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Food Science History At NC State And Meal Prepping With Jackie Bea

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Kayte Young: From WFIU in Bloomington Indiana, I’m Kayte Young. Welcome to Earth Eats. 

Todd Kosmerick: I mean science is trial and error, and you know... scientists and engineers will tell you... you know, the failures are just as important as the successes because it tells, you know… now you know what not to do. 

KY: On this week's show we dive into the food science archives at North Carolina State and uncover some strange experiments. Atomic peanuts anyone? 

Jackie Bea Howard shares a recipe for a colorful rice bowl featuring meatballs and Moroccan flavors. And Harvest Public Media reports on emergency managers testing plans on what to do African Swine Fever, were to hit U.S. pork industry. 

That’s all coming up in the next half hour on Earth Eats, so stay with us. 

African Swine Fever has been infecting its way through the pig herds of Asia. Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports that while the disease isn’t here, the U.S. pork industry is preparing for a possible crisis. 

Amy Mayer: African Swine Fever infected China in August 2018, and since then its devastated the world’s largest pig herd. And that’s got pork producers here worried. So, in September 14 U.S. states and the federal government held a four-day simulation exercise to test their preparedness. 

Mike Naig: You’re in charge. What do you want? Are you ready? 

Unidentified Woman: Yeah. 

MK: Okay. Alright, well. 

AM: On day two of the simulation, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, took a break from the role-playing at the state emergency operation center near Des Moines to talk to reporters about how it was going. He said the simulation poked some holes in the plans, which is exactly the point. And he said as the nation’s number #1 pork producing state, Iowa has a critical role. 

MK: If we're a leader in production, we oughta be a leader in how we respond. 

AM: The exercise tested how states would get the first samples to the U.S. Department of Agriculture lab on the east coast and how to stop trucks moving pigs, feed, and manure. Amanda Luitjens joined the exercise from Christensen farms where she's the animal welfare auditor. The network of hog farms includes sites in Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Iowa.

Amanda Luitjens: We are spending a lot of time and energy working on these plans that all of us hopefully never have to use. 

AM: She says they keep track of every person, pig and truck that comes and goes from each of the 400 Christensen affiliated farms. But there's no way to know whether the preparations they're making will ultimately prove useful if the virus gets here. 

AL: We also understand this is a new and evolving beast. So, its gonna be changing. 

AM: To be clear, African Swine Fever is nowhere in the western hemisphere. But it could arrive on any plane from an infected country. 

Jim Roth: It won't come across our land borders unless it first gets into a different country. 

AM: That's Iowa State University Veterinary Medicine Professor, Jim Roth. 

JR: The major concern is people and products from positive countries. And there are more and more positive countries all the time. 

AM: Roth participated in the simulation from USDA's incident headquarters, in Maryland. He says Asia has provided a sobering reality check. From China the virus has spread to North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines. 

JR: We've learned a lot from what they've done in those other countries. But when... what we've learned is they haven't been able to stop it. So, we need to really be prepared. 

AM: And even while the U.S. was running its hypotheticals in September, the disease spread to South Korea, a country considered almost as prepared as the United States. 

Unidentified Woman: -speaking Korean-

Unidentified Man: -speaking Korean-

AM: This newscast says that the disease has been confirmed and explains its nearly 100% lethal to pigs and has prompted government officials to launch efforts to contain it. 

Two weeks after the simulation and the South Korean announcement, I caught up with Roth and his colleague Veterinary Pathologist Kim Jinoh. They pieced together what happened in South Korea and what it implies for the readiness of the United States. 

Farmers expect to see sick pigs at times. South Korean producers were coached to monitor for specific symptoms. Jinoh says those didn't always show up.  

Kim Jinoh: Immediately people recognize that the clinical signs that the textbook describes is not all that's there.  

AM: So now and for U.S. producers, Roth says don't wait for additional signs if a pig has a fever or a stops eating. 

JR: The message is called a veterinarian right away. 

AM: But Roth and Jinoh agree that should the United States become positive for African Swine Fever, pork dumplings and bacon could become scarce worldwide. 

JR: The world is gonna have to reckon with a shortage of pork, and how... how do we do that. 

AM: On the other hand, planners recognize that consumers here might lose interest in pork if there's a deadly pig disease. That would cause the opposite problem - a glut of cheap ham and sausage in the U.S.

Precautions remain strong. Some swine shows and events have been modified or cancelled. Oklahoma recently became the 23rd state to ban feeding cooked food waste to pigs, and the USDA has brigades of beagles sniffing for contraband salami at airports. 

Amy Mayer, Harvest Public Media. 

KY: Harvest Public Media reports on our food system from the heartland. Find more from this reporter collective, at

Universities are synonymous with research, experimentation, tinkering, failures and successes. At North Carolina State University, a hub of agriculture and food science research and product development, archivists collect and preserve some of the most interesting details in food history. Producer Josephine McRobbie brings us this story from the campus in Raleigh North Carolina. 

Savannah Starnes: Right now, to the right you can see we've got peanut plants and from there we've got cotton, soybeans, wheat and... 

Josephine McRobbie: The brickyard at North Carolina State University is a little different from your typical college quad. Though, to be fair it is agricultural awareness week. Savannah Starnes - a senior majoring in agricultural science is walking me through the exhibits of baby chicks and crop samples as the trailers of cows, goats and pigs leave for the day. 

SS: But we do this every spring in hopes to kind of bring the barnyard to the brickyard and educate... you know, students that don't come from agricultural backgrounds about agriculture. For them to.... you know, find out where their food comes from, find out where their clothing comes from and things like that. 

JM: So, what does this university have to do with the where our foods come from, and what hits and misses have happened along the way? 

NC State has a long and varied history of agricultural and food research, with programs in everything from poultry science, to feed mill management, to sustainable food systems. I'm here at NC State to meet with archivist Todd Kosmerick and Virginia Ferris. 

They've assembled two long tables full of archival goodies related to food and agricultural science. 

Todd Kosmerick: We've got photographs, we've got press releases, we've got scrap books

JM: Are there any preserved foods in the archives? 

TK: No. That's a great question though. 

JM: The special collection's research center works with units all over campus to identify and preserve historically valuable records and documents. 

TK: Agriculture is part of the reason why the university was established in 1887, to provide a place of higher education where North Carolina... North Carolinians could learn the latest kind of farming techniques that were being researched and developed. 

JM: The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service was established in 1914. And around the same time Jane McKinnon was hired to lead a statewide home demonstration program. These home demonstration projects aimed to provide services to rural women and girls throughout the state. 

Virginia Ferris: This whole folder is material from a handbook that... or binder of materials that a home demonstration agent would have used teaching them... especially things like canning, which was a new technology at the time, a very emerging technology, that was mostly used by kind of companies that were producing food for a growing market. But this was putting that technology in the hands of young women in rural communities who were learning through Jane McKinnon's program how to grow their own food, how to preserve that food, and then also how to market and sell that food for their own profit and for their families. 

JM: The goal of agriculture and extension at NC State was to use science to improve lives. 

VH: The university, the land grant is here doing all of this research, creating new tools, creating new breeds of plants that then come back to each of the counties in the state through extension. 

JM: And in the process of developing new methods for creating and distributing foods, NC State researchers started to come up with some pretty unusual stuff. 

Dr. Maurice Hoover began at NC state in the 1950's. Around the same time food science was becoming an established field of study. His ultimate goal was to create a food processing industry in North Carolina and food dehydration was his process of choice. 

The archival record describes his experimentations with vegan-friendly sounding treats, peanut cheese, sweet potato chips, fruit pellets, and something called a soy anti-log. 

TK: You know that's a picture of ham, and he's holding in one hand a jar of the pellets and he's holding in another hand a jar of the full-sized fruit. 

They're just like little round things, they don’t look like strawberry. And its black and white photography so it doesn't have the color to it that we could tell you know, that it would have come from a strawberry. 

JM: I asked Todd about some of the less appetizing ideas. 

TK: Dr. Hoover freeze-dried seafood. Yeah. 

