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.
Just what the doctor crowd-funded. Tove Danovich looks at one of the horrors of modern day America: crowd-funding for restaurant workers who can’t pay for surgeries and cancer treatments. Medical bills are a heavy burden for many Americans, but the financial pain is acutely felt in restaurants, where employees survive on low wages, little paid time off, and in some cases, turn down employer-provided insurance because it’s not cost-effective. “There’s no safety net available to people in these situations, short of the kindness of friends, family, and strangers,” Danovich writes for Eater.
It’s getting hot in here. We regret to inform you that the prevailing influence of celebrity gossip magazine culture has, for the first time in People magazine’s history, manifested into an hour-long Food Network special in anticipation of its annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, reports Variety. The program, “Sexiest Chef Alive,” will introduce 10 sexy chefs before culling the flock to select the year’s singular sexiest chef. The lucky culinary artist wins a profile in the “Sexiest Man Alive” print issue, set to hit stands the next week. (At first, we thought, ‘Why can’t women be sexy?’ Then we remembered that there is already a sexiest woman competition. It’s called The Bachelor. So, instead, we conclude the following: Now, in 2018, no professional needs to be qualified as “sexy.”)
Deere in the headlights. Nineteen states have introduced so-called “right to repair” legislation, which would require companies that make cell phones, computers, and appliances to supply consumers with the tools they need to fix them (ever tried to fix your iPhone?). Farmers—and by extension the Farm Bureau—tend to support these laws. Anyone who relies on equipment from John Deere, however, is required to sign a licensing agreement swearing they won’t try to fix their own tractor, and some find the policy unfair. When equipment breaks down, farmers have to pay a $230 fee, plus $130 an hour for help from the manufacturer. It seems like a clear-cut “farmers vs. manufacturers” debate. That’s why it’s odd that the California Farm Bureau changed its tune on “right to repair,” Vice’s Motherboard reports. With little to no explanation, the farmer advocacy group accepted a watered-down compromise put forth by a manufacturing interest group that does not include a promise that manufacturers ever sell repair parts.
A kingdom for a tweet. President Trump was on another Twitter tear Thursday morning. First, he wrote that the recently updated death toll from last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico was “done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.” Five hours later, farm bill negotiations landed in his crosshairs: “Senator Debbie Stabenow and the Democrats are totally against approving the Farm Bill,” he tweeted. “They are fighting tooth and nail not to allow our Great Farmers to get what they so richly deserve. Work requirements are imperative and the Dems are a NO. Not good!” The president seems to be conflating farm subsidies with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) here. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Throwing shade. California was the first state in the country to put heat exhaustion laws on the books to protect its outdoor workers. But in an age of rising temperatures, even those laws—which, while well-intentioned, have some enforcement problems—aren’t doing enough to stave off illness, disease, and even death in the fields, reports the Huffington Post. To avoid the sweltering heat, farmworkers are moving their shifts to the dark of night, and seeing less pay due to shortened hours.