Thinly sliced: Berkeley lights the path for switch from gas to electric stovetops

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.

Bean burn. How’s this for a metaphor? Right now, there’s a huge, likely million-dollar pile of soybeans outside Phelps City, Missouri, that’s in flames. It’s been burning continuously since a heatwave combusted the grains two weeks ago. All of the beans are pretty much inaccessible, because the surrounding roads are underwater, due to flooding that’s plagued the Midwest since March. Gavilon, the company that owns the grain elevator, won’t say exactly how many bushels are burning, but a local farmer said it could be several hundred thousand. The Progressive Farmer reports the pile is just going to keep burning.

Gas, guzzled. A hundred years ago, when kitchens ran on wood and coal, some chefs didn’t believe that a gas stove would be an improvement. Apparently, food didn’t grill as well. Now, imagine one day telling your grandchildren that electric stoves just don’t have the emotion or soul of an open flame. They’ll try to imagine what it was like before Berkeley, California, prohibited natural gas hookups in new buildings, inspiring other cities to follow suit. Mother Jones has a look at a new law that could force cooks to use induction stovetops—one that could ultimately be adopted by the rest of the state, with New York up next.

Lunch, shame. These days, it feels like we read a new story about crushing lunch debt every other week. Does the resulting outrage ever resolve the root cause of unpaid lunch dues? Mostly, they serve to draw attention to a nationwide issue, but now it appears some lawmakers are taking action: Two bills in the House would limit how schools can shame students who don’t have lunch money, writer Bettina Elias Siegel outlines in her blog The Lunch Tray. Neither of them go so far as to guarantee universal school meals—the end goal of many anti-hunger advocates—but they would at least establish guidelines on how to deal with lunch debt.

In case of emergency. When a man flashed a BB gun during Washington, D.C.’s annual Pride parade last month, attendees panicked. But at a nearby restaurant, the staff remained calm: The restaurant manager ushered everyone into the back, then pulled people indoors from the street into safety. It wound up being a false alarm, but under different circumstances. the quick response may have saved lives. A growing cadre of D.C. restaurants are training their staff how to react in the event of an active shooter, the Washington City Paper reports. Local authorities say trainings have increased from one per month in 2013 to about 30 each month this year.

There’s a snake in my green beans. Rather, there’s a snake cut up into the approximate size of several green beans, according to a study written up in The Washington Post this week. The researchers analyzed 40 media reports where consumers found frogs, snakes, lizards, and birds in bagged lettuce. Not all were dead: eight frogs, a toad, and a lizard somehow survived the journey from the field, into the bag, onto the truck, and out to the grocery store shelf.

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