Thinly sliced: FDA announces California as source of E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce
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.
Cali, you lettuce down. On Monday night, FDA announced that the latest multistate E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce comes from California’s Central Coast. There’s no evidence that romaine grown hydroponically or in greenhouses, or in other regions—such as Arizona, Florida, Mexico, and other parts of California—is connected to the outbreak. From now on, the agency also announced, the offending variety of lettuce will also be labeled with a harvest location and a date, a measure that may help prevent something like last week’s catastrophic, total moratorium on romaine eating, which really freaked us out.
Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes. Some Iowa farmers aren’t even bothering to fill out the paperwork needed to get their share of Trump’s tariff assistance, the Des Moines Register reports. For these farmers, the time spent applying isn’t worth the payoff. According to a survey of Environmental Working Group data, it appears that about 100 farmers have received less than $25 from the bailout program, which was devised by the Trump administration to mitigate losses from China-U.S. trade war. Meanwhile, as we’ve reported, a number of other farms have collected more than the program’s $125,000 payment limit. Guess all’s not fair in love and trade war.
Broadside. When politicians talk about bringing broadband to rural America, they invariably mention farmers who need a strong, fast, reliable connection to power precision agriculture—data-driven farming heavily dependent on the cloud. It’s an incredibly popular justification: See, for example, a “Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act” that passed in the House by a margin of 378 to 4. But when the Illinois Farm Bureau recently submitted a public comment on a forthcoming USDA broadband pilot program, detailing farmers’ connectivity needs in depth, precision agriculture was conspicuously absent. Is there a disconnect between politicians’ justifications for subsidizing telecoms in rural America, and the real needs of producers on the ground? Investigate Midwest analyzes the other 282 comments.
Pence censorship. Last week, Vice-President Mike Pence dropped by an ag conference in Georgia, as part of a tour visiting sites damaged by the Hurricane Michael. The appearance was a surprise to many attendees—but even more surprising was that a group of ag reporters were barred from Pence’s press briefing by state troopers and a Secret Service agent, while the D.C. press was allowed in. Ron Smith, of Western Farm Press, documented the experience in a recent blog post, calling the incident a personal “first.” What gives, Pence?
Fish in a barrel. The New Yorker has a review of a new Manhattan restaurant with a novel, ‘gram-ready concept: Diners catch their seafood supper from a central tank slithering with live fish. The whole thing sounds perverse, from the personal injury waivers diners must sign to the sad little fishing rods and the way that employees are forced to cheerfully bang a gong each time somebody reels something in. The piece even features a cameo from an angry animal rights group. We’ll pass—this is New York, and there are other fish in the sea.