JM: Do you know what seafood? 

TK: Yes. Shrimp. 

JM: Lobster? 

TK: African lobster tails. I did run across a clipping where it said "if you've ever had a shrimp cocktail you've probably had... you know, that the shrimp in that cocktail was probably freeze-dried."

JM: Another big figure was Dr. Walton Gregory, a crop scientist who created something called the atomic peanut. 

TK: So he wanted to just induce genetic variation to see what kinds of things would come out of that, that might be useful. And so he exposed some peanut seed to x-rays, which messed up the genetics. But and then planted those seed peanuts to see what happened. It sounds like in most of the cases it created some weird looking plants that didn't really survive very well. 

Dr. Walton Gregory: They were damaged psychologically and physiologically and my hands some (inaudible) distorted forms of a plant life in...

JM: But it did yield some viable crops and Lady Bird Johnson is said to have tried an atomic peanut when she visited NC State in 1963. 

Dr. Gregory was shockingly part of a larger trend of experimenting with this kind of technology in the 1950's and 60's. There was even a national group called the Atomic Gardening Society. 

Eventually Dr. Gregory came to realize that the publicity the product brought in was more substantial than its usefulness and he and others moved on to other methods of plant breeding. 

TK: I mean science is trial and error, and you know... scientists and engineers will tell you... you know, the failures are just as important as the successes because it tells, you know… now you know what not to do. 

JM: And through these unusual experimentations we see a clear thread of pretty grounded work. 

TK: So looking back at mid 20th century, you know can be amusing or sometimes frightening about what people came up with. But you know... at the time I... they thought they were improving people's lives. 

KY: Thanks to producer Josephine McRobbie for that story. Check out our website for links and a photo of the atomic peanut from the North Carolina State University's Food Science Archive. You can find that at And I hope you'll join us on Twitter, where we share all sorts of stories and conversations about food history, food policy, food justice, farmworkers, and yes - even recipes. Find us on Twitter at EarthEats. 

Production support comes from Elizabeth Ruh, Enrolled Agent, providing customized financial services for individuals, businesses, disabled adults including tax planning, bill paying, and estate services.  More at Personal Financial Services dot net

Insurance agent Dan Williamson of Bill Resch Insurance. Offering comprehensive auto, business and home coverage, in affiliation with Pekin Insurance. Beyond the expected. More at 812-336-6838

And Bill Brown at Griffy Creek Studio, architectural design and consulting for residential, commercial and community projects. Sustainable, energy positive and resilient design for a rapidly changing world. Bill at griffy creek dot studio.

Jackie Bea Howard is with us today, and as she's known to do, Jackie is meal-prepping. In other words, she's preparing meals ahead of time for the week ahead or for the freezer. Today Jackie is putting together a cauliflower rice bowl, where you substitute cauliflower for rice, featuring gingered turkey meatballs, a bright orange harissa inspired sauce, crispy oven-roasted chickpeas and more. 

Jackie is going all out for this bowl. But she reminds us that bowls don't have to be complicated. 

Jackie Howard: It has a lot of different components to it, I'm gonna talk you through all of them. You don't have to use all of them, the best thing about a bowl is that you can make it whatever you want it to be, and use the things that you have. But I am going to start with the ground turkey meatballs. I've got two pounds of ground turkey. I'm working with two pounds because I'm gonna freeze some of these meatballs and use them for other things. They're gonna be ginger, it'll be ginger, and garlic, and salt, and pepper, and that'll be the base so then it can take any sort of sauce sort of in those similar flavor profiles. Gives you a lot of versatility but still gives them a good amount of flavor. 

So I've got the two pounds of turkey, one egg, and then I'm gonna do about a quarter of a cup of almond flour. I'm gonna add two tablespoons of ginger puree, and a tablespoon of garlic puree. So I'm mixing these together. I'm gonna add two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. 

Now this is not something that we're gonna taste as we go. So this we're gonna do on smell. It smells... the ginger is really coming up out of it. So I feel confident about that. And the other thing that's gonna be fine about these meatballs... as long as they are seasoned well enough with the salt, and the ginger they're gonna get extra... they're getting sauce and other things added to them. It's gonna get extra flavor to it. It doesn't need to be all the way in. 

