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Campus dining in a pickle--plus artichoke pickle poetry, a pickled carrot recipe & more

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KAYTE YOUNG From WIU in Bloomington, IN I'm Kate Young and this is Earth eats. This week on the show, we look at challenges for campus dining in the midst of a labor shortage. Challenges for black farmers hoping to enter the hemp industry. Why Maple syrup production is on the rise in Midwestern states, plus. 

SPEAKER “Aromas flew on steamy clouds of heat when canned. The waiting was the longest time. How many weeks or months before we eat?"

KAYTE YOUNG We've got a pickle recipe, a poem about Pickles and more. This episode is packed. Stay with us. Thanks for listening to Earth eats. I'm KaYte Young.

The US Department of Agriculture's first ever survey of hemp production found an industry worth more than $800 million. But the recent report also showed a glaring diversity issue. Just 6% of hemp growers are Black. Cannabis has been a difficult market for people of color to break into, but some hope that hemp could offer a new way in. Harvest Public Media Corinne Ruff recently visited what could be Missouri's first black owned industrial hemp site.

CORINNE RUFF If you drive just northwest of Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks, you'll pass Mennonites and horse drawn buggies and come across a curvy road that leads to a wrought iron gate behind it sits a forgotten piece of Missouri black history. Lake Placid, the private black owned cabin retreat, thrived in the mid 1900s, but it's fallen into disrepair. 

BRENDALYN KING We've got what I call dilapidation. 

CORINNE RUFF Brendalyn King walks around a group of old cabins built in the 1940s. They sit at the entrance to 244 acres of land that she and her partner recently purchased. They co-founded what they called the Salem Hemp Kings and they're one of about 130 licensed industrial hemp producers in Missouri.

BRENDALYN KING We want to be a black owned hemp processor, we want that to be a part of our legacy. We moved here for this. We got a little sidetracked, you know, a little forks in the road, but it ended up being a nice road to be landed on.

CORINNE RUFF It was a windy road for the Saint Louis native and her partnerOsei Doyl  to Lake Placid, they first started growing hemp in Illinois in 2020 but their deal to buy land fell through. Then they found Lake Placid and fell in love with its history. Now their goal is to use this hilly land as a testing ground to create hemp based products such as building materials to fix up these old cabins. King says hemp stocks can be turned into something called hemp heard and used as a wood alternative.

BRENDALYN KING Anything wood can be used from him, so pressing that hemp heard together and like floorboards or wall boards.

CORINNE RUFF This is a little atypical for hemp farmers.Most are growing it to make CBD.The plant extract used in. Things like lotions and oils. And Angela Dawson is trying to help more black farmers learn how to do that. She's the founder of the 40 Acres Co-op based in northern Minnesota and she runs a mentorship program helping black farmers across states, including Illinois and Indiana

Dawson teaches how to grow hemp for CBD on a small scale.

ANGELA DAWSON We are using hemp as the economic basis and stimulus for really creating opportunities for our businesses. Because, you know, you may or may not know, but it's really tough to be an organic farmer. It usually doesn't pencil out in terms of income.

CORINNE RUFF She says growing hemp requires specific techniques and the right strain. Dawson has spent the last three years developing a hemp strain that won't test over the legal limit of .3% of THC. That's the psychoactive component of the plan. Testing too high can result in farmers losing their entire crop. Yet, experts such as Leon Moses say access to capital and land are the biggest barriers to entry for black farmers.

LEON MOSES No, I don't see a lot of opportunity, but I do see opportunity.

CORINNE RUFF Moses is the farm Superintendent at North Carolina A&T State University. He helped bring the industrial hemp program to the historically Black institution in 2016 he says, if the federal government wants to increase diversity in hemp and needs to offer the resources.

LEON MOSES First and foremost is provide either low interest loans or grants or those kinds of things that make funding available. For those farmers that may not have the funds.

CORINNE RUFF Back in Missouri, the Salem Hemp Kings have already jumped that barrier. They have their land at Lake Placid thanks to support from friends, but King says it'll be a few years until they can plant their first crop. 

BRENDALYN KING I know that it's a lifelong process. I'm not going anywhere, so even to know that we have a lot of ideas but also see my life horizon.I'm like yeah, I've got 50 years.

CORINNE RUFF In that time, King hopes to help other black farmers seize opportunities in hemp too for Harvest Public Media. I'm Corinne Ruff.

KAYTE YOUNG Find more from this reporter collective at


KAYTE YOUNG Though spring is just around the corner, we're still having some cold and gloomy days here in southern Indiana. Next up, we have a bright recipe featuring a crop that's known to improve in colder temperatures. So today we're going to make pickled carrots. You could call it a taqueria style pickled carrot. That's absolutely not authentic in any way, but it reminds me of the kind of carrots that I used to get at the taquerias in Houston when I lived there and they would just sort of have them in a jar on the table and they were so good and I used to eat so many of them with chips. You know, when you're. Get there and you're really hungry and you're waiting for your order.

And  they've got those chips and salsa and these pickled vegetables on the table, and I just I mostly remember the carrots and so when I left Houston I was looking for a recipe that would taste something like those taqueria pickled carrots. And so I found this one. I'm not exactly sure where it comes from.I feel like it's from a blog from a white guy in Texas, but I have been using it for years. It comes pretty close to satisfying the craving for these taqueria style pickled carrots. I grow carrots in my garden every year.I usually grow them in the ball and then they kind of stay in the ground over the winter and I harvest from them throughout the winter. And I've got some in the ground right now and I'm going to go. Dig some up. Hopefully it is very cold outside. It's well, it's not that cold, it's 29 degrees. 

I'm going to go out there. It's dark, but I'm going to go out there and see if I can dig up some of these carrots. I should probably grab some gloves. Let's see. In the carrot bed, I've got some netting over it to keep the deer from eating it, and I've got some straw over it. And it looks like the straw is doing its job of keeping the ground from being completely frozen solid. Oh, and I got a really nice big carrot out of the ground. Let's see if I can grab another one. Oh yea. All right, well I've got a couple more in the house, so I think this should probably be enough. These are huge. All right, it's cold out here. Let's get inside. You definitely want to peel the carrots first. The recipe calls for 2 pounds of large carrots, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch thick, about 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed. 1/2 of an onion sliced, 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar, 1/2 cups of water, 10 Bay leaves whole, one tablespoon of peppercorns, one tablespoon of Mexican oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a few fresh jalapenos, sliced. Hmm. And and these carrots are so good. When you grow them in the winter after the first frost, they really do become sweeter. The way I understand it, they concentrate their sugars into the root. And it just makes them taste so good. It's really worth the wait to grow your carrots in the fall and let them. Stay in the ground until after the first frost. Carrots really do well in cold weather. I've got some pretty small onions here from my garden. So we're going to add the garlic and the onions to some oil in a large saucepan and we're going to heat it up and saute it and just until it's fragrant. And then we're going to add the carrots I'm going to put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into this saucepan. The onions and the garlic are fragrant, and now I'm going to add the carrots. We're going to add 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar. I just want to add this carefully so it doesn't splatter, and the peppercorns and Bay leaf, salt, and the Mexican oregano. So we're going to bring this to a simmer and let it cook for about 5 minutes. After the carrot mixture has simmered for five minutes then it's time for the water and the jalapenos. And then at this point we can simmer it for another 5 or 10 minutes.It's kind of up to you on how firm you want the carrots to remain.I like mine more on the crisp side, so I'm probably going to stop after a few minutes. And that's it. Just let that cool to room temperature, pull it on it and stick it in the fridge and these will keep for months and months. These will probably keep until the spring so it's a great way to preserve your carrots. I love to eat these especially on tortilla chips.

 So, so that's pickled carrots, somewhat taqueria style. I hope you'll try it. And I hope you enjoy them.

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KAYTE YOUNG Raleigh, North Carolina based poet and storyteller. Beverly Fields Burnett originally published her poem Artichoke Pickle Passion in Catch the Fire, a cross generational anthology of contemporary African American poetry in 1998. It has since been republished nationally as well as in cookbooks. In honor of National Poetry Month, she joined producer Josephine McRobbie to talk about the inspiration behind her sonnet.

BEVERLY FIELDS BURNETT My name is Beverly Fields Burnett. I grew up in Rocky Mount, NC. We lived with my mother and her two old maid sisters. I eavesdropped and I was quiet. They thought I was just nosey. And I had to learn that if you don't sit right up close to grown people, they'll keep talking. If you say, oh, I'm tired of playing and you go and sit on the side of the porch or whatever, you can listen without looking directly at them. But the crazy thing about it? It has honed my skills for listening and remembering everybody's story. I am a retired school social worker, worked for Wake County Public Schools for 25 years. I am a published poet and a storyteller. I'm President of the North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers, and it's a an affiliate of the National Association of black storytellers. 

It was 10th grade and one day in English class the teacher said everyone everybody should write a poem. I remember just sitting and looking and trying to get something to inspire me. It got to be 9:30 at night and I'm still sitting there trying to write a poem. Finally, I just see it. In English class I was told to write a poem, also bow. I thought and thought and thought and thought and came up with his poem not miss Grams if this poem isn't right I won't get mad or argue get in a fight. It took much more than an hour and also a lot of brainpower. That was just a bit. She loved it. She took it around all over the school. Just a little rhyme ABAB rhyme poem that set me ablaze 'cause she was so proud. And then from then on. I didn't have to write about the flowers or the moon and the stars.I write about what was around me.I wrote this poem called Artichoke Pickle Passion, an Elizabethan poem put put in the form of such an ordinary everyday kind of thing. I just like the style of I like the the rhythm of that style.

 Artichoke pickle passion. A sonnet. In Southern Springs, we dug for artichokes and Miss Olivia's tall and weedy yard. She dipped her snuff but never, ever smoked. At 85, she wasn't of our God. Her back of Spitting's grew the vegetable well nourished, where the tubers strung the stalks. And even though their worth was questionable with hoe in hand, we dug postponing talk. Once washed, soaked, sliced, they met some torrid brine. Aromas flew on  steamy clouds of heat when canned. The waiting was the longest time. How many weeks or months before we eat. In Southern Springs, we do the precious root and still this day it is my passion fruit. My mother did domestic work, so my aunt flies who was retired teacher had out. She was out nursemaid you might statement I had one sister. And one day she said we were going to go up the street to miss Olivia's yard. In front of our house was the elementary school I went to and to the left or block up was an old. A whole long list of apartments that were really rather dilapidated looking. But Miss Olivia lived in a corner apartment and we have to pass her house. Going to church. And she'd be sitting on the porch and a little Gangnam faded dress and she would pull her stockings up to her knee and put a little knot in it. And so she had only stockings, and she had on a head rag, and she had her lip full of snuffed up. Every time I saw. And my aunt said we're gonna go up the missile, living his yard and did artichokes. I didn't know where artichokes were and most importantly, although Miss Olivia had these beautiful tall sunflowers, she always grew every year in her backyard. She'd be leaning over her back porch. And spitting into the yard. So we went 'cause you have to obey your elders? We went and dug and dug and dug. And it was the roots of these sunflowers. These 6 foot 7 foot, maybe even 8 foot tall. Flowers it called Jerusalem artichokes, and it's like the consistency of a sweet potato. I didn't write it till the 90s and I don't know about. I was about ten years old when we did this digging so she was already. I would love to, you know, sometimes it's children. You don't appreciate the elders around you, you know, and. Being as I said, the inquisitive one, I would have loved to have sat down with her and and found out her her family history. 


