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Raise A Glass To Perry, Craft Cider's Pear Cousin

Jun 1, 2016

It was a cool morning in the spring of 2004 when Charles McGonegal, owner of AEppeltreow Winery in Burlington, Wis., bit into his first "perry" pear. Crunching into the tough, tannin-suffused fruit, he was smacked with such astringency that he instantly spit it out, letting the juice dribble down his chin. "Later that day, my lips were peeling and my throat was sore," he recalls. "There's a reason why medieval folks thought perry pears were poisonous — they're full of acids and tannins. They are not for eating.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Lorenzo Mendoza greets and kisses worker at his shuttered brewery in Caracas, Venezuela. He's trying to boost morale.

Mendoza is the chief executive of Venezuelan food giant Empresas Polar, which was founded in 1941 and is now the largest private company in this socialist country.

But Polar has come upon tough times. Many of its processing plants are running at half-speed, and thousands of employees have been furloughed since April, when all four of the company's breweries were shut down by a barley shortage.

On the corner of the busiest intersection in Omaha, Neb., there's a square cement building, wrapped on two sides with a flashing LED billboard promoting the high-tech equipment and classes inside.

"I thought it was a 3-D printer sales place," says Frank Fu, a high school student.

Earlier this year, Fu stumbled upon Do Space, a technology library providing free access to powerful PCs loaded with software used by businesses and artists. There are 3-D printers and laser cutters.

Copyright 2016 KCUR-FM. To see more, visit KCUR-FM.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In 2007, Rick Kinder was working for a contractor, building a house in southern Colorado. The workers had just finished putting in all the doors, windows and sealing the house. Kinder and a colleague were working in the crawlspace, hanging insulation.

"And we just heard this big roar and then a big boom, and it threw us against the walls, and it just blew the whole top of the roof off," Kinder says.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 WDET-FM. To see more, visit WDET-FM.

­­­­­­American farms should be in full swing right now. But some farmers are running behind, waiting on work visas for planters and pickers from out of the country. The H-2A visa program is delayed for the third year in a row.

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke: A professor and a doctor walk onto a farm.

Kathleen Terrence, a pediatrician, kneels in an onion field outside Lisbon, N.Y., with a bunch of kids. As they prepare to plant some 30,000 onions, they're all taking tips from Mark Sturges — but he's no farmer, either. He's a literary critic.

A handful of companies are offering parental benefits that go way beyond just paid leave, to include things like surrogacy reimbursement, egg freezing or breast milk shipping for traveling mothers.

As competition for talent heats up, companies see it as a relatively cheap way to recruit, retain and motivate their employee base.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

As if an $81-million-dollar bank heist wasn't spectacular enough, it now appears that the crime may mark the first time one country has used malicious code to steal money from another country.

Verizon and two labor unions representing some 40,000 workers have reached a tentative agreement to end a strike that has lasted more than six weeks.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced the deal today in a statement, saying, "The parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon's workers, unions, and management."

News that a subsidiary of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield will stop selling bronze-level health plans on the Virginia marketplace next year prompted speculation that it could signal a movement by insurers to drop that coverage level altogether.

The reality may be more complicated and interesting, some analysts said, based on a look at plan data.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It has been five years since NASA retired the space shuttle, ending a federal program that employed some 10,000 people around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The loss of those jobs was a blow to Florida's Space Coast, an area closely identified with NASA and the nation's space program. But the region's economy is bouncing back and attracting companies that are in a new space race.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Food and Drug Administration seems intent on bringing sugar out of the shadows.

Not only will food companies have to reveal, right on the package, how much sugar they've added to food; they also will have to call it by its real name.

After several boom years while the rest of the economy struggled, farming is entering its third year on the bust side of the cycle. Major crop prices are low, while expenses like seed, fertilizer and land remain high. And that means farmers have to get creative to succeed.

Modern crop farms in the Corn Belt are sophisticated businesses. So put aside your notions of bucolic red barns surrounded by a few cows. And pull out your best business school vocabulary, because crops are commodities.

A slaughterhouse is a safer place to work than it used to be, according to a new government report. But data gathered by federal regulators doesn't likely capture all the risks faced by meat and poultry workers.

Shareholders of Exxon Mobil and Chevron have voted to reject a series of resolutions aimed at encouraging the companies to take stronger actions to battle climate change.

But Exxon Mobil shareholders voted in favor of a rule that could make it easier for minority shareholders to nominate outsiders to the company's board, a potential victory for environmentalists.

Activist shareholders at both companies had placed an unusual number of resolutions on the ballot related to climate change.

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