And then they are a few ways that you can cook these, you can pan fry them. I'm gonna bake them. I'm gonna cover these in sauce. If I weren't going to cover them in sauce I would want to pan fry them so I can get that nice brown, you know... beautiful caramelized look to it. Since I'm gonna put this in sauce, I’m not as worried about getting that look from it. And if I bake them then I can have my pan free for sautéing the cauliflower rice. 

Much more efficient in your time especially when you know it's two pounds of turkey it's a lot of meatballs, trying to pan fry those. I'd be here all day trying to do that. So I'm gonna take them and I got a sheet pan covered in foil. I'm rolling these into about a one-inch to one-and-a-half-inch ball. My oven is at 400 degrees, I've got them all lined up on the pan, throwing this in the oven and it'll take about 20 minutes. The turkey is gonna cook faster than beef would so keep that in mind, it's a leaner meat so it's gonna cook up faster. I will check them around 15 minutes and then see if they actually take up to that 20. 

So then while those are in the oven we're gonna go ahead and sauté the cauliflower rice. For that I am doing a tablespoon of coconut oil. You can hear that pan is hot and ready. So you can make cauliflower rice, it's really easy to do, you just take that cauliflower and put it into your food processor and break it up... you know, dice it up into little tiny pieces. Or you can get it prepared at the store, or you can get it fresh prepared in the produce section or frozen as well. This cauliflower rice is actually a mix of cauliflower, carrot and broccoli. I like the mix sometimes for  you know it adds some extra color and fun. 

I'm just sautéing this straight as it is right now, four cups of cauliflower rice. And then I'm gonna add salt, about a teaspoon maybe a teaspoon-and-a-half, a teaspoon of pepper, a tablespoon of turmeric. 

I'm keeping it moving in the pan, this is something I really... I don't want to just set and forget. Because I don't want... I want the consistency of the cauliflower rice... I want it to cook pretty evenly. I'm trying to mimic the rice and how that might feel. I wanna slightly undercook it, because as it sits here it's gonna continue to cook a little bit. So I'm just doing this... it was what? Maybe three or four minutes, and I'm pulling it off. And I'mma let it sit off the heat.  

And I'mma add a pomegranate. So I gotten... I got a pomegranate and I’ve had it soaking in some water. I cut it into quarters, have it soaking in some water, so that it'll help loosen up the seeds out of it. And then I'm gonna just toss the seeds right into this. 

I'm making some crunchy chickpeas to go on top of my bowl. So I’ve taken a can of chickpeas, put it onto a foil-lined sheet pan. I wanna dry them out at a lower temperature and let them sit for a while on their own. Then I’m gonna add the oil and seasoning and I want that to bake onto the outside. I’m gonna do it at a slightly higher temperature, I'm gonna move that up to... so it was at 375 for the half hour, now I’m gonna move it up to 400 and just do it for 10 minutes. I'm just gonna that finish and make it crunchy and get that seasoning set on the outside. 

They're so versatile and they're a nice fun snack. Like these are... this is something you could bake and have around. So I’m gonna them put it in the oven, I have half a teaspoon of oil and honestly just some shakes of the seasoning across the top of them, toss them in it. I'm gonna guess it's probably half a teaspoon of that. These are going back into the oven. And...

KY: Just for 10 minutes at 400? 

JH: Yes. And then I'm actually going to set a timer because I really do not want to overbake them. 

Meatballs are out of the oven, chickpeas are in the oven. I'm gonna make the orange harissa sauce and then a spinach tabouli as well. 

So I'm gonna make the orange harissa sauce. Harissa would typically be with a... you would use a red pepper. Reconstitute a chili pepper of some sort, a chili (inaudbile20:23) bowl perhaps. I would use some chipotle. I don't have either of those today so I'm gonna do the jalapeno and some tomato paste. 

So I should note that when I say that this is a harissa sauce, it's a harissa inspired sauce like most things that I do. I take what's traditionally... you know, sort of those components and I make them fit what I like and what I want. So I’m looking at harissa as a red pepper sauce. This is my take on that sauce. Traditionally you might find caraway in it. I don't do the caraway because I like the orange and the mint. But this is how I cook using what I have and using the flavors that I like and putting it together in the way that I want to eat it. 

So I've got the twelve ounces of roasted red pepper, doing a whole jalapeno. I'm gonna do four cloves of garlic, about a teaspoon-and-a-half of cumin, teaspoon of smoked paprika, teaspoon and-a-half of salt, the juice of an orange, doing a half can of tomato paste. We're gonna start with four mint leaves, fresh mint leaves. That's not typical for harissa sauce. The orange and mint are not typical, that's my fun spin on it. So I’m gonna puree this. 

So I'm tasting my sauce. The roasted red pepper is nice, I'd like a little more mint out of it, as it sits more that mint is gonna come out of it, so I wanna be careful that I don't add too much. It could use a little bit of the salt, and a little more acidity. So I'm gonna add just a touch of red wine vinegar to it. So I’m gonna add acid to it first, because I know that it needs the acid and I may that I don't need salt if I add the acid it might be enough. And then if I find that that's not quite enough, then I’ll add more salt. 

So I have about a half of... no, probably a quarter of a teaspoon of red wine vinegar to start. I don't want the red wine vinegar flavor to take over. So I want to make sure I’m mindful of how much I’m putting in. I just want the acidity of it. 

Lemon juice would be another option that you could do if you didn’t have red wine vinegar. I like the red wine vinegar with the roasted red pepper. So that's why I'm going that route. But you certainly could do lemon instead. 

KY: If you've heard Jackie Bea on our show before you know she likes to taste as she goes, and she makes many adjustments. This time was no different, she added more orange juice, she added more salt, she tasted, and she tweaked. 

JB: So I've got my sauce at a place where I want it to sit. I’m gonna put it in the fridge while I make all my other components and then before I actually serve it, I’m gonna test it again and see if there’s anything it might need. If it might need a little bit more of that red wine vinegar, see how the mint comes out of it. It's gonna be really bright and we have to remember that this is going onto those ginger turkey meatballs and that ginger is gonna be really like... its gonna have a kick to it. So it's really meant to compliment, and that ginger is going to be really great with this. 

The last component that I’m going to make for my bowl is a... like a play on a spinach tabouli. Not a... I'm not gonna add grain to it, something more like a spinach salad. So I’m gonna take fresh spinach, chop it up into sort of an herb if you imagine like the size of a flat leaf parsley unchopped. Right? So I'm gonna... that's what I’m chopping my spinach into. And then I’m gonna toss that with some salt and pepper, lemon juice, a little bit of garlic, and fresh cherry tomatoes that I’ve cut in half. Those are all gonna be put... mixed up together, and then go as a component to my bowl. 

The last two components to that are some roasted red onions and pickled carrots. I’m not making the pickled carrots. We certainly could cause I love pickled carrots, we can do that sometime. Today I’m using Indiana Pickle Company’s Upland Dragonfly pickled carrots. They are fantastic, they are so good. They are... I always have them in my fridge for... they're a great bowl component across the board. If I do a Mediterranean bowl, this is a Moroccan bowl, if I do a taco bowl, across the board those pickled carrots are my go-to if I’m not pickling my own. 

JBH: Moroccan cauliflower rice bowl is assembled, its beautiful, it looks great. The turmeric, and the pomegranate, and the cauliflower rice are a great juxtaposition of color. On top of that the ground turkey ginger meatballs with orange harissa, also bright and colorful. The spinach and tomato salad adding some freshness to it. Roasted red onions, the pickled carrots to really sort of pop on top of that bowl and then the crunchy chickpeas to add some texture. We might dollop this off with a little bit of yogurt if we wanted to, add some mint to that if we want to get really crazy.

