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Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

No one likes a cloudy sky. A cloud on the horizon is seen as a harbinger of doom. We feel like clouds need to have silver linings.

But here's our thesis: Clouds are unfairly maligned.

Consider this: From almost any vantage point (literally -- any vantage point in the universe), clouds are planet Earth's defining characteristic.

They're what changes, what moves. They're what's going on on our pale blue dot.

Nicole Franzen

In the rural town of Freedom, Maine -- population 700 -- there’s the renowned restaurant The Lost Kitchen. It’s the brainchild of owner and chef Erin French and the crew of women who work with her. During normal times, the restaurant is fully booked for the season -- months in advance. The New York Times has written about it. So has Martha Stewart Living.

Courtesy: CPTV

Gary Bimonte will be laid to rest this week in a private burial service after a Mass at St. Michael’s church in New Haven. The pizza legend was the youngest grandchild of Frank Pepe, whose Wooster Street restaurant is a fixture in the city. Bimonte died suddenly of a heart attack last week.

Apple

As with all weeks, it's been a strange week.

First there were the Cinnamon Toast Crunch shrimp tails. And then an enormous container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. And now there might be another toilet paper shortage. Which would be bad for the Amazon drivers who have to poop in their trucks.

Maybe it's been an especially strange week.

Marena Lin / Project Restore Us

What we eat -- and where -- has changed for many of us over the past year. Some people are getting more takeout, while others are spending a lot more time at home, cooking both elaborate and simple meals. The New York Times reported that cookbook sales increased by 127% from 2019 to 2020.

Syd Montgomery

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington, to Gig Harbor.

In reality, the octopus is more benign but equally fascinating. Did you know the octopus has two-thirds of its brain neurons distributed throughout its eight arms? Or that the severed arm of an octopus can walk independently toward a food source and move it to where its mouth should be?

Jim Henkens

We have a complicated relationship with our food. We need food to live; yet, we've become removed from the food we eat and how it's grown and processed.  Even with the best of intentions, today's ultra-processed foods make it hard for us to know exactly what we're eating or how the methods used to mass produce our food are affecting our environment and our health. And I haven't even touched on how food has led to war, famine, poverty, and enslavement.    

Volunteer Marti Simmons
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Foodshare has been distributing food at Rentschler Field in East Hartford since the pandemic began. This site, which has served more than 227,000 households, reopened on Jan. 12, 2021, after Foodshare initially announced it would shut it down for the winter. With assistance from members of the Connecticut Air National Guard, Foodshare workers and volunteers distributed donated food on Tuesday to a line of cars estimated at 1,200. Some of those in the drive-thru line waited over an hour to collect food for friends and neighbors who couldn’t make the trip.

With the arrival of winter and the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in full swing, the restaurant industry expected to lose more than $230 billion in 2020 is clinging to techniques for sustaining outdoor dining even through the cold and vagaries of a U.S. winter.

The Battle For Butter

Dec 27, 2020
Creative Commons

We tend not to think much about that pat of butter we put on our morning toast, including how the store-bought sweet cream butter we're eating likely pales in comparison to the rich, nutty flavor of  the cultured butter not found in many stores.

Hm. H Zinn
Ken Turino

If you’ve ever been to a dietician to lose weight, or just to get healthier, you’ve probably heard the same advice and been told to eat the same kind of food. But American dietitians often leave out room to eat diverse cuisines and food groups, largely leaving out a lot ethnic food. 

Blogtrepreneur / Creative Commons

It could be months or years before the US government knows the full extent of last week's sophisticated cyberattack that targeted private tech and security companies and federal agencies like the Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration.

President Trump dismissed the significance of the attack, tweeting that "everything was under control." He refused to criticize Russia for the attack, claimed without evidence that it could be China, and contradicted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's acknowledgement of Russian involvement. Yet, the President continues to fight the election results and has considered declaring martial law to overturn the election.  

Illustration by Chion Wolf

This pandemic has shuttered so many events, including a few of my own. The Mouth-Off at the Mark Twain House was a storytelling show I hosted and produced for 8 years until 2020. But the good news is that now I get to show off some of my favorite true stories from the series here on Audacious!

The theme for this one? Eat It Up. Stories that feature food.

At Foodshare's drive-thru food bank at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, volunteer Tiina Hyvonen stacks 5-pound bags of potatoes. Most passengers driving through kept their windows up and volunteers loaded food directly into trunks.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

November and December are typically the busiest months of the year for Foodshare, which helps those struggling with food insecurity. This year, that need is only intensified by the pandemic.

Mmmm Donuts

Dec 1, 2020
Gabriel Kronisch / Creative Commons

Almost everybody has a favorite donut - even if you don't eat a lot of donuts. It's not so much about the donut as it is about how donuts bring people together - to celebrate, to mourn, to share.

Donuts have been part of cultures around the world for more than a thousand years, first as a festival special-occasion food, later as an everyday treat.  Later still, as a "weapon" in World War I. They're in movies, music, and Twin Peaks.  In the words of Homer Simpson, "Mmmm donuts.

lesjbohlen / Pixabay

COVID cases in Connecticut continue to rise, and the majority of residents now live in what the state defines as “red zones”. Governor Lamont has ordered a voluntary curfew and the state has required restaurants to begin shutting down starting at 9:30 p.m., with doors closed by 10 p.m.

But what will this mean for an industry already on a knife’s edge financially?

We hear from a restaurant owner and an industry leader.

And, with winter approaching, is there a way to enjoy restaurant dining safely? We talk to an epidemiologist about how we should consider the risks of indoor dining during a winter COVID spike.

Pratt Street in Hartford remains empty during the lunch rush on November 4, 2020.  At the end is Dish Bar & Grill, one of several Connecticut restaurants permanently closed due to COVID-19.
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Connecticut has reverted to a modified Phase 2 reopening plan after an increase in coronavirus cases. Among the changes, indoor dining at restaurants had to drop back to 50% capacity. They’re also required to close by 10 p.m., which is a change from the governor’s initial order to close at 9:30. 

Illustration by Chion Wolf, candy corn photo by Skeeze on Pixabay

This hour, visit a West Hartford history professor’s eye-opening Halloween display about Black Lives Matter and Covid-19, and hear what passersby think of it.

Beef cattle standing in a field
Carmen Baskauf / WNPR

Do you worry about how you’re everyday actions contribute to climate change? You may think about the carbon gas-burning cars are putting into the atmosphere, or coal-powered electricity in your houses.

But what about the food you eat?

This hour we talk about the role of the livestock industry on putting carbon into the atmosphere. Are our carnivorous habits contributing to the climate crisis?

Firefighters are battling multiple wildfires in northern California that are threatening entire towns, while thousands are under evacuation orders, burning through homes and some of the state's prestigious wineries.

Speaking at a news conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the fast moving Glass Fire in Napa County and the Zogg Fire in Shasta County, are top priorities. Both fires erupted Sunday and their cause is under investigation.

Industrial Farming Outweighs Willpower In Obesity Crisis, Experts Say

Sep 8, 2020
Sandy Flores of City Seed puts away a bag of $1 tokens at the close of the Wooster Farmers Market. Snap recipients can scan their EBT cards and receive two dollars in tokens for each dollar to spend at the market.
Melanie Stengel / C-HIT

Industrial-scale farming and food processing are greater factors in rising obesity numbers in Connecticut and worldwide than individual behavior, scientists say.

The San Marino Ristorante Italiano restaurant in Waterbury has brought back about half of its business, but La Bella Vista banquet hall, about 5 miles away, has struggled with indoor gathering capacity limits.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Tony D’Elia owns San Marino Ristorante Italiano and La Bella Vista in Waterbury. One’s a restaurant, one’s a banquet hall. And he's among the many restaurant owners pushing to increase the capacity of indoor and outdoor dining in the state.

Hotel du Vin & Bistro / flickr creative commons

Historian Christine Sismondo says that "America, as we know it, was born in a bar."

Taverns were where the Boston Tea Party was planned. They were where court cases were carried out, where land was bought and sold, where immigrants came to congregate.

Over the centuries since, bars have fostered so much social change. And today, they're where we go to meet people, to catch the game, to talk about our problems, to relax.

First And Last Tavern
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

First came the return of outdoor dining at Connecticut restaurants, and now the state is allowing indoor dining.

It’s part of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening from what was essentially an economic shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Oakville Restaurant Surviving Pandemic Debut

Jun 16, 2020
Olivia Hickey / Connecticut Public Radio

While many restaurants worried about keeping their doors open during the coronavirus pandemic, one Oakville restaurant was opening its doors for the first time. 

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

No one likes a cloudy sky. A cloud on the horizon is seen as a harbinger of doom. We feel like clouds need to have silver linings.

But here's our thesis: Clouds are unfairly maligned.

Consider this: From almost any vantage point (literally -- any vantage point in the universe), clouds are planet Earth's defining characteristic.

They're what changes, what moves. They're what's going on on our pale blue dot.

coronavirus empty supermarket shelves
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

More than 30,000 suddenly unemployed Connecticut residents became SNAP beneficiaries in the months since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. Now they and the more than 350,000 other SNAP recipients statewide can use their benefits online to order groceries from ShopRite, Walmart and Amazon.

Ali Warshavsky / Connecticut Public Radio

Right now, the state of Connecticut says restaurants could be allowed to resume indoor service on June 20. But some restaurant owners are pushing for inside dining as soon as this week.

Wonderval / pixabay.com

Last week marked the beginning of a phased reopening of Connecticut. Several businesses are permitted to reopen under Phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening, including restaurants that are able to open for outdoor dining. This hour, we hear how restaurants have fared through the shutdown, and what reopening looks like. 

A group of friends hang out at Hammonasset Beach State Park Friday to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Connecticut State Parks filled with visitors under sunny skies Sunday after rain showers and clouds began the long Memorial Day weekend the day before. Restaurants across Connecticut welcomed diners outdoors during the first weekend since the state eased some COVID-19 restrictions.

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