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.
Wednesday night, get your head right. It’s the ice cream truck for adults. Late nights in New York City, savvy salesmen ride the subway, carrying suitcases filled with ice and sweet, boozy drinks called nutcrackers, slinging the candy-colored concoctions for $10 a pop. Where did these “saccharine slushies” come from? And what does a public-access TV host have to do with it? Grub Street has the only-in-New-York story, which begins 25 years ago at a Chinese-Latino restaurant on the Upper West Side, and takes a downtown train to Brooklyn.
But why? Arby’s, the carnivorous fast food chain which has loudly bleated its resistance to adopting plant-based meat alternatives like Beyond Meat, is getting quite cheeky. The brand invited Fast Company to check out its newly created “carrot,” which is actually a big hunk of maple-flavored turkey breast. They are sassily calling it a “marrot,” a word which looks an awful lot like “maggot,” and also we are so tired.
“Slimy” sandwiches. We already knew that ICE detainees are fed frozen sandwiches and spoiled meat and milk. And now, it seems, treatment isn’t much better at other government border camps. Bloomberg reports that families held in five detention centers operated by Customs and Border Protection, ICE’s sister agency, are eating ramen noodles, “slimy” sandwiches, and cold burritos and potato chips, while they’re held in detention. Meanwhile, children are complaining of hunger to visiting attorneys. A public health professor says eating this poorly so early in life can have lasting damage.
Plant-based strikes back. On Monday, Bloomberg reports, the industry group Plant-Based Foods Association joined a meat alternative company in suing Mississippi’s governor and commissioner of agriculture in federal court. According to the suit, the state’s law which bans use of the word “meat” on vegan products is overly broad: A ban on widely recognized terms like “veggie sausage” and “meatless meatballs,” the plaintiffs claim, violates their First Amendment rights. Mississippi, which passed its law in March, is hot on the heels of Missouri, which became the first state to ban use of the word “meat” on products that don’t include flesh from traditionally raised livestock. Missouri’s ban faces a challenge, too—this time, from veggie dog maker Tofurky—though settlement details are still being worked out.
Fair for whom? Most shoppers are now familiar with Fair Trade certifications on product labels, giving assurances that the maker of a product was given a fair rate. But a new report out of Cornell shows that, while the program may be helping farm and plantation owners, their hired labor? Not so much. “It’s sad to see that there is no effect at the farmworker level, because those are the poorest members of the supply chain and those with almost no power,” the lead researcher tells Dan Charles at NPR.