Again all of these components are fun, if you just want to like play with some things. These are things that I mostly have around to be using, and so I’m gonna throw them together and put them together in this way. I also can break all this out and do something else with it. That spinach salad can be... you know, added to some other salad. The chickpeas on their own can be a snack, those meatballs are gonna be a few other dishes in the future. 

KY: Thank you Jackie. This is wonderful.  

JB: Thank you Kayte, I appreciate having you in the kitchen.  

KY: We've got a photo of Jackie’s bright colorful Moroccan inspired cauliflower rice bowl with turkey meatballs on our website. And as always, we have the recipe. You can search our recipe archive for old favorites and new inspirations at  

Now you might have noticed that Jackie's bowl had a lot of components. In part that's because Jackie is meal prepping. She's making several sauces, several dishes featuring meatballs. She's probably got another place for those crispy chickpeas and the spinach salad. Also because she might be enjoying similar meals throughout the week, she wants to build in opportunities to mix things up so she doesn't get bored with a single dish made the same way, every time. 

But as Jackie noted the beauty of a bowl is that you can make it your way. In fact, you can make this a vegetarian bowl, or a vegan bowl. You could use rice or another grain instead of cauliflower. You could use tofu, falafel, or veggie meatballs. You can even adjust Jackie's harissa sauce and experiment with different toppings. You can make your dream bowl as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Jackie Bea Howard tends to lean towards the elaborate, and can you blame her? 

That's all we have time for today. Thanks for tuning in to Earth Eats. 

Renee Reed: The Earth Eats team includes Eobon Binder, Chad Bouchard, Mark Chilla, Abraham Hill, Taylor Killough, Josephine McRobbie, Daniel Orr, The IU Food Institute, Harvest Public Media and me, Renee Reed.  Our theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey. Earth Eats is produced and edited by Kayte Young and our executive producer is John Bailey.

KY: Special thanks this week to Todd Kosmerick, Virginia Ferris and everyone at the NC state archives, and to Jackie Bea Howard. 

Production support comes from Insurance agent Dan Williamson of Bill Resch Insurance. Offering comprehensive auto, business and home coverage, in affiliation with Pekin Insurance. Beyond the expected. More at 812-336-6838

Elizabeth Ruh,  Enrolled Agent with Personal Financial Services.  Assisting businesses and individuals with tax preparation and planning for over fifteen years.  More at Personal Financial Services dot net

And Bill Brown at Griffy Creek Studio, architectural design and consulting for residential, commercial and community projects. Sustainable, energy positive and resilient design for a rapidly changing world. Bill at griffy creek dot studio.

Black and white photo of man and woman tating peanuts from a bag, at a table.

Man and woman eating "atomic" peanuts, 1959. (Courtesy NCSU Special Collections Research Center)

"Science is trial and error, and the scientists and engineers will tell you the failures are just as important as the successes, 'cuz it tells you--now you know what not to do."

On this week’s show producer Josephine McRobbie dives into the food science archive at North Carolina State University and uncovers some strange experiments...atomic peanuts, anyone?

Jackie Bea Howard shares a recipe for a colorful bowl featuring gingered meatballs, and Moroccan flavors.

And Harvest Public Media takes a look at the reports on emergency managers testing plans on what to do if the African swine fever were to hit the US pork industry.

Music on this episode:

Poor Souls by Actual Figures

Endless Dancing on Gede Pangrango by KieLoKaz, via Free Music Archive

Music in Josephine McRobbie's story by Suislyfe, Alexander Nakarada, Immortal Beats and Wido, via SoundCloud CC

Note: The section of oral history with Walton Gregory (heard in this episode), provided by NCSU.

Stories On This Episode

As African Swine Fever Continues Its March Across Asia, U.S. Pork Industry Preps For An Emergency


The threat to the pork industry feels imminent – especially in this state, which raises more pigs than any other.

Jackie Bea’s Moroccan-Inspired Cauliflower-Rice Bowl


Make your bowl your own, but be sure to make extra gingered-turkey meatballs, and freeze them for another dish.

Food Science History At NC State And Meal Prepping With Jackie Bea


Producer Josephine McRobbie visits the food science archives at North Carolina State and shares some interesting mid-century experiments.

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