Maggie Starbard/NPR
Dan Charles
Maggie Starbard/NPR

Dan Charles

Correspondent, Food and Agriculture

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.

[+] read more[-] less

Guest workers harvest much of North Carolina's sweet potato crop, including at the fields of Burch Farms, in Faison, N.C. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Dan Charles/NPR

Fearful Farmers Rush To Find 'Guest Workers'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/521112694/521142312" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Green shoots of cereal rye, a popular cover crop, emerge in a field where corn was recently harvested in Iowa. The grass will go dormant in winter, then resume growing in the spring. Less than three percent of corn fields in the state have cover crops. Courtesy of Practical Farmers of Iowa hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Practical Farmers of Iowa

Last May, members of the Avaaz civic organization dressed as crop-sprayers in Brussels to protest the European Commission's plans to re-license glyphosate, the popular weed-killer sold by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup. John Thys/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Grass strips alongside streams, like this one in the Lac qui Parle River watershed of Minnesota, can help to reduce fertilizer runoff from fields. MN Pollution Control Agency/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption
MN Pollution Control Agency/Flickr

Farmers Fight Environmental Regulations

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/518841084/518956989" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Cacao pods ready for harvest at the Loiza Dark Chocolate farm. Courtesy of Loiza Dark Chocolate hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Loiza Dark Chocolate

Reviving Puerto Rico's Cocoa Farms, Centuries After Hurricanes Destroyed Them

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/516913761/517988208" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Lettuce crops are irrigated in Yuma, Ariz. In winter, Yuma typically supplies many of those bags of baby spinach and mixed greens Americans consume. It's But unusually damp conditions have forced growers to end the season earlier than usual this year. Matt Meadows/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Matt Meadows/Getty Images

Driscoll's, the largest berry producer in the world, now grows about the same quantity of raspberries and strawberries in Mexico as it does in California. Many American producers have recently expanded their production to Mexico. Mike Mozart/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption
Mike Mozart/Flickr

Why Ditching NAFTA Could Hurt America's Farmers More Than Mexico's

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515380213/515638250" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

"Sell by" and "expiration" labels on food products may contribute to food waste by misleading consumers to throwing away perfectly good food. Now, two food industry associations are encouraging food companies to do away with these labels. Ryan Eskalis/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Ryan Eskalis/NPR

Cattle grazing in southwestern Colombia. This combination of nutritious grasses and trees, known as silvopastoralism, can increase farm production and aid the environment. Courtesy of Neil Palmer/CIAT hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Neil Palmer/CIAT

Mike McCloskey, his cousin Manuel Perez (left), and one of their co-workers on a beach at the edge of their new farm in Puerto Rico. McCloskey and Perez played on this beach as children. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Dan Charles/NPR

Chasing A Dream Built On Dairy, This Master Of Milk Came Home

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/513091341/513388317" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Farmers and chefs looking for their perfect match at Bluejacket, a restaurant and brewery in Washington, D.C. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Dan Charles/NPR

'Speed Dating' For Farmers And Chefs: ISO A Perfect Local-Food Match

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/510576054/511355813" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue talks with reporters after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in New York in November 2016. He's Trump's choice for agriculture secretary. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Evan Vucci/AP

Helen Dahlke, a scientist from the University of California, Davis, stands in an almond orchard outside Modesto that's being deliberately flooded. This experiment is examining how flooding farmland in the winter can help replenish the state's depleted aquifers. Joe Proudman/Joe Proudman / Courtesy of UC Davis hide caption

toggle caption
Joe Proudman/Joe Proudman / Courtesy of UC Davis

As Rains Soak California, Farmers Test How To Store Water Underground

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/509179190/509542872" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript