Thinly sliced: California mandates cancer warnings for coffee, food stamps fumble farm bill talks, 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.
Whipped up. Farm bill negotiations in the House continue to stall as Republicans try to push new restrictions on the SNAP (formerly food stamps) program, Politico reports. According to the High Plains Journal, the Senate is plugging along just fine, but the House debate looks like “a Three Stooges pie fight, with Republicans and Democrats hurling messy smack at each other instead of getting any work done.” And we thought Congress couldn’t get any crustier!
Put down your Corona and lime. Activists in the Mexican town of Mexicali are rallying against an incoming brewery, which they say will sap the city of its already-scarce water resources, NPR reports. The beverage conglomerate in question is Constellation Brands, the parent company of popular beers like Corona and Modelo. Once constructed, Constellation Brands estimates it will “create” 750 jobs, but activists say that modest incentive comes at too steep a price—every liter of beer produced will suck 3.5 liters of water from local wells, according to NPR. Next time you’re at a bar, be sure to ask: Do you serve privatized natural resources on tap?
Public bad. In February, Reuters reported on a Trump administration proposal that would penalize immigrants for using public services, including food stamps. Now, the Washington Post has obtained a draft of the proposal and reports that its target range appears to be even wider than originally reported. Under this proposal, parenthood would be a strike against immigrants applying for citizenship or residency—the logic being that having kids could result in greater dependency on public assistance. Kids are burdens unless they can be used as pawns in diplomacy, it seems.
Spring break. For many college students, spring break is neither restful or relaxing—thanks to food insecurity. Wisconsin Public Radio recently looked at a Harvard professor’s survey that indicates some students go hungry when dining halls shuts down. Other research suggests campus food insecurity is as high as 50 percent nationwide. What might a long-term solution look like? Earlier this year, we reportedon New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to require college campuses to maintain pantries where students can simply pick up food in times of need. This method could give students an opportunity to grab staples before facilities close. Let’s wait until no one’s hungry before cheering “spring break forever.”
Proceed with caution. Forget ranking states based on political preferences, public school systems, or cost of living. This list from Thrillist focuses on the only variable you can count on these days: food. As you might expect, California took the top slot, followed by Texas, New York, Louisiana, and Tennessee. But please don’t take Thrillist’s word as gospel. We at The New Food Economy were personally offended that Hawaii finished only seventeenth despite being home to the best poke around. And is Chicago’s deep dish really enough to put Illinois above Washington, home of apples, spectacular seafood, and pretentious coffee roasters? Agree to disagree.
Bad taste. For Splinter, writer LaToya Faulk chronicles the controversy stirred up by a Black History Month cocktail menu served at—and prematurely pulled from—an Oxford, Mississipppi bar last month. The menu began as a provocative and well-intended ode written by a black bartender and manager of the Saint Leo, a white-owned lounge serving a mostly white crowd in a neighborhood where rising costs of living continue to price out black residents. Drink names like “Blood on the Leaves” and “(I am not your) Negroni” became a flashpoint, generating inappropriate commentary and heated online debate. In her essay, Faulk retells the events of a forum she hosted in attempt to expand the discussion, ultimately using the piece to ask: How do we properly acknowledge the history of black suffering? We probably won’t have an answer anytime soon.
Nothin’ to see here. While it’s still expensive and complicated to get new genetically modified crops approved, USDA doesn’t plan to regulate gene-edited plants anytime in the near future, the agency announced in a Wednesday press release. We’ve got background on that distinction, and why it matters, here.
Coffee cancer. A judge in California ruled on Wednesday that Starbucks and other coffee sellers will have to start displaying cancer warning labels, the Associated Press reports. Here’s our columnist Pat Clinton on why you probably won’t get cancer from acrylamide.