Thinly sliced: Big food companies eat themselves, farm safety net programs benefit schools, and more

This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.

1. Another day, two different views on GMOs. In Bloomberg, Deena Shanker wonders why consumers can’t just get on board with GMOs already. Meanwhile, Reuters takes a hard look at Monsanto’s cotton push in Burkina Faso: Seventy-five percent of the country’s farmers adopted it to prevent pest damage, but the cotton itself turned out to be low-quality and led to widespread economic losses.

2. Last year, we wrote about an unlikely community-supported fishery: The community in question was in Galesburg, Illinois, and the fishery was quite some distance away—in Sitka, Alaska. Since then, the partnership has continued to thrive. Seafood News reported Sitka Salmon will build a new hub in Madison, Wisconsin.

3. Farm safety net programs have a surprising beneficiary: Public schools. The array of recipients runs the gamut from traditional land-grant state universities to comprehensive high schools. Harvest Public Media has the story.

4. Big food companies are cannibalizing themselves as the year draws to a close. This week, Hershey’s agreed to buy Amplify, the parent company of SkinnyPop, for $1.6 billion. And Campbell’s will buy Snyder’s-Lance for $4.9 billion. Both acquisitions represent the companies’ largest deals to date, CNBC reports.

5. A cheese tasting in London disappointed attendees, and prompted comparisons to the infamously scammy Fyre Festival that stranded would-be revelers in the Bahamas in April. The “Giant Cheese Board” event, which cost $40 a head, offered cold mulled wine and not enough toilet paper. “The only thing giant about this cheese board was that it was a total giant waste of time,” one tweeted. Mashable has more.

6. The U.S. produces plenty of flour. But in the last two years, poor harvests have made high-protein wheat scarce. Higher prices mean bakers are struggling to stay in business, Reuters reports.

7. After a successful test run, the McVegan burger will become a permanent menu item at 270 outlets in Sweden and Finland later this month. The vegan patty is made from soybean protein and literally has no flavor, Food Navigator reports.

8. The National Labor Relations Board has reversed the Obama-era “joint employer” ruling. Under that interpretation, some fast food corporations could be held responsible for workplace violations. Now the onus is on their franchisees and contractors. The New York Times has the story.

9. The so-called “Trump effect” is saving journalism. And so is food. According to Axios, 15 percent of new subscribers to the New York Times are coming from the Cooking section. The secret sauce? Paywalled recipes.

10. Earlier this month, Tamar Haspel wrote a column in the Washington Post, arguing that Farm Bill subsidies for commodity crops are not the reason that Twinkies cost less than carrots, a point that Michael Pollan had previously made at a farm bill forum. Today, Civil Eats published a response by John Ikerd, saying that the Twinkie-carrot point was a metaphor, and that “treating it as the beginning and end of the discussion distracts from useful public discourse.” Tamar defended her column on Twitter, pointing out that Ikerd was more concerned about her framing than her #facts. Boiled down, neither writer is actually disagreeing with the other. They’re both talking about the farm bill, from different vantage points, two different rhetorical ships passing in the night.

The Counter Stories by our editors.