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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

How Hot Do You Like It? Hot Peppers For Hot Weather

Spicy food on the brain today. Chef Daniel Orr makes a pepper relish. Then we visit a local chile farmer and a pop-up garden next to a downtown fire station.

pepper plant

Photo: Jim, the Photographer (Flickr)

Susan Welsand grows 1,600 varieties of chile peppers on her farm in Bloomington, Indiana.

They live in a firehouse 24/7, so they eat their meals here. If they want to make a salsa or any kind of chili, they’ve got fresh vegetables and they don’t have to go to the store to get them. They’ve got them right outside their backdoor.

That’s Roger Kerr, Chief of the City of Bloomington Fire Department. Thanks to the two raised garden beds in the station’s side yard, the firefighters have been using the freshest of produce to make salsa and chili. We speak with Kerr and the mastermind behind this pop-up garden Ferrol Johnson.

Have you ever wondered why folks who live in hot climates tend to love spicy foods? Spicy foods heat up the body, which can cool you off by bringing your body temperature closer to the temperature of the air around you. Spicy foods also induce sweating, which cools the body. This summer, the Midwest has often felt like a completely different climate zone.

As a result, Chef Daniel Orr is embracing spicy foods, specifically chile peppers. In the kitchen, he makes a pickled pepper relish. Then he visits Susan Welsand, “The Chile Woman,” on her farm to pick up some peppers to use in his restaurant.

And before that, we get an update on how the drought is affecting farmers in the Arkansas River basin from Harvest Public Media.

News Stories:

Stories On This Episode

Drought Brings Misery To Arkansas River Basin


Our story begins where the drought does, at the Arkansas’ headwaters and follows the river to its demise on sunbaked Kansas prairie.

Pickled Pepper Relish

Pickled Pepper Relish

This recipe is like Carnival in Rio -- a festival of colors, flavors and aromas.

One Hot Hoosier: The Chile Woman, Susan Welsand

the chile lady labels

Who needs tropical weather? With the help of a greenhouse, Susan Welsand grows 1,600 varieties of chiles on her farm in Bloomington, Indiana.

Bloomington Fire Fighters Double As Gardeners

firefighters watering the garden

Fire fighters are responsible for watering the newly installed garden by their building every other day. In return, they enjoy a wide array of fresh produce.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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