KAYTE YOUNG That was poet and storyteller Beverly Fields Burnett, talking with producer Josephine McRobbie in Raleigh, NC. After a short break, a report on the challenges of getting food to college students during supply chain breakdowns and staffing shortages plus a story about Maple syrup production in the Midwest and a soup recipe for spring, stay with us.


KAYTE YOUNG Our next story comes to us from Daniella Richardson. She's our newest student producer here at Earth eats, and she's reporting on an issue affecting the everyday lives of students at Indiana University. Here's Daniella.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON The great resignation has swept through workplaces all over the United States. As of September 2021, a record number of 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs, fed up with their pre pandemic pay and general work conditions. These vacant spots that employers are scrambling to fill have left several different sectors. Understaffed and in need of workers to meet the levels of production and service. Previously held. This issue spreads far and wide, affecting the most unthought of variables. The one we'll be hearing more about today, our campus dining halls. With special focus on Indiana University's dining. 

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV So when you get local food, what happens is you don't have to spend that much energy on fossil fuels to transport them. Here you're supporting the community. You're supporting the state and you're pushing the state forward in that sense, so.

 DANIELLA RICHARDSON This year in Indiana University, the dining halls have been called to attention.

And this attention has not been entirely positive. For the 2021 to 2022 school year, Indiana University has accepted a record breaking number of incoming freshmen. With it comes a record breaking number of challenges as a member of this current freshman class, I can recall well my first meal without you dining. It was in one of the new all you care to eat eateries. There many options intimidated me as a first time customer, so I stuck with the safe option of pizza. It wasn't the best pizza of my life, and it also wasn't even close to the worst. It tasted as it should. Like it came from a campus dining hall.

ABRAHAM HILL I think that it was about it's about as good as you could get for a cafeteria style dining. Some food courts were better than others, but all the food was just pretty average. In recent months, the dining halls have seen reports of understaffing low quality food and long wait times, sending students and their parents into a small frenzy. I sat down with a couple of Indiana University students, both freshmen and upperclassmen, to discuss their thoughts on the current dining conditions and how it compares to previous years. We also spoke with Indiana University's Executive Director of dining operations Rahul Shrivastav to ask him about his thoughts on the current state of affairs and his future plans for campus dining. I started by asking the students how they would Rea IU dining on a scale from one to 10 along with any additional thoughts that they wanted to share.

ALEXEI LIEBRUM I would rate it out of 10, Forest being a six and a half out of ten, and Mcnutt being maybe like a four.

SUN-HI QUALLS Four out of 10.

ALEXEI LIEBRUM 5.5 on a good day. The six out of 10, six and a half, I would say there's a lot of variety. They offer Mexican. They offer Asian. They have pizza burgers, they have barbecue salads for the healthier people. I'm in breakfast food all day, so I there's a. Lot a lot, a lot of options.

ABRAHAM HILL I would say Forrest was the best they have, the meals there were a lot pricier, but you kind of got what you paid for their Hispanic food, like their Hispanic food, was really good.They had a really nice burger place and on some days they actually had like steaks that I never had, but I heard they were very good.

SUN-HI QUALLS So some of the things that I really don't care for is the fact that there is no seasoning in the food. I know our campus is majority white, however. I feel like we could we could throw in some seasoning. You know we have. We already have enough stuff. For them we have some stuff for us.

ALEXEI LIEBRUM If it had flavor, yes, I do think it's good. Yeah, the options that they have. .If it had flavor, I'd yes it would be good. They use fresh ingredients, they prepare everything there so they make the food there. It's not like they're shipping frozen stuff in. But it just falls short.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON There are many eateries open across campus. However, with the understaffing the addition of Grubhub options in recent years and the closing of some locations, students have concerns about wait times in basic dining hall procedures.

SUN-HI QUALLS The wait times are pretty short. They get it out pretty fast, especially when there's a lot of orders, but then sometimes it says that that you can't order because of how many people are ordering, which is a little annoying. But other than that It's pretty good.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON You think it has room for improvement?



SUN-HI QUALLS A lot of the times it'll say something is available and then it's not actually available and I feel like they should just say its available.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Is that a source of aggravation for you?

SUN-HI QUALLS It's like you know, I'm expecting my fruit punch and I don't get a punch.

ABRAHAM HILL Well, it was always super packed like the system of getting your food and getting out of there is never never worked too well because rights at the center of campus. So it's always pretty packed and a few of the options they'd always run out of. Many of the popular options.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Have you or anyone you know used the Grubhub options this year?

ABRAHAM HILL I had extra meal points so my sophomore year during COVID. Still I was using Grubhub pretty often and I thought it worked pretty well then, but I'm not sure how the programs have been working this year.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON This year a new addition was made to the IU dining operations, which they call the all you care to eat style. It allows students to try multiple restaurants for the price of 1 meal plan swipe. This has been instituted in both the forest and Mcnutt Quad locations on campus. The all you care to eat style was implemented in response to complaints that the Ala carte system was too costly for student. IU junior Abraham Hill, recounts the time before the all you care to eat, style his struggle with their pricing and how he personally believes the buffet style would have been more helpful to his dining experience overall. 

ABRAHAM HILL Yeah, I heard about that and I was actually kind of disappointed because I had to do the meal plan which was a lot of meal points and what I was getting would have really been like beneficial to the amount I could have ate and I wouldn't have to go without a couple meals every now and then.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Now it seems that while there are still issues to be had, most students I talked with do prefer the on campus pricing IIU Dining provides, especially compared to off campus options.

How would you rate the pricing of food in terms of fairness for what you're receiving it?

SUN-HI QUALLS It's good.'cause you get drinks, food and dessert For a low price it's good.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Have you had food off campus this year?

SUN-HI QUALLS Yes, all the time.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Was it preferable in terms of quality and price?

SUN-HI QUALLS Not price, but definitely quality.

ALEXEI LIEBRUM I think like it comes down to it costing like $6 or six I-BUCKS. For lunch, so I would say for the amount of food and the amount of stuff they offer, I say it is worth $6.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON IU has also taken important steps to become more sustainable with their dining operations, along with providing students with healthy ingredients they can trust. Some students were aware of these efforts and some were not. Regardless, they all agreed that this information had an impact on their dining experience. 

ALEXEI LIEBRUM The only thing I know about it is that they chose reusable China instead of the disposable stuff to limit or to reduce waste. And I also know that they partner with like the IU farm, so they're like give like locally grown tomatoes or something, you know, just to throw in the salads to say that they did something.

SUN-HI QUALLS They source from local farmers and use reusable dining where? It's a waste. They're getting good products. And then they produce a bad product.It's like you're getting this good food these good ingredients, but then you don't put out good food.

ABRAHAM HILL I prefer to be sustainable, but I'm kind of always been more focused on just what I'm getting to eat, so it didn't really cross my mind that much. 

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Those students are generally quick to share their complaints with the dining hall. Some students also seem to understand and sympathize with the current understaffing of dining hall workers.

ALEXEI LIEBRUMI can definitely tell the other staff. A few days ago I went to Mcnutt and I went to put my food away. There was nowhere to put it. Every single thing was stacked to like the brim, and there was a little cart to the side that was also stacked, so I Can tell they're understaffed because either the dishwasher didn't show up or there was nobody to do it, so I. You know, it's hard to blame the workers because it's not really Workers fault. It's kinda IU’s fault because they don't have enough workers. And they're probably already stressed out enough as it is.

ABRAHAM HILL Uhm, yeah, I know that they're in a bad situation, so I don't think it's 100% their fault. All the problems they're having, but I think that the staffing issue still needs to be addressed to fix the program.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON After hearing from a few students about their dining experiences this fall, I wanted to talk with Rahul Shrivastav, the executive director of IU Dining. After a short break, we'll check in with him. Stay with us

KAYTE YOUNG You're tuned to Earth eats, and you've been listening to a report from producer Daniella Richardson. Featuring voices from students on the IU campus about their dining hall experiences in the fall of 2021. We'll be back in a moment.

KAYTE YOUNG This is earth eats. Back to our story on IU Dining with producer Daniella Richardson.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Rahul Shrivasta has over 2 decades of dining and catering experience. He has been working with IU dining for a little over four years. During that time, he has made a strong push towards farm to table options and encourages locally sourced, fresh, healthy options in the dining halls. Starting off, I asked him exactly what he does for IU Dining?

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV All it entails dining program across campus except for IU Athletics. All 6 dining halls and anything from Indiana Memorial Union to Wells Library to all residence hall, food and beverage operations, to all academic cafes.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Shrivastav is very passionate about making IU dining process sustainable. He explained in detail the initiatives and methods they've implemented to move dining halls toward a more sustainable future. And he shared the current progress with us as well.

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV Our vision was to make fresh food available to students at affordable prices for no one to go into food  insecurity and make sure that we are supporting the community in doing so. Let's leave last year alone the 2020, so let's leave that one year alone. But before that we were about 19% on local purchases of our food, which was about at about 3 to 4% when I'd started. So we've gone from that percentage to 19% and then, uh, real food. We were about 11 to 12%, which our goal was to 20%.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Shrivastav shared the university's new plans to address food insecurity for freshmen, and he hopes along the way to make their dining experience a little more enjoyable. The new plan aims to be much more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV So the Kelley School had worked last three years over on how to change the IU meal plan. Doctor Kelly Eskew, who runs a program of law and ethics and policy and work with the team to figure out, uh, a meal plan that is more sustainable, more environmentally sustainable, more willing to use a real food challenge criteria because when you have a retail meal plan like the one we have right now, the top selling item that I have right now are chicken tenders and smart water, right? Which doesn't seem sustainable, right?When you have a retail meal plan and say chicken tenders are my favorite, right? I know chicken tenders cost me $6 fries costing dollar right. I know that's my budget. For the day. To get lunch. I'm not going to get into any other food. I'm not going even going to venture towards a salad, not even go and look at Asian Food I'm not even gonna look at anything else. Not that I'm saying that it's a bad thing, you're sustaining yourself. You're trying to budget but then. The palate development just stays to where it is right, but when you do and all you care to eat but we have it at McNutt, and in forest now. You can get a chicken tender. You can go get a salad. You can go get Asian food. You can get all that stuff and try all of that and the portions that we have are so small that you can actually get all that stuff and enjoy all that food at the same time and not feel guilty about where I got this. And I got that and I got that and I got this. So the palette exceeds that and the student. Gets an opportunity to try more stuff. 

DANIELLA RICHARDSON The new meal plan did not come along without an extensive research period. Shrivastav offered us an inside view to the process.IU Dining underwent to craft their new plan to drive out food insecurity for incoming freshmen. We hired a consultant called Envision Strategies. Envision Strategies works with schools and colleges across the country on meal plans, so we sat with them. We had representatives from all sectors of IU to change this meal plan. So we went through. We did deep financial studies. We did deep benchmarking with about 12 schools across the country. We actually got all their meal plans and what kind of exchanges and et cetera. They offered and then we do a student survey. About 2000 students participated from RPS. And their intentions were more towards on all you care to eat than the retail meal plan. They wanted flexibility. That was one thing that they really, really wanted. They pushed forward that they want flexibility, which I'll talk about a little bit further. But that's something that they wanted, but my main focus was to bring in an unlimited kind of a meal plan where the student does not run out of food options through the semester. But with the new meal plan, it'll be unlimited to all you care to eat so you could go to all her teats as many times a day as you want, as many times as weak as you want. You can go back and forth as many times as you want so that's something I really, really wanted so that food insecurity is driven out. On somebody who holds a meal plan, so think of it as your home kitchen. You know, like you, you can go there as many times as you want.

Shrivastavav, staff, and student representation also recognized the need for flexibility within the new plan. Because of this, higher dining will be introducing exchanges. Because students wanted flexibility and we still have to operate ourselves at IMU we don't have systems like that at the IMU and at the library, so there are exchanges offered. For example, the standard will have three exchanges per week. Growth rice into a retail place, and exchange a swipe you know, and they'll have like a packaged meal. For example, with Hill Grill at IMU would have something like a chicken sandwich or cheeseburger or chicken tenders. And every week you get like 3 for one, on top of that you get four and then five exchanges per week. This exchange does if you cross near Ballantyne and you cannot come back to an early character dining hall, you can easily go and exchange without paying extra money. Three of them will be there. Every week so they appear every week so you don't have to worry about running out and you. Don't have to worry about doing all that stuff. 

DANIELLA RICHARDSONI asked Shrivastav what his primary vision for this new meal plan would be.

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV  So primary vision is food diversity. Second part of it is also trying to understand that food insecurity is taken care of right? The third part is used more fresh and local produce in the all you care to  eat location.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON With any new implementation comes an adjustment period and Shrivastava notes as well. He outlined some of IU dining significant challenges this year, including staffing, supply chain shortages and Grubhub complications.

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV Well, this year's challenger, let's talk about challenges. This is challenges with staffing and supply chain, which we are not unique to it. Every single university that we work with and we work with has been looking at that every single food service establishment has been looking at that as we look at supply chain etc. What changes will be made will be made to all we care to eat and we haven't made that we would have been really bad shape because in retail what happens you face up to a location they have to make your order in all you care to eat. We drive the menus ourselves, so like it's ready to go and there's no lines and things like that. So that actually helped those with the changes that we made in in this area and that actually helped us a lot. We're still operating about 40 to 50% understaffed. So that that is the issue that we have in the second issue of that. Is we supply chain is taking a beating Right now. It's the same issue that all other counterparts of the universe in industry are facing is they're facing labor issues that somebody cannot make plastic or somebody can now make something that needs for that Food product to get from the place that it is To me.

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV As for the Grubhub options, Shrivastav has noticed a couple of different issues with this. So Grubhub worked great in 2020. It saved our lives if GrubHub  wasn't there, we wouldn't have been able to deliver food through pandemic. Grubhub didn't work that great this year. You know, students started all ring. As soon as it opened, soon started ordering in two minutes, we would have like 300 orders. But there was no lines at the store, so we could Not take In person orders, because you already the staff. There are seven people already working on 300 orders that they have to complete. So that was one thing that Grubhub did not have a throttle section. They're still working on it, but we removed Grubhub at many places and we were able to take care of our students much better on that on that situation and it actually worked really, really well for us when we removed the Grubhub in that situation, we kept Grubhub. Some places. Yeah.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON When it comes to staffing IU Dining, Shrivastav shares that they hit unexpected bumps this year and along with finding ways to bring more staff in, they plan to soon raise student wages.

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV We were hoping that we would have enough staff. You know, staffing the great resignation of 2021 started in the middle of summer and moved along the fall. You know it happened while everything was opening, so any predictions that we had in mind were just going in every direction, so we had to pivot. We had to stay back in pivot beaded referral bonuses for us. For our students, so like our students would refer up with three people and earn 3 bonuses in that area. So we did that. We've been going out and doing job fairs all over the place. We're doing job fairs at work one and the unemployment office. 

DANIELLA RICHARDSON Shrivastav also shared that they planned to work on raising the minimum wage for students.

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV We saw the full time wage had gone up to 15. We're working on the student wages. All said and done, Shrivastava maintains the biggest change he would like to see is an increase in student advocacy. Students having their own voice. You know students coming and making sure that they're connecting with us and advocating for themselves. That's something I'm not seeing anymore. It comes from other directions. You know somewhere else students are not coming forward and saying I have this issue. Please take care of this. You know these are developing stages for the students. If they would advocate for themselves, we would appreciate that we would be able to help them out and we would understand their problem better to actually fix and become better ourselves in the future. You know, like so? That's something that I I see as a challenge that we've encountered this year. 

DANIELLA RICHARDSON He encouraged this as well, as shared the different avenues through which students can share their opinions with IU dining. Ask RPS  is one of the avenues and on a website, contact us right there is the other Ave. We also have surveys out in each area if you face an issue in a dining hall that your food is not up to the quality. Please try and speak to a manager right then and there. We'll fix it if we know right then and there, we'll fix it right then and there. It's easier for us to take care of that stuff right then and there and then we can also avoid that issue repeating itself. We can look into the quality of the product and we can actually take that product out of circulation immediately.

DANIELLA RICHARDSON He had one last closing message first.

RAHUL SHRIVASTAV Yeah, I know this is a tough year, so just you need to be patient and they really need to work things out and I I welcome people to come to all the care cheat who are having facing lines at other places because. You've got tons of food there, and a lot of variety. 

DANIELLA RICHARDSON These were the voices of Rahul Shrivastava, Abraham Hill, Alexei Librum and son equals. These interviews were conducted during the Fall of 2021. I'm Daniela Richardson and this is Earth Eats. 

KAYTE YOUNG When most people think of Maple syrup production, Vermont comes to mind. In the Midwest, Wisconsin and Michigan are the biggest producers. But as Harvest Public Media's KATIE PEIKES reports, there's a lot of untapped potential for Maple syrup in the lower Midwest.

KATIE PEIKES It's a chilly day in late February and Ben Hawkes is tapping the first tree of the season.

BEN HAWKES It's a little higher pitched every time, and you know, it's kind of, you know it's seated once you hit that.

KATIE PEIKES Hawkes is working in a residential area in Ames, IA with big Maple trees that produce lots of SAP for him This is the best time of year.

BEN HAWKES This is kind of the first sign of spring for me. You know folks are starting to see Red Wing blackbirds, Turkey vultures are flying North and saps flowing.

ACS Business front yard Sugar relies on residents allowing him to tap their trees. In exchange they get a free jar of Maple syrup and he sells the rest. After Hawks collects SAP, he boils it down to syrup that has a rich smoky flavor. He'll sell the syrup out of his car and at the brewery he works at. It's all a word of mouth, business and Hawkes says there's demand.

BEN HAWKES You know, if I make 100 gallons this year, which I hope to, I expect to be sold out by May may first, the stuff sells itself.

KATIE PEIKES While Wisconsin and Michigan are two of the top 10 Maple producers in the US, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Have traditionally had hobbyists and smaller producers like Hawks. That's partly because those states were historically dominated by oak trees. 

BEN HAWKES Evolutionarily, we had fire on the landscape. There weren't maples.

KATIE PEIKES Jesse Randall is the director of the Forestry Innovation Center at Michigan State University.

He says overtime through changes in forest management like wildfire suppression. Maple trees have moved into oaks place. For example, in northeast Iowa, Randall says Maple trees are taking over as oak dominated woodland dies out and that means the Maple syrup industry can grow. 

JESSE RANDALL It's just a matter of let's let's train those individuals how to make syrup, because historically it it has not been a big industry 

KATIE PEIKES Near the town of Bankston in northeast Iowa. Brian Wolf and his family first got into Maple syrup for fun.

BRIAN WOLF We started back in 2000 and wanted we wanted to do something with the children.

You know, in the woods so we started collecting sap and making our own Maple syrup for our own home use.

KATIE PEIKES Today the family runs big timber Maple as a part time business along with their dairy farm. By 2014, demand for their syrup was so high that they began selling in two statewide grocery store chains.

BRIAN WOLF Quite honestly, a lot of people like local and when they see something on an Iowa product, you know they're they reach for that, there's a lot of people support you, know us locally and we really appreciate that we feel as if we got a good product.

KATIE PEIKES Wolf says there's a lot of potential in Maple syrup and room for more producers. That's what Hannah Hemmelgarn is looking into in Missouri and Illinois. She's with the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry. She says there are close to 63 million Maple trees in Missouri and southern Illinois alone that are large enough to be tapped.

JESSE RANDALL There's a big opportunity here. And we're not. Taking advantage of it in a way that I think can both help people to think about the value of Naples, both ecologically and economically.

KATIE PEIKES Hemmelgarn says the goal isn't to tap all the Maple trees in the region, but to raise awareness of their value.  I'm KATIE PEIKES harvest public media.

KAYTE YOUNG Maple syrup production in Indiana is also on the rise. We have a link to the Indiana Maple Syrup Association on our website,


KAYTE YOUNG I've got a French sorrel plant in a perennial garden bed next to my front porch. I've had it for years. It comes back every spring. sorrel is a delicate leafy green with a distinctive lemony taste.I never know quite how to cook with it, but when I tried this soup recipe last year, I left everything about it. It's rich and satisfying, but still light and fresh tasting. It's a nice soup for spring or summer, and it's simple to prepare. You can probably find sorreil at one of the local farmers markets, or possibly at the grocery store. And if you have some growing in your garden, you can start. Their sorrel is a great green to grow in your garden because it is a perennial. It comes back year after year. As long as you can keep the deer off of it, you've got it three seasons out of the year. It's a very pretty plant too, so it's nice to put. In your garden beds as a landscaping plant, it's got bright green, kind of oval shaped, shiny leaves. It's it's a lot like spinach in texture, it's a very tender leaf. And then we'll want to wash it and spin it dry in a solid spinner. Once you have the sorrel leaves washed, and spun, chop them up. You'll need 2 1/2 cups.

If you don't have enough sorrel, feel free to substitute spinach or Chard leaves to make up the difference. Next, you'll want to get the rest of the vegetables and herbs prepared. The recipe calls for one small onion. One medium peeled carrot, one stalk of celery. And two small potatoes. All of the vegetables should be diced into small pieces. The soup won't be blended, so think about what you would want in a spoon size bite of soup.

 Also, the smaller pieces will cook more quickly. The last ingredient to prepare is the fresh thyme strip. The leaves from the stem and finely mince. Now you're ready to start assembling and cooking the soup. We're going to start by melting 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and a heavy pot such as a Dutch oven. And to our melted butter we will add the chopped celery, onions and carrots. We'll cook these vegetables over a medium heat. Until they begin to soften. A we'll add about 2 teaspoons of salt. A few grinds of pepper. And once the mirepoix vegetables the carrots, the onions and the celery are starting to get soft and we're going to add the diced potato, 1/3 of a cup of uncooked rice, so that can be basmati or Jasmine and four cups of vegetable broth. You could also use a chicken stock for this, and I've made my vegetable broth a little bit more rich by heating it up with some Parmesan rinds. Really adds a nice savory flavor to soups.

We'll simmer this on a low heat until the rice and potatoes are tender. That should take about 20 or 30 minutes. Once they are tender, we'll add the cream. The sorrel leaves and some fresh thyme and then once the sorrel is wilted, we'll taste and adjust the seasonings. Maybe add a little bit of salt and pepper, and that's it. 


Now that our soup has been cooking for about 20 minutes, we're going to check. Yep, those potatoes are tender and the rice is cooked. So now it's time to add the cream. It's 1 cup of Cream, 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, finely chopped and then our sorrel leaves and you're going to want about 2 1/2 cups of those and just stir that in. Heat through and adjust the seasoning, and then you're ready to serve. This does not get pureed, I mean. You could do that if you'd like. But I think it's a really nice soup with all of the textures of the diced potatoes, onions and carrots and celery and then a little bit of that rice just to kind of thicken it and give it some body the cream is adding the richness. And then that bright sorrel flavor. The sorrel is very tart, it has a lemony flavor, but in this dish it's not overwhelming because of all the other flavors that you have going on and adjust the proportions, so it's a really nice soup. It's a great way to serve sorrel and I hope you'll try it. As always, you can find the recipe at


RENEE REED The Earth Eats team includes: Albon Binder, Mark Chila, Tilbe Foster, Abraham Hill, Josephine McRobbie, Daniella Richardson, Peyton Whaley, Harvest Public Media and me RENEE REED.

KAYTE YOUNG Special thanks this week to Beverly Fields, Burnett, Rahul Shrivastav, Alexei Liebrum, Sun-Hi Qualls, and Abraham Hill.

RENEE REED Our theme music is composed by Aaron to be and performed by Aaron and Matt to be additional music on the show comes to us from the artist at Universal Production Music. Earth Eats is produced and edited by Kayte Young and our executive producer is John Bailey.


Alexei Liebrum eating a meal at table with wooden top, in a large, well lit dining hall

IU freshman Alexei Liebrum eats one of the dinner-time meals from popular McNutt restaurant, Heartland. (Daniella Richardson)

This week on the show, a look at challenges for campus dining in the midst of a labor shortage; challenges for Black farmers hoping to enter the hemp industry; why maple syrup production is on the rise in midwestern states–plus, 

"Aromas flew on steamy clouds of heat.

When canned, the waiting was the longest time.

How many weeks or months before we eat?"

We’ve got a pickle recipe, a poem about pickles and more. This episode is packed.

IU Dining Strives to Redefine Campus Dining Halls

“When you get local food, what happens is, you don’t have to spend that much energy on fossil fuels [to] transport them here,” says Rahul Shrivastav, the executive director of Indiana University Dining Operations. “You’re supporting the community, you’re supporting the state, and you’re pushing the state forward in that sense.”

Along with supporting the community, Indiana University has made the dining experience for their students a top priority for the 2021-2022 school year; in light of their acceptance for a record-breaking freshman class, their desire to rapidly improve their dining operations comes as no surprise.

This year the university introduced a new concept into their dining operations called the “all-you-care-to-eat” style. This addition to the campus dining halls affords for students to eat what they want from multiple restaurants in an unlimited capacity for the price of one meal plan swipe. This, in comparison to the original retail plan where students would have to buy each individual food item for an individual price, has proved to be rather favorable among student audiences. However, that is not to say that there have not been complaints. From reports of alleged low-quality food, the pricing itself, and the complications caused by understaffing of dining workers, students have concerns.

