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.
Possible burger. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday greenlit the crucial ingredient in Silicon Valley plant-based meat company Impossible Foods’ namesake product, the Impossible Burger, CNBC reports. The ingredient is called soy leghemoglobin, and it releases a protein known as heme, which is what gives the burger its distinct taste and meat-like “bloodiness.” Previously, FDA had not confirmed that the ingredient was safe for human consumption, The New York Times reports. This news means that the agency has now granted the ingredient the coveted designation of “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS. Guess Impossible Burgers can be marketed as GRAS-finished going forward.
Water wars. In Arizona, lax water regulations have precipitated an influx of large-scale farms. For this week’s New York Times Magazine, writer Noah Gallagher Shannon chronicles their effects on the local aquifer. Neighbors’ faucets have stopped flowing, residents have abandoned their properties, but still the state government refuses to regulate industrial-scale water use.
Free food fallout. What do many savvy Silicon Valley institutions have in common? Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn are but a handful of organizations known for catering to employees’ daily nourishment needs—all for free. But when Facebook moves into its Mountain View, California office, there will be no corporate cafeteria offering free meals for its 2,000 employees, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. And that’s not by choice. In an unusual move, the city has barred companies from providing fully subsidized meals inside their offices—an effort to boost local retail.
A fruitless effort—for now. A California policy designed to incentivize property owners to transform vacant lots into urban farms is not as verdant as once anticipated, CityLab writes. Initially, supporters of the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZ) Act estimated that an approximate 8,000 lots would potentially receive a tax break for becoming food-growing spaces. In reality, only four lots have benefited under the act. From burdensome minimum commitments to too few connections being made between growers and eligible property owners, unanticipated problems are hurting California’s chance to create more green spaces.
Hands-free. On June 30, Savannah, Georgia-based waitress Emelia Holden was groped by a customer while working at a local pizzeria. She pulled the perpetrator, a man named Ryan Cherwinski, back by his shirt as he was walking away and threw him onto the ground. The altercation was documented by the restaurant’s surveillance footage, which has since gone viral. Now, in an interview with The New York Times, Holden is speaking out about the encounter and the support she has received since. “As long as you respect me, I’m going to respect you.” Inversely, that means that if you get handsy, you can expect to catch these hands.