Daniel Charles

Dan Charles is NPR's food and agriculture correspondent.

Primarily responsible for covering farming and the food industry, Charles focuses on the stories of culture, business, and the science behind what arrives on your dinner plate.

This is his second time working for NPR; from 1993 to 1999, Charles was a technology correspondent at NPR. He returned in 2011.

During his time away from NPR, Charles was an independent writer and radio producer and occasionally filled in at NPR on the Science and National desks, and at Weekend Edition. Over the course of his career Charles has reported on software engineers in India, fertilizer use in China, dengue fever in Peru, alternative medicine in Germany, and efforts to turn around a troubled school in Washington, DC.

In 2009-2010, he taught journalism in Ukraine through the Fulbright program. He has been guest researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and a Knight Science Journalism fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From 1990 to 1993, Charles was a U.S. correspondent for New Scientist, a major British science magazine.

The author of two books, Charles wrote Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, The Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare (Ecco, 2005) and Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food (Perseus, 2001) about the making of genetically engineered crops.

Charles graduated magna cum laude from American University with a degree in economics and international affairs. After graduation Charles spent a year studying in Bonn, which was then part of West Germany, through the German Academic Exchange Service.

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1:14pm

Thu April 3, 2014
The Salt

Farmers Need To Get 'Climate Smart' To Prep For What's Ahead

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 6:39 pm

Farmers participate in a CGIAR climate training workshop on how to interpret seasonal rainfall forecasts in Kaffrine, Senegal.
Courtesy of J. Hansen/CGIAR Climate

The planet's top experts on global warming released their latest predictions this week for how rising temperatures will change our lives, and in particular, what they mean for the production of food.

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11:45am

Tue March 25, 2014
The Salt

Food Giants Want 'Sustainable' Beef. But What Does That Mean?

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 2:07 pm

Customers order food from a McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Ill. The company has promised to start buying "verified sustainable beef" in 2016.
Scott Olson Getty Images

McDonald's made a big green splash a few months ago by announcing that it will start buying "verified sustainable" beef in 2016.

A chorus of voices responded, "What's 'verified sustainable' beef?"

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1:44pm

Thu March 13, 2014
The Salt

Top 5 Ways Asparagus, A Rite Of Spring, Can Still Surprise

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 5:35 pm

From the botanical to the economic, spring's iconic vegetable still harbors surprises.
Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

As the snow melts, even in Minnesota, and daylight lingers into evening, people who like to eat with the seasons know what's coming: asparagus.

"Asparagus means the beginning of spring. It's spring!" says Nora Pouillon, chef and founder of Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C. Later this month, she'll revise her menu, and it will certainly include asparagus with salmon, and asparagus soup.

It's an elegant vegetable, Pouillon says, and unique: "Sweet and bitter at the same time."

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2:50am

Tue March 4, 2014
The Salt

In The New Globalized Diet, Wheat, Soy And Palm Oil Rule

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 8:21 am

The world is increasingly relying on a few dozen megacrops, like wheat and potatoes, for survival. Above, a wheat field in Arkansas.
Danny Johnston AP

These days you can fly to far corners of the world and eat pretty much the same food you can get back home. There's pizza in China and sushi in Ethiopia.

A new scientific study shows that something similar is true of the crops that farmers grow. Increasingly, there's a standard global diet, and the human race is depending more and more on a handful of major crops for much of its food.

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12:20pm

Fri February 28, 2014
The Salt

Why The 'Non-GMO' Label Is Organic's Frenemy

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 10:29 am

The increasingly successful movement to eliminate GMO crops from food is turning out to be organic's false friend.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

It's easy to think of "organic" and "non-GMO" as the best buddies of food. They sit comfortably beside each other in the same grocery stores — most prominently, in Whole Foods Market. Culturally, they also seem to occupy the same space. Both reject aspects of mainstream industrial agriculture.

In fact, the increasingly successful movement to eliminate genetically modified crops — GMOs — from food is turning out to be organic's false friend. The non-GMO label has become a cheaper alternative to organic.

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