but with tuition costs climbing each year, many students are finding themselves unable to pay for food.

Angela Cottrell is the director of the Office of Student Involvement at UMKC, which will be operating the food pantry. She says that many students ask themselves a difficult question every day, "Would I rather have a meal or do I need that money to pay my tuition?"

Michael Cannon / Flickr -- Creative Commons


A Kansas City-based nonprofit organization says a recent poll shows widespread support for exempting some foods from the Kansas sales tax.

Ashley Jones-Wisner, state policy manager for KC Healthy Kids, says the survey conducted for the Kansas Health Foundation showed that 86.6 percent of Kansans supported exempting fruits and vegetables from the state sales tax.

The Wichita-based foundation helps to fund KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing obesity among children.

Thanksgiving Breakfast Dance Facebook Page

On Thanksgiving morning, when people all over the nation express their gratitude by sleeping in or toiling away in the kitchen, several hundred Kansas Citians step out in their finest attire to head to a giant party — with live music, dancing, and heaping helpings of Louisiana gumbo.

For breakfast.

Connecting, Trading, And Traveling With Bread

Nov 21, 2014
Malin Elmlid /

Bakers all over the world experience the intoxicating smell of fresh baked bread, and many share their work with their communities. On this edition of Up to Date, host Steve Kraske talks with a woman who has traveled the world with her sourdough starter sharing it with people from Berlin to Afghanistan. 


Managing Holiday Kitchen Chaos

Nov 20, 2014 / Flickr Creative Commons


Thanksgiving is just around the bend, and with it comes the influx of family, good food, and ... chaos. The pressure to get that turkey just right or having too many cooks in the kitchen at one time can make the  holidays  more than a little stressful. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with three Kansas City chefs about their tips on maintaining calm in busy kitchens and how to avoid a full-blown culinary disaster. 


Rules that require more information on meat labels may be on the outs.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack seemed to signal for the first time Friday that the rules are not compliant with World Trade Organization standards and must be fixed.

“We’ve done a 360-degree look and I can tell you that we do not think there’s a regulatory fix that would allow us to be consistent with the law, which I’ve sworn to uphold, and to satisfy the WTO,” Vilsack said.

Kate Hiscock / Flickr, Creative Commons

With eaters taking an interest in food extending beyond recipes, food writing is gaining a voracious audience. Food can be a character, or a source of potent metaphor. It can also tell us something important about ourselves and our society. Kansas City experts offer insights and recommendations.

Guests and their recommendations:

Cat Neville, founder, Feast Magazine

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

The chestnut harvest in Kansas ends during the first few weeks of October, and every year around that time 40 to 50 workers pick pounds of nuts from 1,500 chestnut trees on an orchard right outside of downtown Lawrence.

Since 1995, Charlie NovoGradac, also known as "Chestnut Charlie," and Deborah Milks have been cultivating, collecting and distributing chestnuts.

When the harvest is over, the orchard is covered in gigantic thorny cockleburs. As they ripen during the season, these prickly husks open and release the chestnuts.

Lady Dragonfly CC - >;< / Flickr, Creative Commons

Little-known fact: It's chestnut harvesting season in Kansas. So what's the scene at the local chestnut orchard? And how are chefs using the overall nut bounty in area kitchens?