“Some of the things that I really don’t care for is the fact that there is no seasoning in the food…I feel like we could throw in some seasoning,” says freshman Sun-Hi Qualls. Qualls does not find themselves in this boat alone. Freshman Alexei Liebrum expresses he would enjoy “the options that they have if they had flavor,” and that although IU dining does their best to secure fresh local ingredients and have a lot of variety within their options, he believes that sometimes it “just falls short.” 

people walking around and seated inside a large, well lit dining room, with tables and a buffet counter
 Students visit the different restaurants within the McNutt eatery during dinner time.(Daniella Richardson)

Among other criticisms of the dining hall operations this year, some students simply wish that IU had thought of the “all-you-care-to-eat” style much earlier. IU Junior Abraham Hill is among those who believe this new dining style would have been beneficial to his campus experience overall. Hill recalls how during his freshman and sophomore year, many times the prices for food seemed a bit too high for his meal plan to reach. He expressed his disappointment that the newly implemented buffet-style did not come sooner, and how if it had been present during his former years, he most likely would not have had to “go without a couple of meals.” 

Along with concerns about the integration of the “all-you-care-to-eat” style, GrubHub has also created some friction between the student body and IU Dining. Students have complained of long wait times, incorrectly listed items, and more. Qualls themselves stated that “a lot of the time it [GrubHub] will say something is available and then it’s not actually available, [which is a little aggravating] because you know, I’m expecting my fruit punch.”

Criticisms aside, students also have expressed understanding of the fact that some of these issues stem from the current staffing shortage. Qualls says, “I can definitely tell they’re understaffed…It’s not really the workers' fault…they’re probably already stressed out enough as it is.” 

Shrivastav shed some more in-depth light on the current issues with staffing. He stated that “We’re [IU Dining] still operating about 40-50% understaffed. The second issue is that the supply chain is taking a beating right now. It’s the same issue that all other counterparts of our industry are facing: they are facing labor issues.” Shrivastav also shared that in order to solve this issue, IU Dining has been maintaining their hiring referral bonuses and utilizing job fairs frequently, along with working to soon raise the student minimum wage. This also brings light to the issue that not just dining halls are being affected by these events, but businesses everywhere are suffering from staff shortages. 

Shrivastav also addressed the aforementioned issues and shared that IU Dining will be implementing an all-new meal plan for the coming year. The primary goal of this new meal plan will be to eliminate freshman food insecurity and provide food made with fresh and healthy ingredients that students can trust. It will do so by now allowing students to visit the “all-you-care-to-eat” eateries however many times a day they want for just one meal plan swipe. With the current plan, students may be able to get how much food they want for one meal plan swipe, however, it must be swiped each time they enter the dining hall. The new meal plan changes this.

IU Dining worked with the Kelley School of Business and Envision Strategies, a consultancy group focused on helping the innovation of food and hospitality services, in order to conceive this new plan. They gathered data from the meal plans of other accredited universities, staff, and students in order to find out what would work best and make the IU Dining experience better overall. They found that students wanted the unlimited aspect of “all-you-care-to-eat” and flexibility most of all. Shrivastav stated that “My main focus was to bring in an unlimited kind of meal plan, where the student does not run out of food options through the semester.” 

When it comes to the challenges IU Dining has faced this year, Shrivastav maintains that their biggest challenge within the current years is the loss of student voices. He strongly encourages students to come forward with their complaints and issues for IU Dining. He stated, “[the biggest issue is] Students having their own voice. Students connecting with us and advocating for themselves. That’s something I’m not seeing anymore. It comes from other directions…These are developing stages for students. If they would advocate for themselves, we would appreciate that. We would understand the problem better, how to fix it, and become better ourselves in the future.”

This story was written and produced by Daniella Richardson

Music on this episode

The Earth Eats theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey.

Additional music on this episode from Robert John, “Surface,”  from  Free Music Archive

and from the artists at Universal Production Music.


Please note, we are experiencing technical difficulties with the story about poet Beverly Fields Burnette (below). We will fix the broken link as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

Stories On This Episode

Kayte's favorite pickled carrots

small bowl with blue pattern filled with sliced carrots, onions and jalapenos

These are great on tacos, tostados, burritos or even on top of tortilla chips, as a snack.

Mysterious and mundane collide in Beverly Fields Burnette poem about artichoke pickles

Beverly Fields Burnette portrait photoshopped onto a photo of yellow flowers agains a blue sky

Poet and storyteller Beverly Fields Burnette originally published her poem Artichoke Pickle Passion in a cross-generational anthology of contemporary African-American poetry in 1998. She joined producer Josephine McRobbie to talk about the inspiration behind the sonnet.

Maple syrup producers in the lower Midwest tap into small, local markets

Ben Hoksch drilling into a maple tree

In the Midwest, Wisconsin and Michigan are the biggest producers of maple syrup, but there is a lot of untapped potential for maple syrup in the lower Midwest.

Black farmers see new opportunities in the budding industrial hemp industry

Brendalyn King and Osei Doyle

Brendalyn King and Osei Doyl are planning to create the first Black-owned industrial hemp processing site in their home state of Missouri.

Creamy French Sorrel Soup

Soup in ceramic bowl with green and orange flecks visible in a creamy broth. linen napkin and spoon to the right on a wooden surface.

Sorrel is a delicate leafy green with a distinctive lemony taste. This soup is rich and satisfying, but still light and fresh-tasting.

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